Company with a difference- Sand & Mind ITes

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In its co-founders words “Sand & Mind believes in the “can do” quotient rather than grades, experience or your references marks or your previous successes. If you believe that you can do, you can solve the problem then you have a place in our team.” It is their uncompromising devotion toward work which makes them stand out among bunch of other similar IT ventures. Here is main part of our interview with Mr Kabir Bhaskar Chattoraj, Co-founder Sand & Mind ITeS\

Techaloo: What is Sand & Mind ITeS (SMITES here after)? How is it different from its competitors?
Kabir: SMITES is primarily targeted as a Product Development company. However we started with services to fund our own seed money and plus to have a sustainable system. So, we are actually now doing what we always wanted to do i.e. creating a technology enterprise acting as the umbrella company for our ideas. We are no different from any other business solution firm but yes we believe in something that is different from others. We have our value system that says “Keep your conscience clean”, which is prevalent in our work culture. So we deliver performance with full transparency and we keep our faith in Open Source development ideologies. This makes our work more productive and cost effective.

Techaloo: What is the vision of your company and who all are its target customers?

Kabir: As of our standard line, it says – We will be a global brand for Change through Simplification, Growth and Sustainability. Based on our experiences back in college, we have always avoided complicated explanations of books. We all agree to the fact that life is actually not that complicated than how some books perceive it to be. When it comes to solutions, we believe in simplicity.
We are always exploring new opportunities in terms of business ideas and products. Also I would like to specify that along with software services, we’re now focusing on our products, which have always been on our ‘to do’ list. Much more so because now we have experience as well as a network of people who are there to guide and accompany us. People, who we came to be in touch with by delivering our services and making friendly relationships.

Techaloo: Tell us a little bit about yourself and co-­founders.
Kabir: We are all batch­mates from graduation at JSS Academy of Technical Education, Noida. We all had our own specialities to make the grandeur of a perfect team. Yahya Sabir, the people’s man is the business guy of the team. Ujjawal Chhapria, the only guy in our group who could sustain 3 years of graduation with 80 plus of heart­rate. He is a great push to get things done and always makes sure that we will have things done much before deadline. Pritam Charan Meena, man with the ‘jugaad’, always comes up with the cheapest hardware to implement any crazy process. He is also an expert on mobile technology. I am on the other hand always been the solution guy, and I do the same even now. So, when we started, we realized that we already have what we need to get things rolling without much introspection.

Techaloo:.   What/who inspired you to start SMITES?
Kabir: We all had different reasons to start the venture, primarily it is Yahya Sabir, who always wanted to start something new in technology domain plus he always comes up with cool ideas for business. For me it was him only who pulled me in and I joined in after realizing that we make a great mix of intellect and conceptualising potential. Ujjawal & Pritam actually joined to pump in their family blood of biz generation.

Techaloo:  When did you start SMITES? Were you people still in college back then or your courses were over?
Kabir: We started our operation in April 2011 and at that time we are all done with our graduation that’s BCA at JSS Academy of Technical Education, Noida in 2010. I was doing my postgraduation from IP university which I will complete in 2013. Yahya was working with US company Super Technologies as Junior Accounts Manger, which he left an year back from now. Pritam and Ujjawal were persuing skill enhancment courses while working at the venture alongside.

Techaloo: What was seed capital? How did you manage that?
Kabir:The initial capital was invested by us only which we all earned with our prior jobs that we all did before college and alongside college. This was quite minimal but our work helped us to sustain the need of finance what was required when needed.

Techaloo: What are the challenges you faced in establishing your company?
Kabir: Our initial challenge was in deciding how we will fund our ideas, but then this plan of bootstrapping ourselves went through among us and we started our operation in April 2011. As we all were involved with one thing or the other alongside this venture, like me with  post­graduation and  Yahya  with  job,  so  time  management was the biggest challenge. But through time when you are in the journey you learn from your mistakes. Now we are all into our endeavour to make this venture a success.

