No money, formal education, or family support: how this man built a data centre firm with a presence abroad
Lebanese-American writer and poet Kahlil Gibran has said, “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls, the most massive characters are seared with scars.”
An epitome of this saying is Pallav Agarwal, a 35-year-old entrepreneur who has fought adversities and managed to build a data centre company company that not only has clients in India but also in the US, the UK, and more.
“I am the first in my family to start a business and frankly speaking, this wasn’t even a planned step but a means of survival for me and my family. When I go 10 years down the memory lane, I feel content. But, there’s a lot more to do,” Pallav tells SMBStory.
Founded in 2013 in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, HTS Solutions was started as a website development company and gradually forayed into software development. Today, Pallav claims that the company is one of the few in India to have its own data centre at this scale of business.
When asked how he made it possible in a tech industry with no money and no formal education, he says: "Through sheer confidence in my capabilities.”
Light that follows darkness
Hailing from a humble family background, Pallav grew up in Kanpur. After completing his schooling, he even qualified the AIEEE with 5,800 rank but with no money, he could not pursue further education.
“That time the registration form cost around Rs 2,000 but I had no money in hand and my family could not afford it. Tab samajh aya ki bina paise kamaye kuch nahi hoga (then I understood that without earnings, I cannot do anything). I dropped the thought of pursuing education further and started a job at a call centre where they offered me Rs 5,000,” Pallav recalls.
After working for a short while in Kanpur, Pallav moved to Noida in his quest to get a high paying job in a good company. He soon got an offer from HCL Technologies.
HCL appointed Pallav for their calling process in tech and he says he was happy working for a reputed company. However, after three years, he wanted to explore more and kept applying for internal job postings. Despite cracking all rounds, he would get rejected in the final round.
“This happened for quite a while after which I realised that to grow in a company, you need to have your own references, which I didn’t have. Meanwhiile, I had started taking freelance web designing projects. I would do my research on the internet, develop small projects for small businesses, and deliver,” Pallav tells SMBStory.
One step led to another and Pallav started working on building a side business.
In 2013, he quit his job and started HTS Solutions as sole proprietorship company, relying on the money he saved while working and his skills.
Building a data centre
The journey hasn’t been easy, Pallav says . “I tried hiring candidates but none would show interest. When I spoke about this to my CA, he guided me on turning the company to a ‘Pvt Ltd’ entity as that generates more trust among employees. This called for more investing money which I somehow arranged and saw positive results.”
By 2015, the business had shown positive growth signs after which Pallav forayed into developing CRM (customer resource management), ERP (enterprise resource planning), and payroll software.
In 2017, HTS Solutions also expanded to leasing and renting hosting services.
“In the tech ecosystem for the business world, hosting space is like a basic requirement for going digital. We saw that many hosting providers companies were renting hosting spaces for their clients from other large players like Google or AWS and were not directly answerable during any real-time errors or client queries, ” he says.
“We tried to tap this opportunity and created our own hosting space where we serve our clients directly, solving their problems real time.”
Two years later in 2019, HTS Solutions embarked on creating its own data centre, which Pallav claims as one of the first completely homegrown ones.
Today, HTS Solutions caters to multiple clients, from micro businesses to large enterprises across the globe, including the US, the UK, Turkey, and many more.
Pallav did not disclose the turnover but claims to be making multimillion revenue and saw 100 percent growth this year.
Challenges and the way ahead
Pallav says creating visibility is the foremost challenge.
“The lack of funds and marketing means we are unable to grab eyeballs, despite offering extensive services at much more affordable rates than our peers.”
“The market is now crowded especially after COVID-19,” says Pallav, adding that the pandemic gave a big boost to Indian tech companies. However, customers in the country are more focused on discounts rather than services, leading to a rise in operation costs.
In the future, Pallav is looking forward to partnerships and investments to take HTS Solutions to the world. "HTS Solutions is a completely Made in India company, which we want to take to a global level."