Monday, March 10, 2008


My 4th stop on this trip was Gurgaon, India. And unfortunately for me, the effects of 9 days on the road finally took it's toll on my innards, so I spent most of my first day in my hotel room praying for recovery (or sometimes praying for a quick death). Fortunately my health and my mood started to recover on the second day and I could get down to the tasks at hand - namely, working with our Master Franchise to improve our operations in the country.

India is a challenging country because of it's dynamics. In the last decade India, and particularly Gurgaon, have become the "back office" for every major corporation in the world. Indians answer phones, prepare tax returns, and provide technical support, and the volume at which this transformation is occuring is staggering to see up close. Skylines are changing overnight, with at least a dozen large buildings (some larger than cruise ships) growing up from the ground within a mile or two of my hotel. The city is busy 24/7, and it's clear that the infrastructure is struggling to keep up. Traffic is terrible, power outages are very common (I experienced at least 20 in my 3-days here), and it's clear that roads and sewers and amenities in general have a long way to go.

India has been a challenge for Computer Troubleshooters as well, and while our traditional "break/fix" model has some limited success here, newer models like BEST simply aren't working yet. The key is India's low but changing labor costs, and the effect this has on our target customers. Technicians can be hired full-time for around $150 USD per month, so many larger small businesses just hire their own. Smaller businesses frequently take advantage of the AMC or Annual Maintenance Contract offered by their PC seller for a few hundred rupees, which is often interpreted as unlimited onsite PC support for any issue (even though it's not specified that way). But things are changing.... IT salaries are increasing 15% per year on average in India, so the traditionally low labor rates of the past may not last much longer.

During my stay I was able to interview our Master Franchise, Vikram Chopra, and meet some of his own technical team in New Delhi. I also met with several other current and former IT business owners to get their perspective over what works and what doesn't work in this marketplace. We also met Ajay Budhiraja and Vinish Kathuria of BuyBizSellBiz (an Indian affiliate of our sister-brand Sunbelt Business Brokers). Using their information and advice Vikram and I sketched together a new variation of our BEST plan which takes advantage of the parameters of the Indian marketplace to provide better benefit to CT and to our small business customers. I'm very excited to see that new model go through the R&D stages over the next few weeks!

pictured: Myself, Vinish, Vikram, Ajay

Next Stop: Malaysia!

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