Weekly Startup Profiles > Pennywise Solutions
|Sometimes, starting a business is more about the determination to break out on one's own, than about chasing a great opportunity. Having ditched the corporate world, the Pennywise team carves its entrepreneurial path, one client at a time.|
Software development solutions for small and medium businesses
The idea came later. The big decision here was to cut loose from the mainstream and do things their own way. "We decided there was a lot more we could do with the education and the backgrounds we come from," states Anand Morzaria.
So, five friends quit their jobs across the country and gathered in Hyderabad, where, they believed, the growing infrastructure and atmosphere was most conducive for the business they had in mind.
It was perhaps inevitable that they would choose to work in the IT space, providing software solutions to small and medium-sized companies. "At BITS, whatever subjects you opt for, about 90 percent of the subjects are rooted in engineering and technology," explains Anand, who despite a Masters in Finance, understood technology and, more importantly, understood what it could do to enable people.
Without too much additional planning, the adventurous young team rented out two apartments, shacked up in one, set up their office in the other, rolled up their sleeves and got going.
The plan was to "empower businesses with technology." And once their basic infrastructure was in place, the team began contacting people, showcasing their capabilities and actively seeking business.
They realized that smaller companies needed a wide range of services, but couldn't access the larger companies' services. These companies needed cheaper, but very reliable, solutions.
The team of BITSians was willing to tackle almost any problem. Their services range from providing customized software for application development and maintenance, development of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, portal and web development.
Despite their name, the Pennywise team doesn't rely on pricing to keep their customers. They provide a personal touch especially important to smaller businesses; Anand believes that even if you are in the midst of your own wedding, you take a customer's call.
Anand sums up his 'customer first' policy, "Without clients, we do not exist. Without happy clients, we do not last long, and without delighted clients, we are not leaders."
The policy seems to be working: after eight months, the start up reached break-even. Pennywise now has over 50 clients for their custom IT services business.
Self-funded and proud of it. From the start, Pennywise ensured that they lived up to their name.
Anand and his team hired or leased all infrastructure, the biggest investments made were in terms of technology: software licenses, computers, servers, high bandwidth. Second and third hand furniture was put together by the gang themselves.
The key was to make every paisa count: "You have to be completely business-minded. You're not in the business of charity. Even if you're lending business money to your dad, make sure you charge him," Anand explained.
Having reached break-even, the company has started investing more in technology initiatives, new projects, and people. Anand smiles, "It's a wonderful feeling to have money in your bank account."
They had jobs at companies like SAP, Cognizant and JP Morgan Chase before leaping into entrepreneurship.
For this team, the friendships are the key: "You need to have a very good team," Anand declares unequivocally. "You need wonderful people with you as you have to spend a lot of time together, day in and day out running a business, so it's really important. I am very lucky in this aspect."
Building on a strong base of clients, Pennywise is venturing into new territories.
Anand is all gung ho about a new product that Pennywise has just launched: tolmolbol.com, a website that claims 'getting to know your neighborhood has become not just easy but a whole lot of fun.' This local search service is present across 100 Indian cities and it seems to be just the beginning of Anand's plans for his company's future.
Apart from building on search technologies and Web 2.0 enablers like tolmolbol.com, Pennywise has plans of developing their own products for sustained revenue.
Optimistic and enthusiastic, Anand insists he's totally open to exploring new business areas in the IT space. With his flexible, down-to-earth approach, and the backing of a strong team, Anand believes got a winning combination.
I don't dwell upon negatives! smiles Anand. So the only thought keeping him up is, "What's the next big thing we can come out with?"
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