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Jan, 06 2016

How a former engineer amassed an empire of over 150 IIHT centres worldwide

Bangalore-based IIHT Ltd is a pioneering initiative of first generation entrepreneur Keshava Raju, who established IIHT way back in 1993.

Let’s read on to know the inspiring story of a qualified engineer who entered the world of business with the launch of his technology training institute and is now known as one of the czars in this category in India and global markets.

Industry research reports

Currently, the market for vocational training is estimated at INR 90 billion and the same is estimated to grow with a CAGRof 25%.

Government has set a target of preparing 500 million skilled workers by 2022, as around 75-80 million jobs will be created over the next 5 years and 75% of them will require vocational training.

According to KPMG India estimates,there is scope for franchising industry to contribute almost 4% of India GDP in 2017, growing from a current estimated contribution of 1.4% of GDP. This is also expected to create job opportunities (including both direct and indirect) for an additional 11 million people by 2017.

IT has gone beyond codes.ITES has gone beyond calls. As the world is heading towards digital transformation, IIHT is the only pan India player that offers IT-IMS & SMAC (Social, Mobility, Analytics & Cloud) skill programmes.

“It today embraces every industry and hence there is an exponential increase in it roles and jobs. this trend will only intensify going further since adoption of it will only keep increasing exponentially,” Keshava Raju, Founder & CEO, IIHT Ltd.


Creating revolution in talent transformation industry

In an interaction, Keshava Raju, Founder & CEO, IIHT Ltd & Sundeep MV, CMO, IIHT Ltd shares with Amanpreet Kaur about their views on creating employment opportunities for individuals and tapping franchisees to have a robust expansion in India and abroad.

What are the emerging trends that will create an impetus for the IT training business?

Keshava Raju: There is a clear delinking of revenue growth and recruitment. This contrasts with the hiring pattern of the last decade, which had mirrored revenue growth in the industry. The paradigm shift will get entrenched as IT services vendors toil to increase profitability in an environment where changing trends are forcing their clients to optimise overheads and consolidate margins. On their part, vendors are countering the situation by rationalising their bench strength, improving utilisation and reducing operational costs.

Now, this has created a huge demand for job-ready resources. Campus recruitments have declined since there is an acute shortage of job-ready candidates. More non-engineering graduates are being considered for IT roles, which has created an even battlefield for all graduates wherein the only criterion is 'skill for the job role'. With a pool of 6 million students graduating from the education system every year in India and the massive demand for skilled IT resources, the opportunity in IT skills training is fairly self-explanatory.

While IT as an industry has seen ups and downs over the years, what would you ascribe the steady success of IIHT to?

Keshava Raju: While a lot can be ascribed to ICT penetration, culture that promotes education, an academic eco-system that does not ensure job-readiness, increasing disposable income across market segments, the real reason would be the unflinching commitment of every franchisee towards IIHT brand and their belief in the value of this business. The collective success stories of IIHT Alumni, who are today placed in enviable positions and of IIHT Partners across India who have emboldened us with their camaraderie is our true success story.

As the leading IT training solution providers in the country, where do you see your brand's growth five years down the line?

Sundeep MV: We see ourselves further extending our leadership position as an indispensable partner to the supply and demand side of talent acquisition function.

At a macro level, what has led the changes in the IT industry?

Sundeep MV: While there are many influencing factors, the undisputed singular factor has been the consumerisation of IT. The consumer today decides on what the market needs to provide. Consumer behaviours and preferences are paving the way for further innovation. At long last, the consumer is at the centre of the IT universe and everything else is being built around in accordance.

Looking at the current trends in skills development sector, Information technology (IT) sector is continually creating a revolution in India. And to meet the demand to establish a platform that transforms the talent of individuals and thereby making them relevant to job roles, IIHT Ltd was set up to create employment opportunities. Looking at the growing demand from all the corners of the country, IIHT collaborated with franchisees to have a wider footprint to seamlessly deliver career building IT training solutions to the aspirants, professionals, corporate and global organisations.

