Sramana: What was your experience at the IT exhibition like?
Abhishek Rungta: The first booth I saw had some problems going on. They were a modem based company, but the staff in that booth had very little education and did not want to be very active in helping to sell the modems. I went to the booth and made them an offer. I asked them if I could have half of the booth for a certain amount of money. I just made them an offer and they agreed. The man was more than happy to rent me out a portion of the stand. That is funny to think about today, but back at that time I was happy to negotiate that deal.
I had a small amount of money in my pocket, so I created a pamphlet and printed up a little guide. I did not even think about a company name or anything. I just sat there and started selling.
Sramana: What were you selling?
Abhishek Rungta: I was just selling web designs. I thought the whole world was about HTML web designs. I had people asking me I could install the Internet in their homes, if I could teach them about the Internet, and if I could do small odd jobs for them on the Internet. I had several small leads from day one alone, and one of them turned into a client the very next day. It was a small job worth about 3,000 rupees, but that was enough to pay the rent on the stand, which meant that I would not have to borrow money from my dad!
The most exciting thing that happened is that when I went to pay the 2,000 rupees [~$36] I owed for my piece of the stand, the man did not take my money because I had been so helpful in selling his modems. I did not say anything, but for me that was a defining moment of my life. That is how I started off.
I then started going to the people whom I met at the show. I made about 15,000 rupees [~$270] by going to people’s homes and installing the Internet. I found out that you could make a small commission from modem companies when you install a modem at someone’s home. I also found that I could make a commission from Internet companies when I installed the Internet at someone’s home. That was my first experience about how things worked.
I had one company tell me they had heard it was possible to make international calls using the Internet. I researched that on the Internet and found that Net2Phone existed, so I became a reseller for Net2Phone. People were happy to pay just to have the Internet installed on their PCs. They would pay 10,000 rupees [~$180] to have software installed. Within a few months, I think I made three lakh rupees [~$5,400] just by installing the Internet in people’s homes. Everyone was interested in getting access to international calling via the Internet. That would cut their costs. The product was free on the Internet, but most people did not know that, they did not know how to install it, and they could not use it. I would teach them how to do all of that.