Life Story & Exclusive Interview – Chandan Ghosh

chandan
A simple man, unassuming, a family man, a leader, a mentor! Chandan Ghosh clearly believes that he has achieved everything due to the support of some greater force that has helped him all through his life, calling himself blessed, hence, spends all his time amongst people training, guiding & mentoring them!

Born in Bulsar (today Valsad) a small town of Gujarat & brought up in Mumbai where he lived his formative years & completed his schooling and college in Bombay! He started his career at a raw age of 20 after his Electrical Engineering.

Hailed from a modest background, son of a Doctor working in the railways and mother a homemaker who spent her life grooming her children, Chandan grew up with 3 other siblings! Chandan currently lives in Gurgaon with his family, his wife, Somali Ghosh who has been his biggest support for the past 30 years, his son Pranab married recently to Ankita.

Pranab has taken full charge of the new startup enterprise which was started by Chandan with meagre resources in 2014 and the same enterprise has reached a gross turnover of INR 5 crores per month and still growing!

Chandan has worked his way up to senior leadership level over 37 years in various companies in the leading edge of innovative technology all his life!

Chandan was a confirmed non businessman, he believed if he could live as well being an employee as any businessman (entrepreneur) why should he take all the stress and trouble of becoming one! However, in 2012 when he was 54 years, one silent solitary afternoon he realised that, all that he had learned over the years would go a waste, if he retired at the age of 58, which is the trend and rule! Then he decided to venture to become an entrepreneur!

He announced his plans, raised fund by selling some of his properties, 2 of his most dependable deputies who were with him, loyal for past 12 years came forward and offered to join him and Chandan most gratefully offered them equal stake in the business as they were young and would be hard working and help him take the venture forward! However, this was the seed of his first lesson on entrepreneurship “Trust No One” keep relationships strictly business! These 2 gentlemen duped him, cheated him & took off with the entire corpus of the business of INR 4.5 crores!

Shattered & broken more from the emotional onslaught of betrayal he decided to give up and stop all thought of business and was nursing his wounds when Somali, forced and cajoled him to restart the venture in his own refreshed, with whatever resources he had!

With hardly any resources and only the moral support of Somali & Vishal Pandey a 21 years fresh engineering graduate intern from Bombay who joined him! He laid down his plans!

Since, Chandan has in his entire career only worked on large projects, he couldn’t now run a Mom&Pop corner store! His project must have his signature of high speed, high growth and higher potential! With practically zero funds he started the business, his first penny was earned on 14th April 2014, and by December 2015 the enterprise has been earning INR 5 crores monthly and has employees 20 people! And growing….

Chandan believed in living his life on the fast lane, riding the leading edge of the storm, in this case innovative technology!

Even in his career as employee during the 37 years, every 5 years he has changed his jobs to join something he knew nothing about in the past till he mastered the subject! He called every tenure to be a journey from ignorance to enlightenment! He’s known as the Phoenix who destroyed himself to ashes and rises again every 5 years!

After he joined Graphics India the distributors of Rank Xerox in India in 1980 at the age of 20, he was the team leader by age 21 and a fast learner, he understood that leadership is all about understanding people and thought!

Over the years he mastered thought leadership and human relationships! By 28, Chandan was a General Manager with a very reputed Technology Company, a Vice president by 31 and had refused to become a CEO before 45 as he thought and believed it would burn him out due to high stress and long tenure on that role so he advanced his career by changing his track at 40 to learn by joining British Telecom here he learnt International Telecom, Internet, Satellite Telecom & Submarine Cable System all of which were new and unheard of in those days!

Chandan’s highest claim to fame and worth is his network of relationship that he has created over the past 37 years! It’s worth more than several Billion Dollars but refuses to ever take favours from any of his contacts and friends!

Chandan is grateful for the past and in appreciation for the support he has received! He spends significant time money and resources in grooming youngsters he has set up a trust under the name of “Manana Care Foundation” that would work to return his gratitude to the world society to the best of his ability, this trust is run by his wife and life partner Somali!

All the aspirations can be fulfilled only if we are a profitable business for which he mentors his business units under the Grupo Manana (pronounced – money Ana)!

Manana innovations Pvt Limited and Touch-Point Services Pvt. Limited are Technology Companies of the group! Delivering products and services to consumers and clients! The market potential of the industries that these companies serve are multi billion dollars from their business just in India & targeted to support the Digital India Initiative!

