Enabling Telcos and Service Providers launch in-Country cloud services in emerging markets
With an increasing focus and legislation coming in on Data Localisation globally, there is a huge opportunity for Telecom Companies in developing countries to set up an in-country edge cloud and offer IaaS/PaaS/SaaS to local Enterprises and SMBs. However, being a new business line, Service Providers do not have a complete understanding of how to set up and run this business.
IndiQus is a fast-growing Cloud solutions company that works with Service Providers (Telcos, ISPs and Datacentre providers) globally and helps them set up and run an in-country cloud business.
IndiQus provides 360-degree solutions covering software, professional services and business consulting to enable the Service Provider to build and operate a local cloud business. Their customers include the likes of Airtel-Nxtradata, Vodafone, Ooredoo, Sri Lanka Telecom, and Datahub. IndiQus is a recognized start-up under the Start-up India initiative.
The master brain behind the company’s long-standing success is Mr. Sunando Bhattacharya – Co-Founder and CEO.
The Initial Challenges
• Selling to large companies/startups – During the first year, IndiQus faced a lot of challenges in closing deals. Even after doing successful POCs/Demos, 2 big clients did not give order to them as they did not have faith in their long-term survivability. The irony is that 6 years later IndiQus is very much still around whereas one of the bigwig has shut down.
• Tackling Government regulations
– IndiQus ran into a major issue with Sales Tax regulations (this was pre-GST era) in the first year, wherein they were not aware that they needed to file Sales Tax returns even if they have not made any revenues/sales. Thus they were slapped with a 2 lakh rupees fine when they had barely started earning. This put a huge dent in plans as they were bootstrapping and had to use business funds to pay for this.
• Hiring – When you are operating
out of your house basement/garage, it is very difficult to attract talent and IndiQus also faced the same. Hence they took a quick decision to move to a co-working space as soon as they could afford it. Even then, they found a lot of people averse to joining a new Start-up. Also due to the crazy funding happening in B2C Start-ups in the 2014-2016 period, the average salaries had gone through the roof, and it was virtually impossible for a bootstrapped Start-up to hire experienced talent. They hired freshers as interns and trained them. This later help them in absorbing them as fulltime developers. And this was all worth as they were able to create a strong loyal team.
Triggering points for the growth
Two trigger points that changed the course for IndiQus. For them, both were a distinct shift from a project to a product paradigm, and it worked wonders for them as it elevated IndiQus to a different league. The opportunity came in 2015. IndiQus was approached by Citrix (a large system integrator) to work on a very small part of setting up integrations for Sri Lanka Telecom. But, seeing IndiQus’ deep understanding, solution providing approach and their domain expertise, the client awarded his entire cloud setup to IndiQus.
The next trigger followed soon when they sold the same offering to one of India’s largest telcos in a multi-year contract. These successes not only validated the intrinsic strength of our product but also gave a clear indication of product-market fit. These trigger points effectively put the global telco market within IndiQus reach.
The growth since inception
IndiQus was initially a service-centric company, working as a system integrator from 2013-15. In this period, they saw decent Top line revenues but poor Bottom line (EBITDA around 7%). In 2015 they pivoted to a Product centric company that brought down their top line in 2015 but enhanced profitability significantly. IndiQus FY 2019 EBITDA is 22%. In hindsight, they pivoted at the right time else they might not have survived till now. Sunando says, “Keep things simple. If you enter the rat race, you become a Rat!”
The reason behind the company’s long-standing success
• IndiQus business approach of Customers First, Employees Second, Profits thereafter.
• They leverage open-source technologies to deliver enterprise-grade solutions to their clients at a significantly lower TCO than the competition
• Their ability to offer a strong software-defined IT infrastructure to customers enables them to be very flexible and yet competitive in their offerings
• At IndiQus, they follow a rigorous and tested process of spending quality time in the design phase of their work so that the deployment is smooth and execution flawless.
Responsibilities of entrepreneurs
• An entrepreneur is the head of the family and all his team members are his extended family. It is very important that he/she takes good care of his team and helps them achieve their professional and personal goals.
• He/she is also responsible for ensuring customer’s success. Until and unless the customer succeeds in his business goals, the entrepreneur cannot succeed.
• Lastly, he is responsible for constantly creating value for all shareholders… be it himself, friends & family or external investors. Enhancing Enterprise Value is the primary responsibility of the entrepreneur.
IndiQus empower organizations to strategically harness the full potential of the cloud, by using bespoke and unique combinations of public and private clouds, to carry out a seamless transformation and address unique business requirements. Their key offerings are:
apiculus™: IndiQus proprietary product apiculus™ combines the power of open-source, the security of private clouds and the scalability of public clouds into a single-window, thereby significantly reducing the complexities of cloud operations and opening up new monetization opportunities for CSPs and ISPs.
rack: Unlike other enterprise cloud solutions, IndiQus’ cloud offering stack ‘rack’ is purely built on open-source technologies with enterprise-grade SLAs and zero vendor lock-ins, which enables clients to reduce their technology costs by 50–60%.
At IndiQus they also provide auditing, cloud consulting, cloud design, cloud deployment and other cloud solutions for enterprises and businesses running on the cloud.
IndiQus is working on a few initiatives that are in Stealth mode currently, and will soon be announcing about it in Q1 2020.
The company taking further steps with
IndiQus is constantly looking to expand their horizons by:
• Expanding to new markets – They started with India and South Asia (2013-16) and then went to Middle-East in 2017, and now targeting South East Asia, Aus. & NZ, Africa in 2019-2020. IndiQus has partnered with leading IT services companies in these markets to sell their solutions in these markets.
• Expanding Product and Services portfolio – IndiQus is continuously looking to enhance the breadth of its product and services offering as per the market needs. Their product development roadmap is 100% customer-driven, and they also partner with customers to establish new services lines.
Sunando says, “We need to be vigilant of what our competition is doing, how are our customer’s needs evolving and most importantly the company’s financials, especially cash flows.”
Professional experience and key achievements
Before starting IndiQus, Sunando was working in the Managed IT Services industry for 15 years. He has done roles across Sales, Marketing and Product Management. He thinks it’s too early in their journey to call anything an achievement. The fact that they are bootstrapped, profitable and fast-growing venture is a collective achievement of the entire team. IndiQus was ranked amongst the 10 most innovative start-ups for 2017 in India by NASSCOM.
Stay Hungry Stay Foolish by Rashmi Bansal. It’s the book that inspired Sunando to become an Entrepreneur. Sunando says, “I follow Alok Kejriwal and his #dhandekibaat posts closely on Twitter. One of the few guys who give sensible gyaan. Also Gary Vaynerchuk”. He is also greatly influenced by Sanjeev Bhikchandani of Naukri.com.
The IndiQus team is a healthy mix of experienced veterans and young blood. This brings together a lot of different viewpoints and leads to healthy debates. Sunando says, “I am proud to say that every team member of mine is an active contributor to the company’s growth and goes beyond the call of their duty to keep our customers happy. I treat everyone as a friend and we do not have any hierarchical systems and processes. All of us sit together, work together and party together.”
Don’t let perfection become procrastination. Do it now!