Sramana: Bimal, let’s start with your personal story. Where does your entrepreneurial journey begin?
Bimal Patwari: I went to college at IIT Kharagpur where I studied electronics, and then did mygraduate work in marketing and finance at the Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow.
Sramana: What time was this, and what did you do after Lucknow?
Bimal Patwari: I finished IIM Lucknow in 1990. I did a year of work as a management consultant in Mumbai and Delhi. That was where I realized that I was in a cage. It was really bad for me because I could not handle working in an environment where there was no freedom. I had a lot of passion in my life, but I could not do anything at my job. I decided to quit my role as a management consultant and start my entrepreneurship journey.
Sramana: Did you start this company in 1991?
Bimal Patwari: Yes. I started the domestic part of my company at that time. My current line of business was started in 1997.
Sramana: Let’s start off by focusing on the business you founded in 1991. How did you get started?
Bimal Patwari: When I was growing up in Bengal, business and entrepreneurship seemed like they were taboo in our state. It was the last preferred profession for anybody. Business people, especially the small business people, were looked down upon. My parents did not want me to study business. I studied at the medical college and the engineering college together for six months because my parents, and my grandfather in particular, felt that there was real respect in the medical career. He wanted me to become a doctor because then I would be respected.
I ultimately decided to study engineering and get an MBA. Once I realized I was not cut out for the 9-to-5 corporate environment, I decided to go out on my own. That was in 1991. At that time computers were starting to become popular. They were being introduced into colleges. I became an AutoDesk certified partner and I got in touch with the best computer training institute in India. We used to give training for all AutoDesk products to engineering students as well as to various companies in the local area. I did that for the next five to six years. I also did some CAD customization and software development at the same time.
Sramana: Why did you choose AutoDesk?
Bimal Patwari: I knew the engineering space and the culture in Kharagpur was one were there were a lot of engineers and companies that used engineers. I felt there would be a demand for CAD training. At that time the quality of training in those local colleges was not that good, whereas we were certified trainers and we provided a great curriculum. We became very popular with students.