There have been few successful Indian bred general management consulting firms that have worked across 3 segments of GDP – Services, Manufacturing and Agriculture, have served 6 Fortune 500 companies (3 out of 6 being Fortune 100), have crossed the million dollar mark in revenues, have done projects in more than 25 countries and, have done it all, in less than 4 years. Knowledgefaber is one of them.
With a facts-based model and a unique focus on emerging economies, Amit Goel, an engineer and an MBA with a decade of experience in consulting, strategy, planning and research at organizations such as Boston Analytics, Daimler Chrysler and Frost & Sullivan, launched Knowledgefaber in 2008.
McKinsey, BCG, Bain –names like these have the capacity to scare newer players when it comes to this sector but Knowledgefaber stands undeterred. A number of things have made them successful and here are a few differentiators which have allowed them to achieve what they have:
1. Fact-based Consulting. “When a consultant, like McKinsey or BCG, which has 20 years of experience in some sector, goes to a client, he sees the problem and says, ‘Give me your company’s data, I’ll analyze it and since I’m very experienced so I know what’s happening in the market and based on that I have a hypothesis and based on that hypothesis, this is what the solution will look like.’ We hear from clients that a lot of times these hypotheses go wrong because today, the industry is very dynamic; experience doesn’t remain valid in every case. On the other hand, Knowledgefaber interviews the entire ecosystem for each project. So as an example, in the telecommunications sector, we interview the operators, the VAS players, the equipment players and also other experts. What we get is a very comprehensive, relevant, recent view of the ecosystem. And that’s fact-based,” says Amit.
Illustrating a case study, Amit says, “One of our clients is one of the largest engine manufacturers in the world in its category. It’s an Indian company so they are selling very well – in automotives, construction, etc. in India. The thing they were looking for is extensive global expansion. The question they asked is: There are more than 150-160 countries so where should we go? The problem was that of prioritization. Based on macroeconomics and other techniques, out of 150 countries, we narrowed it down to about 20-25 countries. Then we started looking into details of market size, growth (CAGR), profitability, entry barriers for new companies from outside the country, regulations, etc. Based on that, we were able to prioritize and select a group of countries where we thought they could foray. So we collected a lot of data on the ground, analyzed it, validated it with a couple of paid databases we have and then for each of these economies, we suggested which ones to choose and how to enter each. If you look at experience, nobody is experienced in 25 countries. When you go on a facts-based approach your horizon is unlimited.”
2. A strong network of key industry linkages in over 25 emerging economies. Having done studies in 40 countries, the Knowledgefaber team has managed to develop a strong database of key industry participants in each one of them. This, coupled with other techniques such as leveraging of social networks, participant databases, etc. has given them a sound base for the collection of appropriate data.
3. Consulting across sectors. “In India, what we find is that most domestic consulting firms focus on 1 or 2 sectors. Companies like Technopak, Universal and Zinnov focus on one or two sectors only. We, however, serve sectors across 3 segments of GDP – Services, Manufacturing and Agriculture,” says Sushil Rajpurohit, one of the senior partners at Knowledgefaber, based out of Mumbai.
With an elite clientele ranging from Honeywell, Greaves Cotton, Nestlé, A Fortune 500 IT/BPO/tech firm to LG, Investment banks, A Fortune 100 bank and others, Knowledgefaber seems to have come a long way. “We have clients with revenues from 7 million dollars to 7 Billion dollars to even 70+ billion dollars. The only way this is made possible is through the flexibility with which Knowledgefaber works with clients on scope, timelines and pricing. Each project being given personal care and attention by partners,” says Amit.
It is Amit’s sheer love for problem solving that motivates him to take up newer projects and explore different regions. Knowledgefaber has undertaken projects in China, India, Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Poland, Czech, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and 20 other countries. Even though existing insights and databases don’t exist in these countries, Knowledgefaber has been giving them due attention as the global investor and the business community has shown immense interest in them.
Knowledgefaber puts into use consulting concepts and frameworks such as SCQ analysis, growth consulting, 5D frameworks across the board along with customizing research and insights. The “Apple Art of Management” has been a great source of inspiration for Amit. “Apple way of working, Steve and Apple products, have inspired me a lot. They have taught me to hate mediocrity and focus on customer experience. Following the Apple way, we have a very high focus on quality. That’s why most clients who work with us are not only repeat customers, but also give us projects frequently and year after year,” says Amit.
Sushil Rajpurohit and David Watkins have been the two major partners in Amit’s entrepreneurial journey. Sushil handles the Manufacturing sector and is based out of Mumbai while David focuses on ICT and is active in Silicon Valley in the US.
Through his entrepreneurial journey, Amit has learnt a lot of things. One among those is the importance of tie ups and partnerships. “My strategy professor told me a decade ago, ‘Networks of companies can beat monoliths through tie ups’ and that taught me a lot,” he says.
What he also learnt is the art of optimizing his expenses. “If you’re a startup, my advice would be to not buy too much IT Infra. It comes for free as Guy Kawasaki said. There’s also ‘The Cloud’. We never had a mail server since the beginning in 2008 nor did we have a file server. The former was done through Google apps while the later by Dropbox. We used free CRM software, encouraged BYOD laptops, social networks for spreading the word, contacts in Media to get our articles published in national newspapers and magazines without really hiring a PR company,” says Amit, about his thoughts on optimal expenses.
What they did invest in though, is office infrastructure, talent compensation and benefits such as frequent project bonuses, Blackberries for employees, wifi printers, etc. “These, on the other hand, are really useful things. We’re a company who believes in people and keeping them happy is one of our top priorities,” he adds.
Going by their “build it, perfect it and then show it” philosophy, Knowledgefaber has gone robust with their marketing and can be seen on Social Media, attending conferences and getting their business featured on various newspapers and online media. “Also we are growing our team in a big way,” says Amit. With 20 employees currently, Knowledgefaber is hiring at 1-2 employee(s) per month. They look to build a solid team of at least 70-100 people.
- With inputs from Jubin Mehta and Shyamal Dave