Milind is a small town boy from Ponda who runs an InfoTech company called Genora InfoTech at Verna Industrial Estate. It may be difficult to believe that this 26 years young boy could also run a business that too was funded by him entirely with no business background or financial support. But it is true, here is the story of our young Goan Milind Prabhu, passed out of the Goa Engineering College, who began his journey by coding few programs and created a business out of it.
This age of a startup, this trend may be new in India but it started in developed countries half a century back. There is no doubt that the startups are the future inventors and entrepreneurs. The young generation does not want to work for others anymore and having said that the young Turks with extra talent always think of changing the world. We have an example of Mark Zuckerberg who invented Facebook and rest is a history. When I am talking about the startup let me introduce you to the young Goan entrepreneur Milind Prabhu.
When I met Milind for the first time he did not look like a boss of a company to me, very simple, humble and down to earth kind of personality but filled up with the excitement and joy. The fresh look of an entrepreneur that is what we can say. According to Milind, he started off right from the time he was in college. That does not mean that it was pre-planned that he would go into becoming the startup or something like that, according to him it’s just started happening, “If I look back into the past and connect the dots, things just happened. While I was in college I joined the network marketing company where I made some good profits. I was still in my first year of engineering then,” said Milind.
According to Milind, this first experience gave him encouragement to start the online shopping portal with one Pune-based company called shoppinglense.com and the wheels started moving. “I came across more people who were interested in making their own website and that gave me an idea of starting the business of making websites on a professional level. I then got in touch with the people around me in my college, such as my seniors and professors who knew little more about the website programming and that worked. We started making websites for the clients. This slowly evolved and we also made custom inventory software for many clients. The connection started building up in the local market and there was a lot of work that I could grab in immediately after moving from my college,” said Milind.
The job was never a cup of tea for Milind. After finishing the college he joined one company but he realized that his dream lays somewhere else. The journey to a new destination already started and Milind started doing research on the need of the industry and client profiles. “I had a good job but entrepreneurship work was more interesting. So I went into this and started doing business. When I started with it I started with understanding what a software business is. I knew a little bit of technology as we had done a lot of projects. But how does it work? I started understanding this. Understanding the process how the software is developed. The team also matured over the period of time. They knew how to develop the right software for the international customers. And I think in the second year of business we cracked through our first international customer. This is after starting my business, after college.”
When Milind started his business he was alone, although he had a team of developers with him but there were no partners. “I got the real help of GCCI (Goa Chamber of Commerce & Industry) they had an incubation center at that time. I had limited funds with me which I made from my previous projects and I could not afford to buy a lavish office. Here the help of chamber came to my rescue. Mr. Manguirish Pai helped me to get into the IT innovative center. I got in there and business just started off. I didn’t have to do a lot of capital investments. The investment for computers and coding I put from my side. We had workstations readily available. We started with three people so I had to get 3 systems. I was never worried about work. There was a lot of work,” he said.
Milind started off with the help of incubation center in 2011, slowly funds started flowing in from the smaller website and software development projects, in those days website building was a good market. He started making invoicing software, the point of sale software for the clients with his small team. This led to getting him bigger opportunities which according to him were the international customers. “Bigger opportunity or projects did not happen instantly, it was a gradual process. We had to have a complete market strategy to place ourselves in the outsourcing market. Because sitting here you cannot get progress, not even the traveling as it was not possible that time for one person. So better to reach out to people through the internet, keep searching, find people, and if you can connect the people well. We were startups and were very passionate about our work. So we started asking, we asked many times. Then someone said yes there is work. And we got the first customer from Tanzania that’s when we got an entry and then professional strategies were shaped in,” narrated Milind.
According to Milind, he managed to get the place in Verna Industrial Estate with the help of Goa Chamber where he has set up a bigger office. “As far as the setup and place is concerned we have been given a floor by Goa chamber in Verna. That is by GCCI. Goa chamber of commerce, it’s a joint project by Goa chamber and industries department by IDC,” said Milind.
According to Milind getting the funds from VCs works only for the product startups and not for the service industry, he classifies himself into the second category. “Funding works more fluently in a product startup. Like Flipkart is a product startup like all these online ventures are product startup in short, news app and all that. We are a service company. But yes, we are now looking out for a funding. I will tell you the exact reason. If you look at the companies like TCS and Infosys and you look at Stories at Goa like very close “Cognizant”. Cognizant’s co-founder and CEO is Goan and Cognizant is a service-oriented company,” said Milind.
Milind feels that surviving in the first ten years of gestation period is most crucial and for that one needs to keep improving the quality. “The average time for any software startup IT Company to scale up is about 10 yrs. So for us, we have not taken any funding. We have done a lot of progress. If the service companies get way bigger in terms of their size, manpower so the “Funda” is little different but till you get that pivotal point of this company you need to keep struggling, this is what I already knew. What I have recently realized is if I even accept funding as we have already completed four and a half year, so this 10 yrs long journey can be reduced to 7 yrs if I have funding that is possible,” Milind narrated.
