First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Saravana Kumar : My family comprises not just my spouse, parents & children, but all my colleagues at Kovai.co. These have been uncertain times for all of us but fortunately, we have not been affected in a major way. Thank you for asking.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company
Saravana Kumar : I was born and raised in Coimbatore, a city located in Southern India. Soon after my Masters, in 2000, I got an opportunity to work in London, where I started working for various consulting firms before moving to Microsoft. Later, I worked for Accenture and Fidelity Investment respectively.
During my stint at Microsoft, I was specializing in a specific technology – BizTalk Server, a middleware product. As I was closely working with the product, I was able to identify different problematic areas of the product. That was a great opportunity and it prompted me to start building solutions as a hobby, and then eventually in 2010, what started as a hobby turned into a scalable business.
How does your company innovate?
Saravana Kumar : Our basic mantra is “Don’t build products that you can’t sell and, don’t sell products that you can’t build”. While developing new products and solutions, we always think long-term. Business owners should always ensure that they integrate systems and processes that are easy to follow for them and for their people.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your company and how are you coping?
Saravana Kumar : The pandemic has in general been challenging for all businesses across the globe. Kovai.co as a company has always embraced new technologies that are transformational for the business. Thanks to our robust communication platform and business models, it’s business as usual for all of us here.
We are not too concerned with productivity as we have seen our employees meeting expectations and beyond even during flexible work from home.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Saravana Kumar : Earlier, I used to second-guess myself, and take advice from a lot of people for every single thing I did. Every time there was a problem with an employee, I used to immediately call one of my advisors and follow their advice, which once resulted in losing one of our early employees. Only later, I realized that the advisors might not have the necessary context to offer the right advice. Their advice came from their past experience and not from the current situation. So the bottomline is: follow your hunch and take the right decisions.
What specific tools, software and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Saravana Kumar : We started using our communication platform, MS Teams, almost 4 years back and ever since then, all our internal communication has been routed through it; thereby reducing the number of internal mails exchanged back and forth.
Even demo calls with our prospective leads have been done primarily using MS Teams and Zoom. Our CEO and the majority of our leadership team are based out of the UK right from the start and have been running the company remotely for the last 10 years. As a result, moving all our employees to the WFH model happened seamlessly for us.
We follow a weekly level 10 meeting model to ensure that individual rocks / goals preset towards the growth of the company are met, along with challenges discussed. This model has been judiciously followed in the company for nearly 2 years and has been working well for us.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Saravana Kumar : Our new product – Document360, competes with major products like Helpjuice, GetGuru,Proprofs, Bloomfire,and Confluence etc. in the market. I believe that the game is on until the passion is on. My passion has always been instrumental in building great products. It is that passion that drives me to wake up at 4:30 am and keep going despite all challenges. The other important thing is the ability to impact so many people’s lives and create something bigger than me in the community,
Your final thoughts:
Saravana Kumar : Challenges are never permanent. Any adversity that comes your way will subside over time. It is important to remember that every pain we go through is temporary. You’ll struggle for a while, but eventually, things will turn around. It is this belief that keeps me going in these difficult times.
Saravana Kumar :
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