Techaloo: How much satisfied you are with your journey so far? What are your future plans?
Kabir: We have mixed feelings about our journey so far, but we are moving forward. Starting a venture right after college and making it on your own is little difficult because you learn by your own experience. It has its own pros and cons. Still, hard learned experiences are always invaluable. With time we have learned how to grow as professionals and keeping our unique life style in the business.
We   have   now   streamlined   our   services   departments   of   Silvermoon   and WoodspoonSDC and now we are focusing on our partnerships and our initial product ideas.

Techaloo: Your recruitment criterion is really unique and flexible.As your website state all you need in a team member is “to do” quotient, can you tell us about some such members who work for you but is odd for job market?
Kabir: As I said earlier through time we have grown from students to professionals but we have still kept our young resilient heart within. It’s just that energy is now growing in a direction. Me and Yahya were average students but it’s not that we never liked studies, we enjoyed them but we were never able to adapt to the old concrete system. So we understand that you may not be able to get good grades but you are good at what you do. You may have got into B.Tech but you realize you are a Design guy, or you may be English Honours student but there is a programmer in you. So we’re breaking those bounds of system that corners a student from 10th standard without realizing where the student may want to go after discovering his or her interest. So if you “can do” it, all you need is to “prove it” and….you will be hired!

Techaloo: How Silvermoon, WoodspoonSDC, Fixaviour, ShopINR and SeedINR are related to SMITES?
Kabir: They are all our service and product brands. Silvermoon.IN is our web and Internet services department. We have shelved WoodspoonSDC as of now, which was our software  development  cell.  However  we  have  made  “Canvas”  the  research  & development cell where we put best of our talents to work on our products which are in the development stage, so that both the product and the people make the best for each other. ShopINR and SeedINR are our in­house products that we’re working on. We are also in touch with a few investors for these products. Fixaviour is a joint­venture between us and a US firm Nimbusstack LLC for providing remote support solutions for home and enterprise customers in US and Canada. It will be launched in few weeks.

Techaloo: What   is   your   response   to   the   notion   “Indian   eco-­system   does   not   encourage entrepreneurs?”
Kabir: Yes, I do agree that Indian eco-­system does not encourage entrepreneurs, however, I have seen many organizations supporting us and encouraging us. I personally gained much exposure, encouragement and motivation from Jagriti Yatra and Nurture Talent Academy when I was graduating. They helped me get the assurance that we can move forward with what we have. In India, most people still do not have that risk taking attitude for venturing and I do not blame anybody as we need to grow as a nation to have that, and with time we will attain that. I have noticed that you guys, through media, are working hard to promote that culture in the people.

Techaloo: In your opinion what is better, starting the company of your dream right  after college or joining an already established company before to get some experience?
Kabir: I actually do not have any preference on any of the two, but what I do suggest is that if you want to do it, just believe in the fact that “you really want to start something” and have faith in yourself. You can start right after college if that is comfortable to your scenario or you can go for some experience if you and only you feel that you need it. Still, if you know for sure in your heart, do take a leap of faith in yourself and start it. Don’t worry about success or failure, I still don’t know where we will end up either as a success or a failure but one thing I will know that I will never quote anything like – “Had I said that, Had I done this, so might I have gain, So might I have missed” for this part of my life.

Techaloo: What suggestion you will give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Kabir:Only important fact about entrepreneurship which I believe in, is that – keep faith in yourself and keep learning from surrounding while you work on your thing.

Techaloo: What do you think about Techaloo?
Kabir:Techaloo is a nice platform for guys like us. You get to learn what’s going around in the world of entrepreneurship. I really appreciate the fact that you increased the scope till Asia. We really need to keep in my mind our subordinate countries when world of innovation now actually gets the best from our continent. It is also good to see that you are promoting student entrepreneurship as we really need today’s generation to create opportunities for others and help people grow along with you.

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