Never Give-Up: The Life Mantra Of Balkr­ishna (Raju) Kon­dalkar

DQ Channels - - Success Story - JAGRATI RAKHEJA ja­gratir@cy­ber­me­dia.co.in

The life story of em­i­nent peo­ple has al­ways been in­spir­ing. They give other peo­ple in­spi­ra­tion and en­cour­age­ment to live a life of pur­pose. So, let’s step for­ward, learn about one such life of Balkr­ishna (Raju) Kon­dalkar and get mo­ti­vated. EARLY DAYS Balkr­ishna was born on 24th May 1965 in the Ma­ha­rash­trian state of Pune. He was brought up in a mid­dle-class fam­ily. Where his father was a shop floor worker in a man­u­fac­tur­ing firm and mother was a house­wife.

Balkr­ishna was good in sports but was an av­er­age stu­dent. Thus, he was the cap­tain of a foot­ball team in school and col­lege.

Dur­ing his younger days, while ob­serv­ing some neigh­bours who were en­gi­neers lead­ing a much bet­ter life, Kon­dalkar de­cided the goal of his life. He aimed to be­come an en­gi­neer.

Like above men­tioned, he was not good in aca­demics due to which he couldn’t get ad­mis­sion in any gov­ern­ment en­gi­neer­ing col­lege. On the other hand, the fees for pri­vate en­gi­neer­ing col­lege was Rs. 8000/- per year. His father couldn’t af­ford this amount.

To this, Kon­dalkar made a deal with his father, he said that he will do some part-time job and con­trib­ute to the amount of his col­lege fees. He stated, ‘See­ing my de­ter­mi­na­tion, my father agreed and I started study­ing in a pri­vate en­gi­neer­ing col­lege and as promised to my father, in the first year of en­gi­neer­ing it­self, I started laun­dry busi­ness at home.’

Balkr­ishna learnt his first sales les­son while work­ing for his laun­dry start-up. As he couldn’t get any work for ini­tial 3 months. He used to visit var­i­ous bun­ga­lows and apart­ments in his area in the search for work.

Amidst all the strug­gle, he never gave up and even­tu­ally, his cus­tomers started grow­ing. Raju stated, ‘I used to bring clothes on my cy­cle, iron them and give them back the next day. Very soon my busi­ness started cov­er­ing the elec­tric­ity bill, gro­ceries and small ex­penses of our home.’

He also shared an in­ci­dent, which gave him the in­spi­ra­tion to be­come a suc­cess­ful en­tre­pre­neur. Kon­dalkar stated, ‘In the last year of en­gi­neer­ing, I came across a book­let con­tain­ing the his­tory of the Kir­loskar fam­ily, and how Lax­man­rao Kir­loskar started his busi­ness. This be­came an in­spi­ra­tion to me and I de­cided that I will be that en­tre­pre­neur for my fam­ily.’

HOW DID YOU BE­GIN YOUR CA­REER?

Raju had a clear aim that af­ter com­plet­ing his en­gi­neer­ing, he will sell com­put­ers and get one-year work ex­pe­ri­ence in Kol­ha­pur. And af­ter a year’s ex­pe­ri­ence, he will be­gin his own busi­ness.

Balkr­ishna said, ‘I started my first com­pany Au­tosys Elec­tron­ics with 2 of my friends. It failed in 6 months. Then I started Grace com­mu­ni­ca­tions with one of the friends. Our first of­fice was on my friend’s ter­race in a 50 sq ft tin shed. Here we sold tele­phones, small PBX sys­tems, and tele­phone ca­bling. This ven­ture was quite suc­cess­ful.’

He fur­ther added, ‘Af­ter 3 yrs of op­er­a­tions, in 1992 my friend asked me to leave. I was shaken. How­ever, I did not give up. I then started my own firm Flair Tele­com in De­cem­ber 1992. I started do­ing the same busi­ness of tele­phones and small PBX sys­tems. Friends helped in get­ting deal­er­ship of Cromp­ton Greaves and I started work­ing alone.’

Some­where in 1994, de­mand for Com­put­ers started grow­ing. Then came the turn­ing point for Raju’s busi­ness when he got com­puter ca­bling or­der from Ki­netic Honda. From this par­tic­u­lar or­der on­wards, Raju’s fo­cus shifted to com­puter net­work­ing. He worked hard to un­der­stand this lat­est con­cept in the com­puter world that was boom­ing. Fur­ther, in 2000, he con­verted his firm into a pri­vate lim­ited com­pany and named it as Flair Tech­nolo­gies Pvt.Ltd.