Grupo Manana has a prized possession the HR Strategic Business Unit, ProdCoMS LLP, this is involved in fulfilling the national mandate laid down by our current leader for Skilling India, Make in India & Digital India! ProdCoMS LLP recruits fresh graduates, trains and grooms them and teaches them to serve international technology companies and earn foreign exchange for India by providing services globally!

Grupo Manana has embarked on a very ambitious project that has socio-Economic contribution by empowering women to enable unemployed, but willing and enthusiastic ladies to work from home and start modest earning!

Whist it seems much has been done, if you ask Chandan, he says with a smile I’ve not even reached my 5% mark and we are in a hurry as we have to grow enough to fulfil our social obligations, we must list our company in the leading Stock exchange of the country such that the wealth can be spread as much as possible!

There’s a story behind the name Manana – when he was thinking of the name for his company, he wanted the essence of innovation, expectation, future in the name! What could be better than the word “tomorrow” he chose to call his company Tomorrow in Spanish as it sounds sweet! And the way it must be pronounced is even more interesting, in the Anglo-Indian way, which is Money-Ana (money-Come)

Chandan idolises Mr. Ratan Tata and aspires to be like him in any & every way possible within his lifetime!

Chandan is a very adventurous person spends his leisure camping, driving long distance around countryside, biking super-bikes, cooking, BBQ, writing, reading, photography, travelling and storytelling! Surprisingly he has time for all of these!

Someday he aspires to start a Restaurant where he will cook and serve food himself and watch his food be tasted and stand to see the delight in the eyes of his guests!

Chandan has promised never to hang his boots and will work till his end alongside his people!

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

chandanghoshlifestory

1)  Can You Share with Us What New Project Your Company Is doing now days?

Our company is a constantly evolving entity and we have a larger vision for the future which we’ll be achieving in steps, we are working on several technological projects. Our goal, mission statement and vision is to break-barriers and build-bridges and this is so because we want to serve the unserved and underserved. When we say that it practically takes care of the entire Maslow’s hierarchical pyramid because the bottom is always unserved and the top is always underserved. They are the prime targets of any company assuming that they are sitting ducks that will help them make money. Having said that we have started with two verticals viz. International Roaming SIM which we started with one Global Roaming Card that worked in 190 countries with free incoming in 135 countries and supports Voice SMS & Data. Additionally we have built a portfolio of 25 odd country specific SIMs which are the best in the country not because I claim so but because many of the existing Roaming SIM providers buy from us in bulk to offer to their customers at retail prices. Anything that we think should have a taste of newness and innovation, we have given a twist to the process of SIM card selling. We provide an account of MananaTalk withevery SIM card which is an Application that can be used to make international calls much cheaper than any GSM operator can provide. The saving is upwards of 85% than normal calling costs.

2)  What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I have started my venture as a startup without external funds or investors. Hence I have always been strapped for funds and worked on a bootstrapped budget. We started the business with college fresh pass outs who were possibly without jobs when they joined us so they didn’t have anything to loose when they joined me. Second category of people were the ones who did not have jobs in the initial years of our operation, it is only now that we have started hiring professionals who are being paid higher that their existing jobs. So by mentioning this we have actually groomed people from scratch we did not have any industry experience whatsoever, this is something I take pride in and feel nice about. Second, every day there is a change of us moving forward towards what we planned to do and are doing that is another high that our team feels whilst doing what they are supposed to do.

3)  What aspect do you find most challenging?

I have been an executive at senior ranks in big organizations, always thought that it is easy to run an enterprise. Everything used to get done and hundreds of team members supported me from the backend and were the backbone of all the success of our achievements, my achievements. Here without realizing the truth dawned upon me that everything had to be done by myself, whether I had the skillsets or education with respect to that matter. This was the largest challenge that I have ever faced dealing with ignorance. Slowly but surely me and my entire team had learned and done things that we had never done before and we are on the right side of the law, the government. Even when we went wrong we corrected our errors before they caused significant damage. So we have our limitations, we’ve had good days & bad days. Even the bad days we converted in our favor because we learnt something.

4)  What do you do to relax and unwind?

Oh I’ve got lots of things to relax and unwind. I’m a person who works because one has to work. But living life is a celebration every moment of my life I spend with friends, family. We celebrate, we eat. I eat a lot we love to go shopping. I love cars, I love motorcycles, I love travels I love photography. I love meeting people mentoring young chaps, making friends. The list could go on the entire day. I don’t need to take time out for relaxing, I’m always relaxed.