From starting one centre in 1993, IIHT today has over 150 centresworldwide. It is known for providing hardware & networking, database management, security and storage management training services. Enlightening about the inspiration behind the launch of IIHT, Keshava Raju reveals, “IT was slowly gaining ground and IT as an industry was at an extremely nascent stage. It was obvious that IT would change the world and our lives. At that point of time, it just made sense to embrace the next big thing. However, the way that the industry has been shaping up, it makes even more sense today. IT has been 'the big thing' all through.”

“Having spent 20 years in the IIHT eco-system, it is fascinating that IIHT has remained contemporary every day till date. The tenure of our association itself substantiates and validates the strong franchisee support system,” says Ravish, IIHT franchisee since 1995.

Franchisee team @ IIHT

Daljinder Singh, Channel Expansion, INDIA

“Investors are looking for a tried, tested and trusted model. That's why IIHT business holds relevance.”

Kartik Atri, Channel Expansion, NORTH

“Employers need skilled manpower. The candidates need jobs. Connecting them is the obvious IIHT opportunity.”

Lakshmeesha Yadav, Channel Expansion, SOUTH

“Apart from commercial gratification, an IIHT business opportunity comes with the satisfaction of changing lives for the better.”

Debaashish Roy, Channel Expansion, EAST

“More demand and less supply of quality talent. This simple equation is what makes IIHT franchise opportunity highly favourable for all stakeholders.”


Operational since: 1993

Existing centres: 150 worldwide

Investment: Depends on location

Area: 1, 000 sq.ft upwards

Expected breakeven: 6 months

Target cities for expansion:

Tier I and II cities

Partners in growth

To have a robust expansion pan-India, a strategic plan has to be in place to accomplish the target growth which can be achieved only by partnering with the right franchisee. Adding about the type of a franchisee they are looking for, Sundeep MV, Chief Marketing Officer, IIHT says, “We are looking for entrepreneurs who have perseverance and commitment towards business. While it is not necessary to come from an education or training background, it is essential to understand the essence of this business. We are seeking people who share our vision and are willing to invest their efforts towards a combined purpose.”

To be successful in business growth, the brand provides operational as well as set-up support to their franchisees. Along with that, a marketing support is offered. At IIHT 100% of the target audience is online. The online marketing is centralised at corporate office. Lead Generation campaigns are carried out for all franchisees. Partners are also given a robust lead management system to view, nurture and manage leads. Collaborative advertising programmes are developed and deployed.

Strategy for expansion

As per the report by KPMG, IT training (vocational programs) constitutes the largest size of the education industry through franchising. On concluding about the industry's outlook, Keshava Raju says, “The next IT wave is here. IT has gone beyond codes. Information Technology Enabled Service (ITES) has gone beyond calls. The world is univocally speaking one language i.e. digital transformation. While the implications of this have already reshaped the world, as we know it, we have only skimmed the surface considering the vast potential of this phenomenon. Massive growth plans of corporate will further increase the already exploding skill demand. This effectively translates into amazing opportunities for fresher recruitments, if they have acquired, developed and honed job-specific skills. Specialisation can be sought only through vocational training since the academic system does not ensure it.”

To ensure a healthy reach, the brand is aggressively looking for expansion pan India. Enlightening about their target plans, Keshava Raju says, “There has been a steady increase month-on-month with respect to franchisee additions. The digital India, smart cities and other initiatives will drive the demand further for IT professionals across the nation even in tier II & tier III cities. While primary focus is on enrolling franchisee-owned franchisee-operated (FOFO) centres, we are extending the option of FOCO based on investor need or specific demand.”

With a vision to outshine as a global leader in providing seamless IT training solutions and services, IIHT looks at creating avenues of employment for students and this can be achieved only by teaming up with franchisees in Pan India.

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