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Akshay Agarwal’s sharp rise via the software route – The Economic Times

When he was 18 years old, Akshay Agarwal’s hostel room printing venture ran the neighbourhood printer out of business. “While pursuing MBA from Jain College in Bangalore, I registered for an apprenticeship programme . Under it, each student had to multiply an allocated budget of Rs1,000,” says Agarwal, adding, “I stumbled upon my opportunity right outside college.” He explains that the only shop near his college offering printing services charged Rs8 per page. “I started researching on reducing the cost and discovered that the actual cost of printing a page was less than Rs1.50,” he says. So Agarwal leased a printer and started offering a cut-throat rate of Rs5 per page. “Within three months, I not only managed to make Rs80,000, but also bagged the entrepreneur award in my programme,” he says. Given that he hails from a family of entrepreneurs , his next step raised no brows: he used nearly Rs25,000 of his profit to start a business. “My father was keen that I join the family’s manufacturing rolling mills, but I decided to foray into website designing instead,” says Agarwal, 26. He tied up with a software vendor to reserve space on his server, for which he paid nearly Rs6,000. He also kept aside Rs1,000 a month to advertise on business networking sites. “I saved the rest of the seed capital for contingencies,” he says. Finally, in February 2006, even before he graduated, he launched his venture, Akshay Solutions. “My first job was to develop a website for the BBM department at my college. More orders followed and, in the first year of operations, my revenue was almost Rs3 lakh,” he says. Lacking time, Agarwal outsourced jobs to smaller software developers, checked the work quality, and billed clients under his own brand name. A year later, he renamed the company, Tech Active Solutions, in an attempt to widen the reach. Then, in 2008, Agarwal enrolled for a oneyear course in management and organisational change from Lancaster University, UK, and employed a friend in Bangalore to handle his business in his absence. “During this period, I discovered that one could charge Rs2-3 lakh for creating a website in the UK, compared with just Rs15,000-20,000 in India,” he says. So, after completing the course in 2009, Agarwal set up an office in Lancaster and employed four people. “Due to the recession , we got a 200 sq ft place on lease for one-fifth the actual cost,” he says. He then set up a new company, AS Global, to manage the UK operations. Around the same time, he scaled up the operations in India and moved into a 2,500 sq ft office staffed by 20 people. His turnover for 2009-10 was Rs30 lakh. The next step was to get into product development. “We began developing mobile applications as well. In 2010, Subrata Ghosh, the ad guru, liked our work and helped us bag contracts for companies such as Mahindra & Mahindra, the Future Group and Haldiram’s,” says Agarwal. Nearly 30 per cent of his revenue now comes from the product division. In recent times, Agarwal’s 75-employee company has developed a new software designed to help farmers. Their turnover in 2012-13 was close to Rs5 crore and are expecting a 30 per cent growth this year. Next on the cards is new products for head-hunting companies and the education sector.
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