5)  Tell Us Something Memorable About Your Journey So Far In This Industry?

The journey so far in the industry is memorable throughout. This industry embraced me 25 years ago and it has been a learning experience every day in this industry. Started with Global Telesystems, British telecom, Bharti Airtel limited and then Aircel. Followed by my own venture. Even before starting my own venture I had the biggest learning when I was completely stripped off with the entire investment through 2 of my most trusted deputies whom I groomed as my sons. Despite that when we started we are today able to celebrate. So to mention the most memorable moments, my joining of BT is a memorable memory gave me a new learning, Joining of Airtel, because it was the first time that I was going to setup an ILD Business on my own from scratch and taking it to a Billion Dollars was a big thing and after that I wanted to become a legend as doing once could’ve been a fluke the second time would have certainly have talent and thus again in Aircel I did the same thing Thus giving me the distinction of being the only person in the world who has every setup 2 companies from scratch in Incumbency arena to make two incumbent operators into licensed telecom carriers. I didn’t want to retire and hang my boots so I decided to nurture my creation of an entrepreneur way before the retirement age would come, I left active service as an employee at the age of 54. I would’ve retired this year at the age of 58 and I’m working in my own enterprise, mentoring the team, networking with friends hobnobbing with the chambers and various industry bodies and I’m completely active hence every moment is memorable.

6)  What Challenges are there presently in the Telecom & Broadband Industry?

The challenges are well looked after by the industry leaders, we have faced similar situation in 2002-03 when there were plenty of competitors ready to strangle each other’s throats and none of them doing well. Again from 2013-14 onwards with the 2G 3G many operators came some of which only had a handful of circles again it became a very segmented and scattered market which needed consolidation. Everyone was debt ridden and there were people and companies that do well and there are companies that are pathetically gasping for survival. Now that consolidation has started taking place. In my very personal opinion there will be only 4 large operators and the others will only be parts of these operators. None of them would die off but in the process of consolidation there will be too many people who will lose their jobs and unfortunately only the best will prevail.

7)  What Role Do you see of Your Company in the Digital India Initiative of Government of India & How do you plan to take advantage of this great opportunity?

My company is a very small company with large dreams. All throughout my live I have only joined startups and taken them to levels which were huge and I am not intimidated by the size of the challenge neither does it make me nervous. Having mentioned what I said, Digital India and Make in India are the two aspirations that our company lives by. Under the digital India Initiative we are launching products and services & innovations that are actually bringing down cost enabling IOT enabling Machine to Machine which eventually will end up to so much of data being consumed and transferred to central storage which will require cloud services to become a reality and since cloud services become a reality every transaction will be recorded and Big Data would come into real space and we would be in the center of all this. My team of young enthusiast technocrats are working on this and we would be delivering products to enable the above services and products. We are skilling the youth and under that we are taking people who are absolutely frets training them and putting them into jobs under our skilled manpower roles of serving international companies giving managed services to telecom Industries overseas. My sincere and honest opinion is that the path that we have taken for MII DI AND SKI will make the nation extremely powerful as knowledge, information and wisdom will be on the fingertips of every person who learns how to use a smartphone and computer and connected Devices will be the way of life. Hence IoT &Machine to Machine will Control Everything in the future and we are sitting right in the middle of that Particular evolution.

8)  What New Service / Product is your Company Planning to Launch / Offer? And Why Do You Think People Would Opt For Your Product / Service instead of other Competitors?

The products and services that we are planning to launch belong to a market that is Humungous. The products that we are currently offering has a market potential of 20,000 Crores (3 Billion USD) and not only is it so, the existing that are serving this market are not even generating a gross revenue of 650-700 Crores whereby this industry is under faired, because of which the users of this product and services are availing these services from other revenues (Sources/Vendors). It is my aspiration to bring these customers, the projected customers, the unfired customers onto the scope of this. My competitors alongside of us would go together. We would not compete, but we would supersede competition to make us work together in unity to attack the Industry. It is very similar to one of the beverage companies that let us not attack my competitor’s sale. Let us attack thirst. That is exactly what I want to do.

9)  Please Tell Us Something about Manana’s Recent Acquisition of Gibraltar-based mobile value added services firm The Tenable Group Ltd (TTGL).

