Leveraging the Gray Cells- Success Story of Kshitij Kotak

Mumbai -based Kshitij Kotak has developed an indigenous storage device.

Born in a Gujarati family of highly educated professionals Kshitij M. Kotak, CEO Fortune Grecells Pvt Ltd, Mumbai had a classic middle class upbringing despite being born with the proverbial silver spoon. After schooling, and subsequently going through cultural shock of St. Xavier’s College (for a Gujarati) followed by a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Computers with a lot of dithering ‘to B.E. or not to B.E.’,  he was pleasantly shocked (not surprised) when his  final year project, English Language understanding by computers was sent for publication by his professor to the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his uniquely developed Artificial Intelligence algorithm on recommendation of the then authority on subject, Professor Raphael. His innovative streak had been recognized for the first time in 1991.

Early days

Despite stellar project credentials and recommendations, he did not get a job at the reputed software companies – they rejected his grades.

“In India it matters more to rote learn and vomit ad verbatim on answer sheets than write an innovative software that enables people use computers in MSDOS”, he mocks the education system, “I was good at understanding, analysis and application, not at rote learn. Probably examiners were not good at understanding beyond model answer sheets”, Kshitij M. Kotak expressed.

He started as hardware engineer in a small firm, still not sure if that was more out of lure of quick money or rebellion out of frustration. He was the only graduate engineer at the first three firms he worked at before being picked up by Zenith Computers Limited.

“Working at Zenith I completed first level computerization at The Reserve bank of India amidst stiff opposition from Workers’ Union and threats of physical harm. I remember walking into union office at RBI to negotiate with a senior union leader to allow our team to install their first 315 computers walking out after 50 minutes with a smiling lot of union members. I had convinced them that they would have to work less and can also play pac-man and space invaders in their free time” he added.

He got immediate salary hike for smooth implementation at RBI but could not enjoy the increment for a long as he had to quit Zenith for personal reasons.

About His Company

Fortune Grecells Private Limited is a professionally managed IT infrastructure system integrator with qualified management and technical team of over 20 well trained and certified professionals. They have won several accolades for over 2 decades implementing data protection and business continuity solutions.

“Our product BLACKBOX DATA SAFE has won 6 awards in less than 2 years including the prestigious DQ Channels ‘Make In India’ solution champ award in 2016” Kshitij expressed.

Focused on data safety, security, servers and firewalls, Fortune Grecells has been implementing BLACKBOX Linux servers since 1996. Atul Chitnis, head at Cyber Media Labs helped us build first Linux file server in 1996 from PCQ Linux 2.0 (?) of PCQuest magazine, a sister publication of DataQuest.

Having named the product BLACKBOX after aircraft black box that keeps flight data safe, company also wanted to make it look like BLACKBOX – in those days there were no black computer cabinets – only white. He would carry computer cabinets to a decorative wall-piece manufacturing factory and get them painted black.

“BLACKBOX, our flagship zero cost server software and backup is license free for unlimited number of users. With 300+ implementations since 1997 across the country to ensure servers keep running, data is protected and for disaster recovery even in the times of 64Kbps internet speeds, BLACKBOX DATA SAFE is a viable alternative to traditional server software that runs on frugal hardware and needs no server software license and a license (CAL) for every user on the network”, he added.

How did he get into entrepreneurship?

According to Kshitij, he was forced into entrepreneurship. “I left Zenith in 1994 as my father had suffered severe health episode and a 9 to 5 job was impossible as I had to be by his side. I had no option but to be an entrepreneur. With computer hardware and services being immensely profitable and my stint at Zenith a tremendous learning experience, we started off with computer services and later setup computer assembly unit on the outskirts of Mumbai”, he shared.

Services business was profitable but Fortune Grecells suffered huge losses in PC assembling business. Being firm on ethics, Kshitij neither evaded Excise, nor indulged in unscrupulous business practices. “I could never entertain corrupt government officials for concessions and approvals”.

The only thing that kept Fortune Grecells floating was BLACKBOX, their Linux servers and data recovery services. A huge learning: Data is indispensable.

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