PRO­FES­SIONAL LIFE

For the next 8 years, there was no look­ing back in Raju’s life. His com­pany was the first to im­ple­ment a cam­pus-wide thick Eth­er­net-based com­puter net­work.

While talk­ing about his pro­fes­sional life and its achieve­ments, he added, ‘We were the net­work­ing ven­dors of CDAC for their first PARAM Su­per­com­puter hav­ing in­stalled the first 1 Gi­ga­byte net­work in­fra­struc­ture. Then came the Eka Su­per­com­puter of Tata where we worked on 40 gi­ga­bytes. We were one of the first few to im­ple­ment the first (in In­dia) 10-gi­ga­byte data cen­tre for an IT com­pany in Pune. We de­vel­oped ex­per­tise in fi­bre op­tics de­sign­ing and im­ple­ment­ing large en­ter­prise fi­bre op­tic net­works for var­i­ous IT com­pa­nies and univer­si­ties across the coun­try. We soon be­came the lead­ers in struc­tured ca­bling.’

But year 2008 came as a big set­back for him. He had to quit the very com­pany he founded be­cause of some fam­ily is­sues.

His life mantra is to never give up. So, he started again with a new com­pany Kon­net So­lu­tions Pvt Ltd. To­day, Kon­net So­lu­tions is a lead­ing sys­tem in­te­gra­tor of Cisco with PAN In­dia op­er­a­tions with a team strength of 48 peo­ple, grow­ing at a CAGR of 31%.

To de­velop and grow fur­ther, Raju to­gether with Dr.Seva Panda started an­other group com­pany, Kon­net Vian. The fo­cus of the com­pany was to de­velop a soft­ware in the field of video an­a­lyt­ics.

So, they cre­ated an in­no­va­tive soft­ware sys­tem called IDTS that au­to­mat­i­cally tests the driv­ing skills of a can­di­date. Also, an­other path­break­ing prod­uct de­vel­oped by Kon­net Vian is ANPR (Au­to­matic Num­ber Plate Recog­ni­tion). ANPR in a tech­nol­ogy widely used in de­vel­oped coun­tries by law en­force­ment agen­cies.

Raju added, ‘Put­ting in 2 years of ex­ten­sive re­search, we have de­vel­oped our ANPR suite of prod­ucts keep­ing in mind In­dian con­di­tions. It is a world-class prod­uct that can com­pete with the best in the world. ANPR is an in­te­gral part of the smart cities that are pro­posed to be de­vel­oped in In­dia.’

‘At Kon­net Vian we fo­cus on new and ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies and have ap­plied for 4 patents in the last 4 years. The cur­rent fo­cus is the use of video an­a­lyt­ics in drones and in­te­gra­tion of ‘deep learn­ing’ and AI tech­niques in our prod­ucts.’

CHAL­LENGES FACED

The one chal­lenge that he is cur­rently fac­ing is about the ac­cept­abil­ity of In­dian prod­ucts. To this, he said, ‘I have seen that foreign prod­ucts are eas­ily ac­cepted by In­di­ans by virtue of th­ese be­ing foreign. We have bet­ter prod­ucts, but we are looked at as sec­ondary by our own coun­try­men. This must change.’

WHAT IS YOUR SUC­CESS MANTRA AND POLI­CIES IN LIFE?

While talk­ing about his mantra and phi­los­o­phy of life, he said, ‘I be­lieve in liv­ing a sim­ple life. I don’t like un­nec­es­sary lux­u­ries. My dream is to cre­ate an or­gan­i­sa­tion with good hu­man val­ues, which there is re­spect for ev­ery em­ployee. It should con­trib­ute to the well-be­ing of our so­ci­ety and the na­tion’.

AD­VICE TO YOUNG EN­TREPRENEURS

When we asked him about giv­ing some ad­vice to the young en­trepreneurs for lead­ing a suc­cess­ful life, he re­marked, ‘Get into some­thing which you like to do. Mone­tary gains should not be the main cri­te­ria. Risks are an in­te­gral part of the jour­ney. How­ever, don’t re­sist changes. If pos­si­ble have a cou­ple of op­tions. And never-give-up, you could be al­most there’.

FU­TURE PLANS

Balkr­ishna shared his fu­ture plans. He aims to be a leader in video an­a­lyt­ics in In­dia and among the top 50 video an­a­lytic com­pa­nies in the world.

He also added, ‘Along with my part­ner Dr.Seva, we will build an old age home! Noth­ing more needs to be said about it. We want to do it and we will do it’.

BALKR­ISHNA (RAJU) KON­DALKAR

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