I would prefer to not answer this as this under acts of confidentiality

10)  How Does Manana Differ from other International SIM Cards?

Manana is the one that is making the difference to the other SIM Cards. Any differentiator can only last for some time. Manana has started the differentiation game of becoming cheaper, better and higher quality. Others have started following it. Others will also catch up and will grow. We will need to have something ahead of the others. If we are not fast enough they will catch up and there will be no differentiation. So we are agile and we are looking at what we are doing and we are looking at what others are doing and keeping 2 steps ahead of everybody else

11)  Can you tell us a little bit about what first sparked your interest in International SIM Card?

I had mentioned in the earlier question that this industry is 20,000 Crore industry and nobody looked at it like this. The moment I realized that this industry is actually a 20,000 Crore Industry and was addressed and the leadership was a small side line player who was very happy and arrogant with the success and had possibly never though it to be an industry of that size is when I realized that I must get into this business. I don’t have the wherewith all or the resources to go to market to make that industry or capture that industry with that size of money but eventually together we shall get there

12)  What does the future hold for Manana? What can we expect to see in the next year or so?

We are working on some government regulations with bureaucrats to seek help and guidance on how to launch certain services in the country. If that can be done and if we succeed in that I would like to bring a large business into this country which would immediately ramp our business to a level of about 100 Crores a month that is to say modestly. If that happens in the next 2 years’ time you would find Manana to be a Publicly listed company in all the stock exchanges of the country and a Billion dollar company which has become a reality in less than 5 Years.

13)  In your opinion, what are some of the major challenges being faced by the International Travelers, and how Does Manana help to address them?

It’s an Interesting field. It’s a field of recreation. The planning of a holiday or a travel is not very stress free, it is a stressful activity. From the point of deciding where to travel, to the point where the person has already landed at the other side of the world, however close or far is it, one needs to be connected all the time and secure. Security is given by wellbeing of health and monetary comfort. We are entering all these areas of Foreign Exchange, international travel insurance and of course Manana International SIM and Manana Talk which keeps them connected to the near and dear ones in the land and away from the land. We as Manana are here and have mentioned to connect the unconnected distantly, which means people who are distanced and yet unconnected we shall connect them together.

14)  How Do You think GST Will Affect the Telecom Industry?

GST is good for everybody it will be a little bad for the telecom industry because for the telecom industry the Taxes have gone higher. However, overall a person must not look at industry separately, the person has to look at the pocket and the economy. The GST is good for the entire economy and GST is good for the pocket. Having said that even for the telecom industry even though the tax has gone up by a few points they will be able to afford that cost in their spend. It is the telecom industry competition and the technical advancements that are bringing down the cost will compensate for the increase for the GST which will level things out for the operators.

15)  What Are the Major Challenges Faced by the Telecom Industry?

The current situation of amalgamation which is pending is a major challenge that is faced. The pressure of having to buy the spectrum at a very high cost and then to roll out the network at equivalently high cost does not give a good business case for the operators and hence they try to make the ends meet by unethical practices like misleading people by sending incorrect data consumption reports. Whoever disputes are given back some credit and the operators are looking forward to people who don’t challenge.

16)  You are a very well-known name, renowned personality & also inspiration to all. What is your advice for the startups & the young generation?

I’m humbled with the learning that I’m a well-known name and I have been blessed to be successful for all the effort that I have put have yielded results from my employers my projects and myself which has brought me to the level that I have gained wealth, success and respect. Even my startup after I was duped, practically started with no funds. But I believed that we would be successful and we worked very hard. I was of one opinion that we would never take investor money as I am not willing to give control of my company for which we are working so hard. My company belongs to me and my team, and for the investor with a little fund that they could give to me, they cannot take away the intellectual property of my company. Hence my advice to every startup is that if they have a viable business, they should make that business into a reality of revenue earning and then go wherever they can to get money better as debt than as equity. But if you have to go equity you have to grow your business big enough to be listed in a stock exchange rather than take the investor route and take funding. Everyone cannot become a GAFA (Google Amazon Facebook Apple). So leave the dreams of becoming a GAFA and have the aspirations to become greater than yourselves by the virtue of bringing goodness to larger masses of people. The reason for which GAFA has succeeded is that they have changed mankind’s lifestyle. Can you make such a difference? Focus on that. That is my advice try and rough it out first rather than trying to sell an Idea even before you’ve launched it.