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Awesome Foursome

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DQC News Bureau
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Ambition is something that can break chains and drive one towards success. It

was ambition that brought together Mahesh Kumar, Prashant Behl, Naveen Nagpal

and Jalaluddin Kokan, who formed Infonet Solutions. It has been 12 long years of

hard work that has seen the four continuing the journey as promoters of their

company without losing focus from their one target: scaling Infonet to greater

heights and establishing it as one of the leading technology companies in the

country.

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The quartet started their business in 1996, when the IT boom had just begun.

While Behl and Kokan were childhood friends, Nagpal was a senior in college and

Kumar was Kokan's colleague at CMS Computers. Kokan and Nagpal studied

electrical and electronics engineering respectively, Kumar was an instrumental

engineer and Behl was a computer science engineeringing major with a keen

interest in technology. Banking on their strength of technical knowledge in the

structured cabling area, the quartet started their business in Behl's home.

Initially, the company provided structured cabling solutions and their primary

success was helped by the fact that at this time the industry lacked solution

providers who could provide end-to-end services in this particular area of

business expertise.

Slow and steady growth



The company began in the dining room of Behl's home and was later relocated

to his father's office. While, Kokan and Kumar were first gene­ration

entrepreneurs, Behl's family had a sports business and Nagpal hailed from a

chemicals business family. Behl and Nagpal's business acumen, which they had

acquired from their families helped the company to a huge extent, especially in





terms of knowledge legalities, registration, the other complexities involved at
the time of starting.

Although Infonet was lucky in terms of getting big orders due to their sound

technical knowledge, the company upgraded their skills on a regular basis to

attain more business. The foursome believe that providing strong technology

solutions to their client quickly has been the USP of the company. Setting up

their own office space had been a huge moral booster for them. They pride

themselves on the fact that they have retained every single customer till now by

providing cutting-edge techn­ology solutions

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Partners of

Infonet: Jalaluddin Kokan, Prashant Behl, and Naveen

The triumph of value business



The company focuses on value business rather than in-volume business and the

foursome has not been attracted towards it despite several offers from vendors.

Despite the fact that acquiring of projects has been slow, they feel that they

are growing steadily. “There were few alluring offers to venture into run rate

business, however we have been very clear about our intention of only dealing

with value business, as we have complete confidence in our technical ability and

have been quite content with what we have been doing for years. Few feel that

economically the volume business is better and they point out that transactions

would be slow in project-based business but it is definitely more reliable,”

claimed Kokan.

Similarly, certain decisions that the quartet had taken paid off well. The

alliance with HP was one such positive gamble for the company, where they have

been unipolar with only offering HP solutions and have no other tie-ups.

However, the company does have a partnership with Cisco for active networking

compo­nents, Molex for passive networking components and few solutions with

Nortel, APC, VMware and Panduit. “First of all we need to have confidence in the

product with which we are dealing and only then we can convince others to

believe in it. HP has been the best for us and the partnership has been fruitful

for the company's growth,” Kokan added.

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There have been lots of offers from other vendors for potential partnerships

with the company that could have well been profitable, but Infonet has strongly

remained faithful to HP by saying no to all of them. But the rejection to these

alliances hasn't slowed down the growth of the company and their technical

abilities. Infonet has been the first company in India to partner with HP for

VDI with mobile thin clients as well as successfully implementing huge projects

in this product.

Rocky roads



It hasn't always been smooth sailing for Infonet after their initial project

successes. When the dotcom bubble burst in 1999 there were investments from the

IT companies and the industry completely nosedived. Infonet suffered a huge

setback and there was no business for 12 to 18 months. “We realized that there

were more things that we needed to learn other than just making money. Building

a strong team is a difficult task and managing it is tougher. We had to keep

giving salaries to our employees to prevent the team from collapsing,” Kokan

reminisced

The four entrepreneurs had to usher in more personal resources and assets to

safeguard the business and its employees. “We took the challenge and came out

with flying colors. We had to strive hard for the customer's acceptance. Slowly,

the situation also started to improve and the rest is history,” he asserted.

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The promoters never forget to thank “Global Reality”, the company that gave

them a second breakthrough during their lowest point.

The power of unity



Generally when there are many people in the management of a company with

equal powers, too many thoughts crop up and decision making gets tough.

For Infonet, however, this has not been the case even though there would be

long deliberations, as people here believe in each other more than themselves.

“For every decision the company takes, there would be huge amount of

deliberations among us. Strategic decisions like remaining unipolar has been a

hugely debated topic. But the confidence that we have on each other triumphs all

and we accept it if someone makes a valid point, whoever has made it. This has

been a great strength for the company,” claimed Kokan.

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Although there is no formal power sharing agreement among the four, each

takes care of a different portfolio. Behl takes care of the implementation of

technology and the service part of it; Kokan handles the financial part of the

company; Nagpal is in-charge of the general administration and Kumar is

responsible for promotional activities of the company. Each is well-versed with

the other's responsibility and helps the other out when the situation demands

it.

Despite the work pressures, the quartet makes it a point to meet for lunch

everyday at the office and they have been following this ritual religiously for

the past 12 years. This unity is the success mantra of Infonet

The future bright



The quartet constantly tries to understand and research into new

technologies to add to their offerings and increase customer satisfaction as

much as possible. Infonet has clocked a turnover of Rs 65 crore in the financial

year 2007-08. “We are already working as consultants for large corporates and we

are leaders in implementing technology. In the next five years we are confident

that we would be one of the leading technology providers in the country and we

would like to provide technology derivatives, high-end data center solutions. We

would also like to branch out to every metro in the country,” Kokan added

confidently.

NR Sethuraman



sethuramannr@cybermedia.co.in

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