Today, we have with us, Mr. Shailendra Verma. He founded Sharp TechnoEngineers Pvt Ltd, a technical consultancy firm that provides consultancy services for manufacturing firms.
Having worked with large engineering organisations as an employee for many years, Shailendra decided to take the plunge as an entrepreneur. Read on to understand his motivations, business philosophy, and the strategies he employed to become a renowned technical consultant.
To know more about how Shailendra did it all, read the full interview below!
Insellers: What was the idea behind getting into this business?
Shailendra: Ever since I was a kid, I enjoyed overcoming new challenges. I started my career in the irrigation department. During this period, wind energy was a novel concept. I was intrigued, and so I moved to the Non-Conventional Energy Development Association (NEDA). In 1993, I visited Larsen & Toubro to have a damaged tower repaired. I liked the work culture, people, and approach toward technical problems. I found repair-maintenance welding to be a challenging field and worked with L&T for ten years. However, as time went by, I realized I wasn’t giving enough time to my family. Since I had experience in Repair Maintenance, I formed my own company and took an Ador-Fontech dealership.
Insellers: What is your Target Market?
Shailendra: We are an Uttar Pradesh based technical consultancy for manufacturing firms. We focus on optimizing manufacturing processes and driving greater efficiency.
Insellers: What is a major difference between your approach and that of your competitors?
Shailendra: As a technical consultancy, we have built an excellent reputation amongst our clientele. The assurance that customers feel when using our services, enables us to charge a premium compared to the market rates.
Insellers: Who are your major competitors?
Shailendra: We have many competitors. But, if you can offer customers better value than your competitors, you can beat the competition. Troubleshooting problems immediately, whenever the customer requests, gives customers confidence in our services.
Insellers: What challenges did you face?
Shailendra: People with technical backgrounds must learn to face legal and commercial challenges. They must understand the commercial and legal aspects of running a business. For instance, the government takes away a large part of your earnings in the form of Sales Tax and Excise. So, understanding taxation is quite helpful. Now, it is much easier under the GST regime.
Insellers: Have you ever outsourced any vertical?
Shailendra: Sometimes, depending on the project requirements, we have outsourced some activities. However, most activities are conducted in-house.
Insellers: What major sales challenges have you faced?
Shailendra: At the beginning of the consultancy business, I would be called for training and lecture sessions, but would never bag any consultancy contracts. I worked on my sales approach and became better at selling our services.
Insellers: What was your sales approach when you were starting out?
Shailendra: Luckily, I developed contacts within the industry at Larsen & Toubro as an instructor in the Documentation & Training department. I would meet with technocrats from the industry during these training sessions. Having these contacts helped me immensely when I started out.
Insellers: What is your approach towards pricing in the consultancy industry?
Shailendra: Getting customers to pay high prices for the first time is certainly difficult. However, once you have shown that the quality of your work justifies the price; people will readily pay that amount. You can charge a premium compared to your competitors when you can offer absolute assurance to your customer. I would advise consultancies to start off with high prices. It is difficult to raise prices without upsetting customers.
Insellers: Where is SME consulting as a field going?
Shailendra: SME consulting is a good field in its nascent stages. Earlier, most small enterprises were unorganised and lacked structure. There was no technical know-how which resulted in low quality products. However, the newer generation wants to work in an organized and structured manner.
Insellers: How to approach SME clients as a management consultancy firm?
Shailendra: The SMEs which would require management consultants would be old family run businesses. These businesses are breaking up into smaller units as they get divided amongst different family members. These firms and their promoters need guidance during such times. Liaising with government agencies is also a possibility.
Insellers: What are some problems inherent to SMEs?
Shailendra: We are still caught in the “Lalaji” ways of running companies. These firms lack delegation and focus on short term cost savings. The decision making is centralised. However, new firms are doing it differently. They hire people from diverse backgrounds and focus on building a good team.
Sharp TechnoEngineers is a technical consultancy firm that focuses on providing consultancy services to manufacturing firms. It has constantly focused on offering a better value proposition to its customers, compared to its competitors. Today, its reputation has helped it to differentiate itself. In a fairly commoditized industry, this has helped them to stand out.
Sharp TechnoEngineers can focus on having a digital presence. In today’s technology oriented world, relying on contacts and networks may not be a reliable way to generate more business. The company can start off by building up a basic website and then focus on other aspects of having a digital presence. Sharp has a rich history, it can use detailed case studies and reviews on its site to help potential customers understand the value that it can offer.
We wish Shailendra good luck for the future and hope that they accomplish the targets they have for Sharp TechnoEngineers!