Milind is searching for the strategic investments rather than just a financial help. “Today we have already completed 4 and 1/2 years of struggle. Yes, I am now looking out for investment. But it should be a strategic investment from the investor who understands that our company has already completed four and half years of struggle and went on becoming international from local. Our company has gone from being technically low to being very technically strong. This is how we have built. And we are looking out for a strategic partner,” told Milind.
When I asked him what exactly he means by the strategic partner he said that “strategic partner for us would be a person who is willing to invest, and also willing to be actively involved in setting up a big IT giant. “Well according to me, if somebody has money, that’s enough because we know how IT works. So that’s again not a problem. We don’t want a person with specific IT knowledge. We do outsourcing, we know the clients across, we know the requirements, we know the international standard, and we know how to connect. We only need a person with a good network who can connect us globally with the right kind of people,” he added. Milind also feels that his talent and his team’s efforts are being compromised many a time due to the lack of funding. “I feel that we cannot explore ourselves due to the lack of funding. I am not saying excess funds but at least sufficient funds to explore ourselves. Then I think we can go much faster. We can handle that growth and we make a big IT story very soon,” said Milind.
If you ask anybody about the struggle that they have faced in their life they will give you different examples of the struggle they went through due to the circumstances but Milind has a different story altogether to tell here. According to him, “The most important struggle was my struggle with my own self. What I believe is I don’t come from a business family. Off course, my dad gave me support in the business, in education, and he has given me best of what he could do. So the point I wanted to clear here is I don’t come from business family and hence managing that stress, managing proper schedule, maintaining a diet, giving time for everything has not come naturally to me. My biggest struggle was always with my own self. What I think is it’s a matter of change. Every day I tried changing myself a little bit. My brain was accepting a little amount of change in the schedule saying this is what you have to do.”
Milind started bringing that change in him by using the autosuggestion tactics. “I used to keep check on what I do and if I go wrong anywhere I used to tell myself ‘this is not working so change this’ when I wake up at 7 am in the morning I used to tell myself ‘Milind you need to wake up at 6.30 from tomorrow’ and it started working. I realized that I was kind of training my brain to perform in a certain manner and that was working well,” Milind narrated. According to Milind, there is no point in taking the stress in business. “I don’t take any stress of work since according to me, I have chosen to be in that situation and problems will come but I enjoy solving them. So for me, it is not stress. My biggest problem is to keep maintaining the strict routine of diet pattern that keeps me active throughout the day and does not doze off at the workplace,” he said grinning. According to him despite all the efforts he has not even covered 2 to 3% of the journey of the learning process and “I don’t have another 20 years to learn remaining 97%. There is a lot to cover and miles to go,” he added.
Milind told me that he also has a sales office in the UK with three representatives looking after the operations out there. “We connect with them via calls to keep a check on the progress on day to day basis and decide the task for the next day. They help us to outsource the work from the UK,” said Milind.
According to Milind, people at Silicon Valley in the US are buzzing with ideas and they have people like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg to follow. “They have a huge amount of confidence level and they are sure about getting the proper support and platform for their ideas. But in our country and especially in our state this kind of ecosystem does not exist,” said Milind. Milind feels that the budding entrepreneurs in Goa need to believe that things can happen. The feeling of ‘I can do it’ is more important to Milind. “According to me, the biggest challenge that youth is facing in Goa today is the belief that they can do and the things can happen.
Because once you believe that I can also do it, you can start your efforts towards it. And believe me, in IT when you start taking efforts things starts getting simpler and much easier. Most crucial part is the energy barriers that stops you from starting something, once you start you have done most of the things, for me that’s what I believe in product and service startup. But, once you get to that flow, it also depends on the talent as well. Because what I believe is that it’s all about problem-solving and if the entrepreneur is very good in problem-solving, then he will anyways make it through. Anybody will not understand the problem solving unless he overcomes that peak unless starting it,” said Milind.
Milind also does a lot of meditation. According to him, meditation can solve all the problems. “For me, it is always solving the puzzle. How to plan to start up a commodity, how to sale this platform, who will buy this platform, is this platform really going to sell. Because all you have is only an idea. And you put 15 to 20 lakh in building it up. And if you build something that people are not going to buy it will fail. And if you don’t market back again, then it will fail back again. These all are puzzles. You should not take a setback come up with another strategy. That is called as problem-solving. I believe that meditation helps me a lot. Be calm and it is solving a lot of my problems. I do meditation on a daily basis. For me, meditation can also be done when I am traveling in my car with my driver. If I get 20 min, I would spend that 20 min meditating,” Milind narrated.
Milind has done a lot of contributions towards the state of Goa. “Well, we have automated Ponda municipality. We have done online taxation for them. All the house tax is paid online. You can pay house tax online with credit or debit cards,” Milind concluded with this.
Milind Prabhu is a live example of new generation entrepreneur and achiever at very young age. One has a lot to learn from this Young Turk. If you know any such personality who had achieved the great success in very young age please do suggest us and we would be more than happy to feature them in our publications. You can write to us at [email protected]