Advice for entrepreneurs – Gireendra Kasmalkar

Gireendra Kasmalkar (Giri), whose testing startup VeriSoft was recently acquired by SQS, was interviewed for CSI Pune’s quarterly newsletter Desktalk. Some quotes from that interview that should be especially inspirational are reproduced here with permission. You should be able to download the the newsletter (containing the full article) from CSI Pune website’s download section. (It’s the July-Aug-Sept 2008 newsletter.)

About how your attitude towards something makes all the difference:

Initially, testing was a new area and it was a tough to convince people about it. Even today testing is sometimes looked down upon. My response: “I am glad you think of testing that way. That is what creates the opportunities for us!”.

About how to deal with commoditization in your domain:

But the testing industry was maturing. Every company now had an ‘independent’ testing practice. To maintain our leadership, we had to specialize further. We did that horizontally in such specialized areas as automation, load / performance, security and usability testing, even publishing papers in international conferences.

But we also realized we had to develop a vertical. It had to be a vertical right for our size and where we could have a shot at global leadership. After due consideration, we decided that Games was that vertical. It was not at all easy to enter this vertical. But today we test for top 10 publishers in the video games industry and have authorization with all 3 major console manufacturers – Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft. In the on-line games industry, we not only test for game developers / publishers, but also for regulatory bodies for their compliance.

On how a small startup can make an impact:

For an entrepreneur, focusing on a niche is crucially important. One can hope to compete and beat the bigger, already established players only in a niche of your strength. More often than not, this niche would be a new area, and the entrepreneur only has his / her own data and analysis to see the hidden potential in the new area.

On the importance of networking for success:

This is where networking plays a very important role. Networking in the industry can bring you data about the trends in the industry. And you can even get your analysis of that data, and your ideas validated using your network. I was lucky to have the IIT network, the Jnana Prabodhini network, the TCS network because of my earlier background. But I also actively worked to build new networks through forums such as SPIN, CSI and MCCIA. In fact, there was a group of 8-10 successful industry seniors, whom I met once a year, by formal appointment, specifically for discussing my activities and seeking their suggestions. To their credit, none of these people ever refused my request. I definitely became a better entrepreneur as a result of these meetings.

From my own experience, I strongly recommend active participation in forums such as CSI.

I particularly like the suggestion about meeting 8 to 10 successful industry seniors on an yearly basis. I had started doing this with about 2, and based on Giri’s suggestion, I plan on increasing that to 8 to 10.

And I certainly agree with active participation in forums. Giri suggests CSI-Pune. I would strongly suggest getting involved in the Pune OpenCoffee Club. There are a whole bunch of other groups and organizations where you could get involved. Check out the Groups and Organizations Page from the PuneTech wiki.

Final word from Giri:

To me, entrepreneurship is less about making money and more about making a difference. (There must be easier ways of making money .) An entrepreneur provides a viable solution to a problem (need). On the flip side, the entrepreneur’s capabilities are stretched to the maximum extent possible, which I find very satisfying.

About the Interviewee – Gireendra Kasmalkar

Gireendra Kasmalkar (Giri) is the Founder Director of Prabodhan and Verisoft InfoSystems, and after the recent acquisition of Verisoft, is the MD and CEO of SQS India InfoSystems Pvt. Ltd. Giri has been the Chairman of CSIPune chapter for 2007-2008 and is also actively associated with other relevant industry forums like SPIN and MCCIA.

Despite having his hands full, professionals working with Giri will vouch for the energy, responsiveness and maturity that he brings forth to any activity.

For a full profile and links, see Giri’s profile on the PuneTech wiki.

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