With 30 years of corporate experience, performing varied roles, Cherian Kuruvila, started his own venture, CNC Transcend Management Services (CNCTMS) to impart his expertise to young ventures. In his interview with Rashi Varshney, he emphasises the need for the young entrepreneur to exchange experiences, conduct more interactions with mentors and create networks to cut through the confusion. Edited Excerpts:
What is CNCTMS all about? How did it begin its journey?
CNCTMS is a management services firm that specialises in business mentoring, strategy consulting and execution along with leadership coaching and development for growth phase companies. CNC stands for the founding managing partners Chari and Cherian. We are a team of professionals with each having three decades of experience in start-ups, sales, marketing, finance, HR, large scale project and profit centre management and running mature cross functional operations. We have worked in organisations like Modi Xerox/Xerox India, Airtel, Reliance Communications, Oberoi, Onicra, Manpower Inc, etc. We started CNCTMS in April 2010 with the mission of filling in building blocks to improve organisational effectiveness and help our clients transcend to the next level. We partnered with a mentoring organisation called Mentor Square focused on SMEs. We also tied up with the Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) and IIM Ahmadabad’s Power of ideas for Entrepreneurs.
Why did you join this space and why do you focus only on entrepreneurs?
We came together to use our combined expertise and our associates to give back to the industry knowledge and experience. We work closely with CEOs and business owners of growth phase of companies facing operational challenges. At the very outset we felt that we could add long lasting value working with SMEs since they were often quite alone and did not have strong leadership or access to senior business mentors or advisors. Considering response, we are in the process of expanding our services to reach larger organisations and corporates too.
Do you focus on any particular sector? Who are your clientele?
Over a certain time we found that the challenges are similar, whether the client is in IT, manufacturing, healthcare, education, travel or any other sector. In fact, we realised that less than 10 percent of the clients we served have been from sectors we had experience in. This showed that we were not constrained by our sectoral experience and could add value to clients across all sectors. We have different types of client: those who are in their growth phase in manufacturing and R&D, FMCG, ITES-BPO, international trading companies, architectural firm, chemical industry, project consultants and telecom equipment supplier. Turnaround phase: IT product and services, telecom services. Early stage phase: IT – ERP software services – HR recruitment, education, IT payrolling, health insurance. Pure Start Up: Logistics, Travel Services
What is your revenue model?
It is often a mix of a monthly retainer for our time and a success fee for long term engagements so that we have a stake in their success. For coaching, we charge according to the number of engagements and our time involvement. We also intend to move into advisory board roles and equity sharing with select clients where our engagement has been long term and we become like an integral part of that organisation.
What is your venture’s growth trajectory?
Keeping in the mind the price sensitivities of SMEs, we have focused more on the value we provide instead of just being driven by financials. We have handled more than 20 clients so far. Our revenue for this fiscal is more than double the previous year. Seeing this trend continuing for the next few years, we are offering more services, leverage on our panel of coaches, mentors and partnerships handle a mix of SME and corporate clients.
What are the common challenges faced by young entrepreneurs?
Business plans are not grounded in reality, lack of experience of promoters in running businesses or in sales and marketing, inadequate finances, compromises in investing in good people, partnership issues, thinking funding is the answer to most problems, impatience to see instant results, inadequate differentiation vis-a-vis competition, people management and retention are just some of the common challenges.
What guidance would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Form more active forums to exchange experiences, conduct more interactions with mentors and experienced entrepreneurs, who can cut through the clutter and confusion. Networking, getting references and having a mentor are a few key drivers for early stage entrepreneurs.
Do you have any clients from Koramangala? What importance does this region hold for you?
Koramangala, being a business hub, provides the right point to encourage start-ups ups. Being a resident of Koramangala for the last 20 years, some of our initial clients have been from here.
How do you go through the process of mentorship?
We start off with an initial meeting with the CEO/MD/Promoter to understand the key business challenges, their vision, opportunities, etc. This then gets converted and prioritised into a scope of work on a document basis, on which we agree on the methodology, the approach and frequency of interactions as well as the period of engagement so that the organization gets full mileage from our intervention. We then begin to work closely with the CEO and the core team of functional heads to drive improvement based on our agreed agenda and prioritisation for each quarter followed by strict review process. Once we have achieved what we set out to do, we slowly withdraw and leave it to the teams to manage the show, and we move into a more advisory board capacity keeping track on progress.