L. Ashok – A Leading Technopreneur and A First-Generation Entrepreneur

Futurenet

When he first embarked on his career around 34 years ago, Ashok Lakshmichandran, MD, Futurenet Technologies (India) Pvt. Ltd., was primarily interested in biomedical engineering. But it was his fascination and proclivity for microprocessors, logic-driven computing, assembly language programming that motivated him to join the IT bandwagon. Following his passion for IT, L. Ashok began his journey as a technical support engineer even as personal computers were slowly making their way into the Indian market.

Now that he has spent more than three decades of his life in the industry, L. Ashok has successfully emerged as one of the leading technopreneurs in the IT space. Having encountered his own set of roadblocks, L. Ashok seems more determined and focused than ever, ready to take the IT industry in his stride.

Digitaltech Media had the opportunity to interact with Ashok Lakshmichandran, MD, Futurenet Technologies (India) Pvt. Ltd., where he shared about his journey into the industry and how he plans to scale his organization to the next level.

Excerpts from the interview:

How would you describe your over three decades of journey in the industry?

The past three decades of being a technopreneur have been a fascinating and ever-changing experience for me. Having started in a 700 Sqft office space, we provide 24×7 managed services to support customer mission-critical infrastructure today. We have an exclusive NOC and Data Center for hosting customer workloads. Our current focus is on enriching our existing expertise with value-added AI solutions.

Give us a background about yourself?

I’m an Electronics engineer from a humble family and a first-generation entrepreneur. The family line of government service work didn’t intrigue me, and I wanted to start a business right after college. I then founded Futurenet Technologies in 1996 as a customer-focused service provider.

What were some of the roadblocks you faced on your way to success?

There were a considerable number of roadblocks I had to overcome from the beginning. The first challenge came in the way of capital availability. Hailing from a humble family, it became difficult to raise capital for sustenance and growth. However, I am blessed and grateful to the right kind of people who came into my life at different stages of the company’s growth and guided me from time to time.

The second challenge was with hiring and retaining talents. When we were significantly small, people were hesitant to join. We needed to put in good HR practices, and following that, we were gradually able to attract talents.

The third challenge came in the form of signing customers for managed services. We had to employ several customer relationship-building strategies to build customers’ confidence in an up-and-coming business. We have been fortunate to survive as a Bootstrap model through several financial Tsunamis like the fall related to the 9/11 attack, the Great Recession in 2008, the Chennai floods in 2015, and recently the Covid-19 pandemic.

How has the pandemic impacted your business? What steps have you taken to overcome the challenges?

Like every other SME, we had a revenue drop in both projects and services. For the first time, I saw customers reducing contract value because they shut down due to the pandemic. Cost management without affecting employees’ salaries has been a saviour during this period.

Are you planning to launch any new product/solution into the market?

Before the pandemic struck, we started working on AI-based solutions, which we are currently working towards and expanding. Apart from this, we are scaling our audit solutions to help cost optimization for the customer and expanding its reach.

How do you differentiate yourself in the business? What has been your success mantra?

We are a 100% customer-focused organization with strong values, which has helped establish deep-rooted credibility in the market.  We find ways to enhance value to customer’s business and make their work easier with respect to IT. Our mix of innovative solutions and open-source help SME customers to optimize cost and enhance productivity.

How do you plan to grow/expand your organization from here? Where do you see yourself a year from now?

Managed services and technical support are essential whether we operate on-premises or over the cloud.  We will be enhancing our reach for managed services over the next eight quarters. This includes our audit framework, which increases business benefits. We will continue building strong practices in services that add value to customers’ businesses. In the next couple of years, we are looking to have strong growth in our area of operation through focused strategies.

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