About Me

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Mumbai, India
I run an IT Security consulting firm based out of India. We started off from scratch in 2001 when I was 21, and have offices in Mumbai, Bahrain, and UAE. The idea behind the blog is to share the stories of how we run the business, the deals we make, the deals that break, the heartburn, and the sheer joy.

The Ultimate Startup Guide

The Ultimate Startup Guide is an e-book that provides answers to all your questions related to starting and growing a business in India. Everything you wanted to know about entrepreneurship in India from ideation to registration to marketing to hiring. The book contains a large number of practical examples, anecdotes, interviews, and motivational material to help you get started, and to grow rapidly in a booming Indian economy. If you've got the idea, this book will help you through with the execution and realize your dreams. Here are some of the key questions you will find answered in this book:
  • When starting a business, what are the legal issues involved?
  • What form of incorporation is better suited to which type of business?
  • What tax issues are involved?
  • How do I start a business and what are the pitfalls?
  • How do I market my business in the absence of significant funding?
  • How do I get funded?
  • What are the basic accounting concepts I should be aware of?
  • What is a business plan and how should I build one?
The brief table of contents of the book is as follows:
  1. Getting started
  2. Ideation
  3. Forms of Enterprises
  4. Funding
  5. Basic Accounting and Taxation
  6. Import and Export Licensing
  7. Trademark and Patenting
  8. Rules for NRIs and Foreigners
  9. Building a Business Plan
  10. Marketing on a Shoestring
  11. Website and Branding
  12. Women Entrepreneurs
  13. Templates
To order the Ultimate Startup Guide - email me at kkmookhey@gmail.com.

Details of the book are:
Title: The Ultimate Startup Guide
Author: Kanwal Mookhey
Pages: 150
Additional: Companion CD contains numerous templates for building your business plan, calculating cashflow, preparing profit and loss, and balance sheets, preparing invoices, your resume and profile, marketing material, websites, contracts, and many other useful and motivational material.

Friday, April 18, 2008

How I got my first 5 clients

Someone suggested that I should write a post about how to market a consulting service. While I have a post on the subject, the reader also suggested that I could write about how I got my first five clients. As you might guess, most of these project wins were due to luck rather than any marketing skills from my end. In fact, our first marketing person came on board only after 3-4 years of being in business.

  1. Client #1 - State Bank of India. Sitting around in office, we asked ourselves (there were only 2 of us), who needs our services most. The answer was banks. Who's the biggest bank in town - the State Bank of India. So we went to the SBI website, found a link to their organizational chart, found out the number of their chief manager - IT, called him up, and went to meet him. We explained that we could do a penetration test - an attempt to break into his site after receiving proper authorization from him. He was convinced, we sat down to negotiate the price, and within a month we had our first order.
  2. Client #2 - Western Railways. A friend of my father's heard about my venture, came to meet me, introduced me to the head of IT at HPCL who was a friend of his, who in turn introduced me to head of IT at Western Railways, and we did a free penetration test for him. Later on, he gave us the contract to fix the vulnerabilities.
  3. Client #3 - a US security firm. An elderly gentleman from the office next door to ours used to drop by to chat away, since neither he nor I had much work back then. On his 3rd or 4th visit he actually asked me what I did. I tried to explain to him in layman's language that I was running a computer security consulting firm. He excitedly explained his own know-how on the subject, which was surprisingly good. He then told me that his nephew was in the same business, but in the US. And this gentleman in turn was running a leading-edge security product company. I dropped him an email, his India partner contacted me, and then put me in touch with a leading Chartered Accountant who was doing accounts audits for a number of large firms in India. These firms were approaching him to do IT audits as well. These he started to outsource to me, and we still do excellent business with him. Later on the US company also outsourced security research work to us.
  4. Client #4 - Directorate General of Shipping. The head of IT at Western Railways was a good friend of the head of the Directorate General of Shipping. When the DG Shipping person spoke with the WR person about an IT problem he was facing, he recommended my name.
  5. Client #5 - Middle East partner. In our free time, we used to keep ourselves busy developing free tools, writing articles, and trying to get speaking engagements at various seminars and conferences. All these activities resulted in increasing our visibility and enhancing our brand image. It also helped enhance our individual consulting profiles. A security solutions company from the Middle East contacted us for selling them one of the tools we had built. We explained that the tool was free, but they wanted us to make modifications to it, and asked us to price the effort. That specific deal never went through, but slowly they started outsourcing various security engagements to us, until the Middle East became our largest source of projects.
So to summarize, some of the things that a fledgling consulting firm could do is focus on:
  • Use references, contacts, and word-of-mouth as much as you can. I still evangelize my products and services shamelessly at every opportunity. But there is a way to do it
  • Search engine optimization
  • Writing articles, toolkits, and maybe even books on the subject
  • Contacting the larger consulting firms in your space so they may throw some projects your way
  • Hold free workshops for people who might be interested in the subject

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The art of the bounce back

We all talk about the fact that winners never quit, and quitters never win, etc. But here's a very nice article that talks about the fact that most high-achievers in life usually fail often, and fall harder than most of us. But then they also succeed far more spectacularly. So I guess it is about taking calculated risks and sticking with your ideas if you really believe in them.

The article talks about Steve Jobs who was unceremoniously kicked out of Apple, and then was brought back in to script one of the greatest turnaround stories in corporate history. Not to mention his amazing success with Pixar animation, and of course the iPod and iTunes and iPhone innovations. It also talks about Donald Trump (read his Art of the Deal) for someone who went completely bankrupt and then rose back again to become a multi-billionaire.

Then again you should not be one of those people who stick with an idea even though it has no chance of working. Here's the irrepressible Seth Godin in "The Dip - a little book that teaches you when to quit".