This former security guard and newspaper delivery boy built a Rs 140 Cr cloud business in just 4 years
Bengaluru-based Christopher Richard worked a number of odd jobs to make ends meet at home. After quitting education after his Class XII, he chanced upon a three-month computers course and entered the world of IT.
In the 1980s, a young school boy delivered newspapers early in the morning to several Bengaluru households. He earned Rs 120 a month.
The newspaper boy, Christopher Richard, lost his father when he was a child. His mother, a primary school teacher, made Rs 1,500 per month. The boy supplemented her income with earnings from his delivery job.
For the family, money was always a problem. And for Christopher, it was a teenage life full of adversities and hardships.
By the time he was in Class X, he was working two jobs besides going to school. He’d distribute newspapers in the morning, and work at an ice cream parlour after school.
“Working at these two jobs, I got a lot of exposure and hands-on experience talking to different people,” Christopher tells SMBStory.
After Class X, Christopher stopped doing paper delivery, and sold milk instead.
He also worked as a security guard for a building in Diamond District on Old Airport Road in Bengaluru.
“I worked a lot of these odd jobs until Class XII. After that, I dropped out of education. I felt lost and didn’t know what to do,” he says.
Christopher then chanced upon a three-month course on computers at a local skills training academy.
“There were hardly any computers around during those days. But I took a chance and enrolled myself in this course. I started learning about web development, Photoshop, Flash, etc,” he recalls.
The world of IT
For the teenager, taking a chance on the computers course proved to be his lucky break.
After completing it, he was recruited by Zed Career Academy, which was trying to set up computer institutes around the country.
“I worked there for two years and learned a lot about technology. I learned C, C++, and other programming languages. Books were my favourite friend, and I read a lot during this time,” he says.
Christopher found IT and technology to be his calling. He went into contract employment at various locations, including a stint in business intelligence for Domino’s Pizza in Singapore.
Business intelligence and analytics became his forte, and at that point, Christopher felt he worked best alone. He started freelancing and put his skills to use as an IT consultant.
“In those days, a lot of companies needed someone like me. I was sought after by IBM, Accenture, Wipro, Infosys, etc,” he says.
From earning Rs 3,000 a day as a consultant, Christopher moved up the ladder up to the point where he earned a maximum of Rs 75,000 per day consulting for large tech companies.
He did this for almost 12 years, and in that time, built a healthy business relationship with a client - Microsoft.
Despite delivering for Microsoft, the company asked him to build a team, saying he could do more if he had one.
“I went ahead with the idea and registered CR BI Consultancy in 2009. I put in Rs 10 lakh of my own money. I put together a team and tried to scale it,” he explains.
Road to expansion
Christopher had been a solo warrior for 18 years. All his jobs, right from newspaper delivery to business intelligence consulting, involved him working alone. He was not used to the dynamics of working with a team.
“Working with people and getting them to see my vision was my biggest learning curve. It was completely new to me and I had to learn how to motivate people. It took me two years to get it right,” he says.
Meanwhile, Christopher saw he had room to spare in his office, so he started a 10-seater BPO unit for Airtel.
For two months, the BPO worked for Airtel for free, and then signed a contract with it. “The BPO quickly grew to around 250 seaters and acquired multiple customers,” Christopher says.
One day, a customer referred him to G7, a group of companies involved in finance, insurance, electronics, healthcare, etc.
Christopher saw one of the companies under the group, named G7 Tech Solutions, needed a consultant to help it acquire more customers.
“I worked as a consultant for G7 Tech Solutions, but felt I could do more. Long story short, I bought out the company, and merged it with my company, CR BI,” he says.
The merger gave birth to G7 CR Technologies, and Christopher started its cloud division in 2016.
“I had seen Microsoft wanted someone to not only sell cloud products but provide support as well. They wanted someone to help manage customers, handle invoices, and basically handle the entire life cycle of customers. This was why I started a cloud division,” he explains.
G7 CR became Microsoft’s number one Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP), and saw most of its growth coming from its cloud services.
As a Microsoft partner, Christopher started working with cloud customers across manufacturing and service verticals.
“Eighty percent of my business came from enterprises in Tier I cities. The rest came from Tier II and Tier III cities,” he says.
Focus areas and future plans
The entrepreneur now looks to increase his focus on Tier II cities. He aims to set up 20 G7 CR centres in Tier II cities and expand the company’s reach across India. The company has 850 employees at the moment, of which 450 are full-time employees and the rest are under contract for the BPO division.
“We want to stay true to our vision of helping customers by setting up this large tech team. By doing this, we had grown and set ourselves apart. Our competition was more of an internal thing where we asked ourselves how we could continue disrupting and creating more value for customers,” he adds.
Last year, G7 CR made Rs 56 crore revenue, Christopher says, adding, “We are on track to do almost Rs 140 crore this year.”
His remarkable journey saw him cross Rs 100 crore within three years of starting the cloud computing business.
G7 CR also won the Microsoft Partner of the Year Award for 2019. Its other clients include Alibaba, Amazon, DigiCert, SoftLayer, and more. It helps them drive digital transformation among various organisations through new technologies and proven methodologies for optimising costs and creating value-added growth.
The big names aside, G7 CR’s major focus lies in helping small and medium businesses (SMBs) adopt cloud solutions.
‘This is emotional for me because my company is also an SMB. Considering the hardships I faced in my early life and the struggles of building a company, I understand the challenges of running an SMB. I also strongly believe that since India has the highest number of SMBs, they need all the help they can get in adopting the latest technologies,” he says.
(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)
Starting with Rs 10k, this entrepreneur survived three recessions and built a Rs 600 Cr company
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