The triumphant trio
Chennai-based Mukesh Infoserve has successfully transitioned from a hardware reseller to an application solutions provider. The trio of B Mukundh, Vardharajan VS and Senthil Kumar talk about their journey so far, and the future plans
B Mukundh, Vardharajan VS, Senthil Kumar, Directors, Mukesh Infoserve, talk about their transition from a hardware reseller to an application solutions provider
Chennai-based Mukesh Infoserve started in 1997 as a HP reseller. Today, with a wide portfolio of products and services, it is implementing niche solutions for SMB and mid-market customers.
It was in 1997 that three friends—B Mukundh, Director, Vardharajan VS, CTO and Senthil Kumar, CFO, started their business from a small house in Adyar, Tamil Nadu, with a seed capital of ` 60,000 borrowed from their parents. The new entity was named Mukesh Infoserve.
From 1997 till 2010 Mukesh was known as a hardware company and was focused only on the topline. “Our first big project was to supply 1,000 laptops for an organization executing a project for the Tamil Nadu government. We also signed an AMC contract,” recalls Mukundh.
Over the next 2-3 years the company sold HP PCs to educational institutions and corporate customers in deals worth ` 50 lakh to ` 1 crore.
Change of fortunes
The turn-around came in 2005 when Mukesh signed up with VMware for server virtualization. Says Mukundh, “We signed an order for a global procurement, engineering and construction company to virtualize all their 80 servers at the backend. Vardharajan front-ended the ` 3.5 crore project in 2006.”
Speaking about the slowdown which plagued the economy in FY2008-09, Kumar says, “We faced a dip, but also realized that we were catering to only the upper-end of the mid-market segment. We were largely working with auto manufacturing companies in and around Chennai. Although their project sizes were large, their buying decisions were often delayed. We had to expand our horizons, and devised an SMB strategy.”
Mukesh then approached prospects in many verticals in the SMB segment. The company went on to sign more than 250 SMB customers who contributed more than 30 percent to its overall revenue in the next 3-4 years. It also saw some large wins. As part of upgradation for a large multinational financial services company, the SI deployed HP servers as part of a multi-million dollar deal.
In 2011, Mukesh implemented a complex networking
In FY2008-09, Mukesh decided to focus on SMBs and designed a sales and solutions strategy, which in the past four years has helped them sign up 250 SMB customers
project worth ` 2 crore for a large hospitality conglomerate. The project included designing active and passive networking for more than 2,000 nodes, and supporting nine different functionalities including applications such as voice, data and video.
The SAP factor
Mukesh implemented SAP B1 ERP in FY2008-09 to improve its processes and connect all its internal stakeholders. Says Vardharajan, “Not only did the ERP lend transparency, it also gave us clarity into the sales cycle and funnel management.”
In fact, so impressed were its customers with the results that they asked the SI to implement a similar solution for them. “Since we were into HP reselling, we passed on the leads to local SAP partners. However, the demand for SAP solutions grew, hence a year later in 2010 we formally partnered with SAP,” Vardharajan adds.
“Senthil implemented the SAP ERP in-house and was instrumental in setting up our SAP business division,” Mukundh informs.
Gradually, Mukesh expanded its SAP team and invested in resources and training. “From nowhere in FY2010-11 the practice increased to 60-70 people. Over the last three years we have implemented SAP B1 for close to 70 SMB customers who have revenue ranging from ` 10 crore to ` 500 crore in deals ranging from ` 5 lakh to ` 50 lakh,” Kumar reveals.
Their efforts, coupled with customer wins, enabled Mukesh to win the Best SAP Business One Partner Of The Year Award for the south region for three consecutive years—2010, 2011 and 2012.
Mukesh grew 12.5 percent from ` 48 crore in FY2011-12 to
` 54 crore in FY2012-13.
“While we bagged large deals in networking, storage and servers, we also added document management which contributed 2 percent of our turnover,” Mukundh details.
Says Vardharajan, “DM blends well with our business applications portfolio. We signed on five customers for DM last year, and expect it to contribute 4 percent of our overall turnover this fiscal.”
Mukesh moved to hi-end products in networking, storage and servers, and invested in resources, certifications and POCs. “We deployed many projects in the range of ` 60 lakh to ` 2 crore and above. Our new strategies improved our topline and bottomline, and also the size of our funnel,” Kumar says.
The SI designed, architected and deployed a complex networking solution for a large hotel for ` 2 crore. It also connected hundreds of users of a large healthcare institute across 100 locations for a project worth ` 1 crore. “The deployment was part of new infrastructure that the institute created for the ERP deployment project, and entailed connecting thin clients with the SAP ERP, servers and storage,” Vardharajan explains.
Mukundh wanted to apply a formula which clearly defined the way the organization reshuffled its GTM strategy. Therefore, in a bid to promote cross-platform sales, the SI started a special sales and marketing arm, NESS, which focuses on opportunities around networking, enterprises, software and services. Over the years NESS has helped Mukesh to address customer painpoints with specific solutions which not only increased its services revenue but also resulted in customer stickiness.
Adds Kumar, “We ensured that the cross-pollination did not impact our sales teams internally, and therefore credited the sales executive who locked the opportunity and incentivized him with 25 percent of the deal value.”
Despite slow market conditions, Mukesh Infoserve is confident of closing FY2013-14 with a flat turnover with
The core of Mukesh’s SMB strategy has been around SAP B1. It has built deep competencies and deployed the ERP among 70 customers in the last four years
streamlined marketing and a crossfunctional sales team. “We want our software and services revenue to contribute at least ` 20 crore. We will gradually move to a stage where the contribution from services and product selling is at a 50:50 ratio,” Kumar says.
The company is now eying opportunities to sell bundled solutions to existing customers, and has signed multi-year service contracts with prestigious clients. Discloses Kumar, “Most of these projects average ` 1 crore, with SAP contributing the lion’s share of ` 30 lakh to ` 40 lakh. The rest is for servers, storage and VMware.”
The largest contract this year, worth ` 2.6 crore, came from a global logistics company which wanted to connect its sites in India using Red Hat, VMware and Microsoft.
The SI is aggressive with customized products. In 2013, it developed customized ERPs— Aurum for jewelry and MI POS for retail—with SAP as the backend.
One of the largest customers for MI POS is a chain of wine shops in Bengaluru. “We integrated 20 of their outlets with SAP ERP and implemented MI POS for the billing front-end,” informs Mukundh.
The SI is implementing similar solutions for healthcare sector. For instance, it has integrated all the applications of a major healthcare customer on HIMS with SAP at the backend. Says Kumar, “These are small deals, but provide us access to CIOs and CFOs in the vertical.” The company is running POCs with some large retailers in south, and with jewelers in south, west and north India.
Says Kumar, “We have productized our ERP, and are actively looking for partners across India who can sell the ERP to their local retailers and jewelers.”
Also on the agenda is mobile enablement. Reveals Vardharajan, “We have developed mobile apps for sales force automation. Based on the concept of business intelligence, the application—which will be tied to the SAP server at the backend—will provide sales and marketing executives with real-time data from the CRM for SPCs and other details. This is a greenfield development, but we are really excited.”
On a personal note
The three friends are fond of north and south Indian and Italian vegetarian food. They also love exploring new tourist destinations. On the book front, while Vardharajan reads stuff on technology, Kumar reads up on finance. Mukundh is currently reading Many Lives And Many Masters by Dr Brian Weiss.
L-R: Senthil Kumar, B Mukundh, Vardharajan VS