When he first entered the IT industry in 1990, Alok Gupta of Unistal Systems joined Nashsoft Systems, an anti-virus software distributing company, as the sales & support executive. In his role, he was responsible for marketing its anti-virus software while also heading seven of its branches across India.
During his three and a half years stint at Bangalore-based Nashsoft, he rose to the position of country manager, helping the company achieve a market share of close to 94%. But Gupta was quick to realize that his calling lay elsewhere, and so he quit the company to venture into the world of entrepreneurship.
That led to the birth of Unistal Systems Pvt. Ltd.- a leading IT company that develops and offers data security and data recovery software & applications with as many as 5,000,000 user licenses globally in over 35 countries. Today, Unistal Systems serves over 12 million clients across varied verticals, such as IT, Government, Infrastructure, Telecom, Power and Oil, Gas & Utilities industry.
A firm believer of hard work, Gupta thinks there is no substitution or shortcut to hard labor or backbreaking work required to fulfill your dreams or ambition. ‘If you want real success, then be prepared for all that grinding and donkeywork that goes into it,” he adds.
Digitaltech Media had the opportunity to interact with Alok Gupta, Managing Director, Unistal Systems Pvt. Ltd., where he revealed much about his journey so far and plans for steering the company to the next level.
Continue reading further.
What inspired you to join the IT industry?
I joined the IT industry in 1990 after passing my Bachelor of Engineering (Computer Science). After college, I joined Nashsoft Systems, an anti-virus software providing company, as the sales & support executive. During my three and a half years stint at the company, I rose to the position of country manager while helping the company establish a strong footprint in the market, taking their total market share to almost 94%. In 1994, I resigned from the company to set up Unistal Systems with another colleague (Pankaj Mathur), and that’s how Unistal came into existence.
How would you describe your 27 years old journey?
When we established Unistal in 1994, we had little business experience and total investment capital of Rs 2500. We began selling data recovery software from Stellar-a global provider of data recovery software. We later asked the company to develop exclusive anti-virus software products for Unistal, and that’s how Unistal Anti-virus was launched into the market. The PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) was one of our first customers, and we continue to provide them with best-in-class data recovery solutions to date.
Please elaborate more about your journey and way forward.
Until we came into the picture, Stellar may have sold only 50 odd boxes of its data recovery software in India, but we helped Stellar become a known brand in the data recovery space. However, in 1999, we split the company, and I started focusing on the development of Unistal anti-virus and thus became the legal distributor for Unistal anti-virus software. I even introduced brands like Kaspersky in India. We later stopped business for the company and instead started selling Bitdefender products in India. At the end of 2010, we tied up with Bitdefender to bundle their product with another product called Protegent. Today, we have developed some 51 products in data, security, data recovery, and anti-virus software categories while establishing partnerships with brands like HP, Dell, HCL, Samsung, Samsung, and several others.
Why did you decide in favor of diversifying the company?
In 2004, we had diversified our company to sell a solution called PCMS (Pipeline Construction Management Solution). It is meant for the oil& gas sector and offers end-to-end project management solutions. We later developed another solution-SmartGasNet Solution, to cater to City Gas Distribution companies like IGL. Today, we are working with leading companies in the oil & gas sector such as IGL, HPCL, ONGC, Adani, Petronas, GAIL, Indian Oil & more. We have developed more than 100 projects for companies in India, Middle East, Saudi, Oman, and UAE region.
Today 80% of the pipeline companies in India have used our PCMS solutions. We also launched a separate company called IndiaIT 360 after the pandemic hit the world. IndiaIT 360 offers a unified platform for B2b, B2c, and OEM partners, allowing them to integrate all their products, resources, and services, eventually fulfilling their business requirements.
What challenges did you encounter on your way to success?
When we started our entrepreneurial journey, I realized that the partner network was small. Despite being business owners, we did plenty of cold calling and visited customers to sell anti-virus products on our own. Around the same time in 1998, CIH Virus also referred to as the Chernobyl virus, had emerged and caused many hard drives to crash in India. During the same time, we carried out more than 3000 data recovery for clients that helped us sustain our business for another two years.
The next challenge came in 2010 when we were enjoying good online sales for our quick data recovery software. All the data recovery companies in India and Asia were blacklisted by Google all of a sudden. Following this, our sales came down by 98%. During the same time, we witnessed that business from one of our verticals (Oil & Gas) had slowed down. But we soon bounced back and secured an order from GAIL that helped us reach a strong position.
What is your take on the current data security/threat industry?
The biggest threat to the data security industry is from the inside rather than outside. It is bound to grow because every organization knows that data security is critical. For us, out of the 35% of our total IT spend, 23% goes into data security. The data security market will grow year on year as a lot of R&D is going into it.
How are you planning to grow the company?
We have developed an HRMS solution called the HRMmitra SaaS software that enables organizations to automate the entire life-cycle of employees from on-boarding, payroll management to exit. Apart from this, we are implementing SAP and other ERP solutions for the oil and gas sector. We have also developed products for the water & city gas companies and see a great deal of potential in this sector. Despite the pandemic, we grew by 15% last year. This year we are targeting a growth of 30% with our order booking being more than 100%.
How do you differentiate yourself in the IT business?
I firmly believe that any business owner should focus on doing something uncommon. When we started data recovery and anti-virus no other company was in that space. However, today there are many companies while we continue to be the masters. We have always focused on working in niche markets. Once I feel it has become too crowded, I shift my focus to other sectors and solutions.