Acknowledging the gaps in the IT Infrastructure Management training industry, ‘Ideaon THINK’ was conceptualised. The brand’s core focus areas reflect in THINK – Telecom, Hardware, Infrastructure, Network and Knowledge. In an interview Nagesh Srinivasgopal, CEO, Ideaon THINK, shares the entrepreneurial journey of the brand.
Abha Garyali (AG): Share the inception, growth and success of ‘Ideaon THINK’. How has been the entrepreneurial journey so far?
Nagesh Srinivasgopal (NS): I started the brand in 2002 in California, USA. At Ideaon, our offerings are mainly into e-learning; Software Application Development and Staff Augmentation. However, in India Ideaon THINK was formed in August 2004 and we started franchising in August 2008. During 2007, Shankar Krishna came aboard as Director – Professional Services and 50 per cent equity holder, who heads our USA operations and I moved back to Bangalore in India for business expansion.
Having understood the gaps in the IT Infrastructure Management training industry, we conceptualised the brand and the services that it will offer. We decided to niche our way into IT – Infrastructure: Computer Hardware and Networking, and have already established centres across India based on the franchise model. Ideaon THINK’s core focus areas reflect in THINK – Telecom, Hardware, Infrastructure, Network and Knowledge, and hence the name Ideaon THINK. The concept was ideated keeping in mind the booming hardware, networking and Telecom Industry.
AG: When and why did you take the franchise route for expansion of the brand?
NS: To cater to the young population of India which is equally distributed across the length and breadth of the country, we have set up training centres across India. The best way to go about establishing these centres is through franchising. The entrepreneurial culture is spreading and the first - generation entrepreneurs are going to be the biggest impetus for franchising. We started expanding our franchising business from the year 2008 and are looking to establish at least 100 centres of technical excellence in the next four years.
AG: Throw some light on the various challenges that you faced from other brands? What strategies have you employed for handling the competition?
NS: The IT-IMS industry is very huge in terms of opportunities, so more the number of players in a competitive scenario, the better we can market the industry as a whole. More than competition from within the industry, we are focusing on educating our target audience about the existence of an industry like IT-IMS which according to a 2010 Mckinsey-Nasscom study stands at over USD 524 Billion. We have implemented SCA Strategies (Sustainable Competitive Advantage) to successfully remain in the market as long as this industry exists. Our SCA’s are based on our assets and competencies and hence we are confident that these will help us remain a strong player in the market in the days to come.
AG: What is the USP of Ideaon THINK?
NS: We are very transparent in terms of what we offer to our target audience. Without compromise, we offer only the best in terms of the skills, curriculum, faculty expertise, infrastructure, placements, etc. We have multiple USP’s and can not single just one of them out.
AG: What are the qualities and the criterion for the selection of prospective franchisees? How much investment is required by them?
NS: We are inviting educated individuals looking at entrepreneurial opportunities in the education sector like ours. Other minimal requirements are:
AG: How many franchisees do you have in India and in which cities?
NS: We currently have eight centres in India, the latest addition being Gulbarga and one at Kammanahalli (Bangalore) in Karnataka.
AG: What are your future plans in terms of expansion through franchising? Where do you see the company after five years?
NS: Ideaon THINK is focusing to increase its presence across India in next four to five years by establishing 100 Techno-campuses that provide quality IT Hardware, Networking, Infrastructure and Managed IT Services training. Moreover, Ideaon THINK is in the process of signing MoUs with leading colleges, institutions, Corporate and government establishments to conduct IT Infrastructure Training.
AG: What are the challenges that can be faced by a franchisee in this business? How can they overcome these challenges?
NS: The supplementary education sector is crowded in India. The amount of differentiation a brand can make in terms of their service offerings is the major factor in entry while quality of delivery and branding leads to the growth and success of the brand. It is important for us to primarily increase awareness about the existence of the IT-IMS industry and its humongous growth potential. Once the need is created, it is only a matter of time for unraveling the best opportunities from this industry.