Sramana: What did you do when you recognized that your business was in trouble?
Abhishek Rungta: I recalled an incident that occurred when I was a student in the UK. At one point money was tight, and I needed to make some money quickly. I found a company that needed a forum built for them at a cost of £2,000. A friend of mine built it and delivered it in three days. That stuck with me. If I was able to get that type of job in college, why could I not get it now as well? That is when I decided to stop selling door to door to Kolkata businesses, and instead I focused on selling to people who had a demand and need to have a website.
I started researching how to sell online. I discovered sites like Elance and forums where people asked for web designers. Elance did well at that time. I started doing some projects through Elance. After a few days I started getting two to three projects per day. I then realized how I could build a real business. I started getting clients from all over the world, and I started hiring people to do the work.
In the beginning of 2002, I had a small capital round of four lakh rupees [~$7,421]. I was able to find an office and since so many were empty I was able to get a good deal. I took the office on the terms that I had to buy furniture. That took three lakh [~$5,430] of my capital, but that was OK with me since I knew how to make money again. The good thing about that office is that the bandwidth was good.
From that point on, the business was built on my working 16 to 19 hours a day. A defining moment for our company was when I realized that if I kept doing one project at a time, my business would never grow. I decided to offer a client the ability to pay me a retainer fee and I would manage the developer. I could draw a parallel to a hosting business. I could offer companies a full-time programmer for only $900. I would manage the delivery so that clients did not have to worry about that. Clients could also manage the developers themselves if they chose.
Sramana: Did you sell to agencies?
Abhishek Rungta: No. I sold to small businesses. In fact, I knew very little about segmentation. In 2004 I still had no clue. I was selling whatever I could think of at the moment. In 2002 I got my first client to sign up for that feature. This client was paying $800 a month and I was paying the developer 10,000 rupees [$~181] every month. As long as I got delivery every month, and as long as I was able to scale to 200 people, I would have the opportunity to make a lot of money.