‘Listening to the needs of the customer and implementing it effectively with a valued team can bring huge returns’
Tejo Ramakanth Ravuri and Rajesh Yarramasu, final year electronics and communication engineering students from MGIT in the City, have started Zestwings with their pocket money in a small left out room of a photo studio. The duo proved that neither finance nor the family background will be criteria to create successful business, if there is will to accomplish it. A Rs.30,000 investment company with two employee team in January 2009 reached a turnover of Rs.1 crore last fiscal.
Talking about the idea, Ramakanth says “We had many start up ideas from canteen to bakery, but lastly took up technological platform for our business. Those were the days, when start-ups like way2sms from the City were highly successful. The idea was to replicate their model finding a new revenue source. We started offering free SMS on phone through web. For every SMS, there were 40 characters of advertising out of 160 characters message. We soon created a good client base, with the first income Rs.600 from Arena Multimedia.
“After a while, clients were requesting us to offer a full message for advertising rather than 40 characters, by which they can send their customers about new stocks in the shop and offers. That is how, we created bulk messaging, a platform by which a client can send his marketing messages to 30 lakh customers in 45 minutes. Most of our business is built on fulfilling the market demand with effective implementation in an appropriate time.”
He adds, “We did not target any turnover mark but rather targeted to increase client base, by which we can reap long term returns. We the sales force of two people, we built a client base of 1,100 customers in first year. The commitment in fulfilling the customer needs helped us to bring in more customers with word of mouth without spending anything on marketing.”
Zestwings do not have a single employee who left the company in all these years. “Our Team is also responsible for all of our achievements; we never had the technical expertise or knowledge in the subject area. Most of the initial employees of the Zestwings had job offer letters in hand from MNCs when they joined us. They chose us despite they were not sure of fixed pay neither the brand name. The only reason for them to join us is that they could sense our vision and thought process in building this company. I can confidently say, we kept their trust and made them grow along with us.”
“We never limited them to work, but always shared the successes and growth of the company by ensuring a family-like bonding. Financial success is of no value when you can’t retain the people who were part of the foundation building team,” he says.
When asked about the financial hiccups during the process, Ramakanth says, “We were literally zero at every step, with neither with finances nor technical expertise. There was a need of 15-20 employees to generate a new revenue stream by switching in to IT (web development and solutions). We did not do it in one go, there is always risk involved with the growth. We were balanced in our approach by initially hiring a web designer who could design static websites. Once we saw revenues coming in we employed more people. This solved our investment problem and also let us grow steadily.”
Talking about personal life Rajesh says, “My father is a farmer and he is my inspiration all along. I learnt to be balanced in life from him. Start-ups with small investments may face a day without a rupee in the pocket or when there was no business coming in for few months. We never let it impact our fellow employees. Neither, we went on unnecessary spending when there is huge money.”
The ultimate objective of the company is to become a global brand across the products and services. To achieve that, the company has set three goals in their action plan for 2017. It will be in five different verticals at least in two global locations with an IPO. It wants to spread to all the tier-1 and tier-2 cities of the country with at least one marketing person. More important of all, to provide a residential space for the first 100 employees of the company in return for their efforts put in for the growth of the company.
The firm also came up with an application, GRID (http://itsmygrid.com) by which students can upload and share their resume while availing other benefits. It also provides support for the students working on innovation in robotics, which was a dream that Rajesh could not realise after graduation due to financial problems.
Number of clients: 3,400
Clientele: Bigbazaar, Levi’s, Pepe
Investments in assets: Rs.15-20 lakh
2009-2010: Rs.15-20 lakh
2010-2011: Rs.50-60 lakh
2011-2012: Rs.1 cr
Target: 2012-2013: Rs.3-4 cr