Born in Mumbai, Vinod Kumar acquired his first degree at Mesra, Jharkhand when he graduated from Birla Institute of Technology with a specialization in Electronics & Communication. Subsequently, he completed his Master’s in Marketing Management from Jamnalal Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai, and a CFA from the Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of India, Hyderabad.
Today, Vinod takes great pride in his company – Satcom Infotech, one of the widely acclaimed VAD (Value-Added Distribution) organizations in the country. From having no established vendor to work with to scour for vendors and solutions unheard of in the market, his journey has been a fascinating ride of relentless focus, grit, persistence, and perseverance.
He firmly believes that entrepreneurship is also about keeping one’s commitment simple and approach humane. This unique way of thinking has allowed Vinod, the Managing Director and Founder of Satcom Infotech, to conquer greater heights as he continues to dominate the space through carefully planned and well-executed strategies.
In a recent chat with Digitaltech Media, he bared his heart and also talked about the existing opportunities in the VAD market in India.
Read the edited excerpts below.
How do you view your journey at Satcom Infotech?
I had amassed around 15 years of work experience in the corporate, especially in direct sales, sales management, and product management. My background has always been in high-frequency electronics, which naturally led to the early focus of Satcom on meeting the specific needs of aerospace and defense companies.
I took a plunge of faith in 2003, when I first entered the IT industry with Satcom Infotech. Initially, the going was tough, for there was neither any legacy in terms of customers, business, or solutions nor people. Everything was built from scratch. None of the established vendors wanted to work with us since we were the new entrants. It left us with no option but to scour for vendors and solutions hitherto unheard of in the Indian market.
Let’s talk about the challenges you encountered on the path to success. How did you overcome them?
What was even more difficult was to take the next step, i.e., find the right people with the right experience to work with. We eventually settled on recruiting fresh faces and trained them to suit our requirements.
We finally positioned ourselves as a distributor with several specialized security solutions. But – a distributor is only as good as the partners, who run the last mile and reach the end user. Finding a partner who would be willing to work with a new product and a new distributor was quite like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.
All the while, we deftly modulated our positioning-getting involved with partners and customers. We concentrated on product positioning, proof of concept, implementation, and post-sales support. This helped us find more OEMs who wished to sign us and partners willing to work with us. Our business kept growing slowly and steadily, and today, Satcom specializes in offering Cybersecurity solutions and has earned the reputation of a trusted Value-Added Distributor.
What is your take on IT Value Added Distribution Business/Market in India? How does Satcom Infotech plan to grow & expand its channel network, presence, and business in the region?
Plenty of figures suggest the potential of the Indian IT industry, but whichever way you look at it, it is more than 100 billion USD and growing at a double-digit figure YOY. Technology is updated daily, threats increase every hour, and solutions get more complex — making the decision-making process difficult for the end user.
This is where a trusted partner comes in as a consultant to the customer, advising on which solution will be more suitable in their particular environment. A value-added distributor (VAD), with their specialized expertise and product knowledge, can work with the partner and vendor to stitch the solution. I would say that the space for VADs in our industry is huge, with only a handful of players in this country.
Today, we are uniquely poised to achieve both organic as well as inorganic growth. Most of the solutions we carry are sufficiently niche, and it therefore takes time for these to contribute towards our revenues. Simultaneously, we are expanding our reach by increasing our presence in new geographies. Today, we have offices and personnel in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Kolkata, Coimbatore, and Cochin — and the list is only growing.
What do you feel has been your success mantra? What sets you apart from other VADs in the country?
Our success mantra has always been persistence and perseverance. Be it with people internally, or partners, or OEMs. I am proud to say that not once did we give up.
I believe Satcom Infotech will achieve far greater heights in the years to come than what has been previously scaled. One of our biggest successes is, in fact, talent retention. The average tenure of our employees is in double digits. My focus, however, will be on improving the qualitative aspects of our functioning rather than just the quantitative ones.
What sets us apart from the industry is our primary (and comprehensive) focus on Cybersecurity, exclusively catering to the Indian market, working only with complementary vendors, etc. The fact that we are comparatively smaller makes us incredibly agile when it comes to the needs of both the OEMs and the partners. We work with limited partners, which gives us the bandwidth to do more sales enablement, technical certification of partners, and be highly involved in the pre-sale activities.
What are your aspirations in life?
I would like to spend more time catching up on my reading, writing, music learning, and achieving fitness goals. I also wish to contribute to the education of the less privileged.
A piece of advice you would give to aspiring entrepreneurs in the tech industry?
My advice for any budding entrepreneur is invariably to focus on simplicity and humanity. Whether technologically evolved or not, as a business owner, you must have a finger on the pulse of the human being you interact with and value the time and effort they put into your business, whether as a supplier, a customer, or an employee. Leave the mundane aspects of dealing with systems, procedures, rules, regulations, and SOPs to the more deserving people within your organization, and yes — leave it to the CRMs and SAPs of the world.
An entrepreneur has his/her heart in the business, while others are hired for their intellect. So, use that heart lavishly, connect with people, and always know that genuine growth only comes from all parties winning, never alone.
The best investment an entrepreneur can ever aspire for is to get an emotional investment of people in your business. Secondly, as a leader, it is incumbent upon you to set the tone for your organization. It is here where keeping things simple from the beginning goes a long way in facilitating the outside world to interact with your company. Keep your commitments simple so that it is easier for you to stand by them.