Wordsmith Casebook : Small Business Nightmare, IT services firm, Hyderabad

Background

Sometime in 2016, I and a colleague of mine in Calcutta visited Hyderabad to attend a national convention cum exhibition related to IT. My intention was to make a rapid tour of Kerala from there because I do not like cities without a river or by the sea. I was also depressed by finding that the airport was so far away from the city and no good public transport available. You are not airdropped, you are dropped into nowhere with some INR 1000 to pay, one way to go to the city. I thanked my city Calcutta for having airport in such a location that I, sometimes go to airport in my  moped, drop it with Kanu-da (tea shop owner) and fly off.

There, in the convention, I met a young man in a booth – he was founder of a IT firm with his friend after taking a loan of INR 30 L from his father. His experience : he had worked for two years as IT support executive in a company and his friend also invested some INR 20 L in the business in addition to being a Co-Founder. Experience : worked in a Call Centre for six months.  The business was hemorrhaging money and founders were locking heads. One single look at their booth told me the first sign of trouble : they claimed to do everything – from training to Big Data, Mobile to Social, Analytics to Solutions. It was a classic, pitiably common and supremely idiotic – “me too”, “me too”, “me too” baboon calls.

First Investigative Measures

  • The office of the firm was in those glass and steel “Business Parks” that grew like mushrooms everywhere in our country with scant regard for beauty, looks and aesthetics. Most of them look hideous and ghastly.  The office was a vanity project for the founders, to talk of “office”, going to “office”, printing “office address”.  Bad habit of working in corporate offices early in one’s life. The rent was royal and no customer was coming.
  • Some of their claims were plain lies – they had neither in-house expertise nor tight supply chain – they were simply parroting like idiots those “hip” terms.
  • There were 4 employees too and they were clueless, drive-less and bathed in their own vanity of “working in a start-up.” What work !
  • I also met a young lady, girl friend of one of the founders who was an air-hostess, designer cum part time HR  and the design of the office reflected that -of her living in dodgy hotels and relaxing in airport cafes with no personality, only gimmicks.
  • They have cash left to pay for next 3 months of rent.

De-Briefing 

Interview with the founders and the girlfriend present – summary surgical report

  • You both appear to me, from our interaction so far to be wasting monies of your parents which I am sure were hard-earned. You are full of vanity and pretense and the most damaging is your incapability of not being “in reality.”. And Miss Air Hostess, what is your experience in linking expensive yet tawdry design of an IT services firm ? So, all of you – be real. You are certifying yourself to be utter idiots with air blown up in your asses to anyone who is a serious client material. You are liars and false advertisers. You both are behaving like chimps with smartphone and because it is other fellow’s money.
  • Build on your strength. Do you really need an office ? You can save all the rent and pay your employees more by working from home, all of you. Only real skill and an important in-house one you have is IT support. Why don’t you build on that instead of all dodgy and mythical services you claim to offer ? Be real – build on a stable ground, not on air from your pompous and fat backside.
  • Your next office should be built by money earned by the business and not of your parents. You write a IOU note to your parents and consider that as a bank loan, not a gift from loving yet ignorant parents.
  • Be disciplined – do not behave like a fat cat since you have a booth in some large show – these are not work, at least where you are now, these are fine-tuning of rascal-dom and idiocy.

Latest Report

I received a call sometime in the peak of lock-down from one of the founders, the one who worked in IT support. They had closed the office after money ran out in two months. The other co-founder left and so the air hostess also vanished along with. He, with three of his employees started a home-call laptop-IT-system support. It grew slowly and now he has a business that was in profit. During lock-down, business boomed and he had to employ five more people to take care of the demand. They had learnt IT sanitizing in addition to IT support. He tied up with a mobile repair man and was handling mobile repair also. His existing clients became his “advertising booth”.  Next year, hopefully, they will have a floor where they can put all the technicians to work with system for clients to see via web-cam in real time the work being done. I congratulated him and  wished him well and he said : “… when you first spoke in our office, you remember, I wanted to kick you out of our office. I was very very angry and so were the other two. No one in my life spoke like this to me. But, I thank you for being the first one to do so.”

“Why ?”

“Had someone done earlier by kicking my ass, I would not have lost 30 L of my parent’s money which I have to pay now.”

“Excellent – now you know the virtue of kick-ass policy, pass this along when you see another pompous ass as you move ahead in life. This is thankless work but necessary. Consider this my fee for the services rendered 🙂 “

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