Sramana: So, you realized you could scale the business with that model?
Abhishek Rungta: Yes. I termed it “dedicated hiring.” I would market it on Elance and other places as well. We also did PPC with Overture, GoTo, and others prior to Google. Within a few days, I saw our model was getting copied every day. I then went out and trademarked the term “dedicated hiring.” I am proud of the impact I made in this business.
Sramana: How much of your business came from pay per click (PPC) channels compared to Elance?
Abhishek Rungta: The moment I shifted to GoTo, I got most of the business from there.
Sramana: What terms were you advertising on?
Abhishek Rungta: I went for terms like “web design.” There was nobody going after that market. I captured that market in the early days because there was no competition.
Sramana: How much business were you able to capture in those days?
Abhishek Rungta: I think it was one crore [ten million rupees, or ~$178,860]. It was not much, but at least I was seeing the model working. This was from 2003 to 2004.
Sramana: What happened next?
Abhishek Rungta: I started hiring more people as I got business. In no time I had scaled the business to 200 people. The business grew fast, and I did not have much of a management level.
Sramana: What came next?
Abhishek Rungta: I remembered what happened in the past. It was great that I was building this online, but I knew that in no time others would copy it and compete with me. My business growing that time, so I started working on expanding across the world. I went to the UK first because I had studied there. When I got there, I fell back to the door-to-door model.
In 2007 I really started to understand business models, management levels, and how to grow the business. In the UK I met people who changed my business philosophy. The door-to-door strategy is the worst possible way to sell. I then had some massive showdowns with UK companies that wanted to prove that Indian companies who could not design for UK companies. All of the UK companies felt I was threatening. That gave me the idea that instead of competing with them, I should join them. In 2008 and 2009 I saw a massive boost in the business. We jumped to 400 people in our company, again with our dedicated hiring model.
Sramana: What came next for your business?
Abhishek Rungta: From 2009 to 2011 I had a period of total stagnation. I did not know how to control things. I was going by the books too much. I read books on business management that talked about mentorship and goal setting. I tried to apply those things, but I did not monitor people well. During that time I crossed five million [dollars], but I also learned that I lost a lot of leads because folks were not tackling leads as they should have been. I had given out too much control, and I learned that lesson in 2011.