Pushkar Kharbanda, the founder of Clixlogix tells us about his journey of overcoming challenges posed by COVID-19.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Pushkar Kharbanda: Firstly, a big thank you for thinking about us for this series. I feel I am somewhere between better and best, as over time, we (me, my family, and extended Clixlogix family) have learned how to surf well in the tides of COVID-19. I Will say I also have that point of view where the pandemic has given me ample family time and lifetime memories to cherish forever.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Clixlogix.
Pushkar Kharbanda: I started my career as a content writer. Soon after this, I transitioned into the IT consultant team within my organization which cultivated a perspective of entrepreneurship within me. Thanks to the great mentors I had there, I got great exposure that laid an entrepreneurial foundation in me.
I was always passionate about client satisfaction and helped them achieve desired results by going the extra mile. Every company is run by people to help people. So, service-based companies have to be more human than just commercial and sales. My passion for creating a client-driven company led me to form Clixlogix.
How does Clixlogix innovate?
Pushkar Kharbanda: To bring more innovation, one has to have an efficient working process. We adapted the Muda-Mura-Muri method, which is also known as the lean method. We aim at continuous improvement and making the entire operating machinery more efficient in terms of eliminating any unnecessary process or indulgence. This ensures that all the teams focus on all that actually matters, and there is no friction between them. When all parts work in perfect synchronization, the machine gets more efficient. This opens new doors for innovation.
The next strategy I love the most is the Kaizen method. We take feedback from the team, management, and clients. Based on the feedback, we readjust and restructure our team and work culture for 6 months. The process is done without disturbing the ongoing client projects. This allows us more improvement for innovation and ventures in the new emerging technologies. This method helped us to transform from just a marketing agency to a full-fledged IT agency. Our clients approached with new demands in verticals we didn’t operate and expected us to help them with more complex problems. This gave us immense opportunities to venture into new marketing verticals. With time we cultivated a natural affinity towards new emerging technologies like blockchain, Machine Learning, and AI.
We are now early adopters of emerging technologies, and Kaizen helps us to adapt smoothly. We are now a multi-disciplined and multi-skilled team, far different from what we used to be earlier. I hope we continue to evolve and become more efficient with time.
How did the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Pushkar Kharbanda: COVID-19 was indeed a callous time for all of us. As the governemnt imposed the lockdown, a wave of uncertainty shook us all. Our clients paused the ongoing projects back then. Clients paused any budgeting, and projects paused for a while, as everybody needed some time to adapt and adjust to the new normal. However, within a few weeks, the clouds of uncertainty cleared off.
Most businesses started turning online, started looking for good agencies for digitizing their business more and more. We hired many new people during the lockdown, and our existing clients kept coming back to us with more service demands. Businesses across the world were more open to outsourcing than ever, which clearly benefited us. They were more open to people working remotely. The time has also been very transformative for all of us. From a desktop organization, we turned into a laptop organization. According to Paul Daugherty, co-author of Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI, CoVID is different than any other crisis. It accelerated the adoption of technologies that brought people closer, even being far apart.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Pushkar Kharbanda: No. Although there was a little uncertainty in the initial days, we didn’t have to make any tough decisions. We chose to adapt and evolve in these tough times, which turned out to be quite rewarding. We adapted the ERP tracking system for better team collaboration and ensuring productivity.
We were an “office only” work culture followers. CoVID turned us from a desktop-only company to a laptop-only organization. Working from home gave us more flexibility, and fewer distractions made us quite more productive. We strategized our work culture, and with the aid of technology, we could build trust amongst the team. We added many people to the team. Many employees are working even from hill stations, all thanks to the tech-aided trust we built. To ensure our employees’ sound mental health and break the monotony of the team, we conduct biweekly fun sessions. Our HR team tries their best that no day goes dull and things run quite smoothly.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Pushkar Kharbanda: COVID-19 had unique problems attached to it from being a desktop-only organization to becoming a fully functional remote working workforce. Purchasing laptops for our team was a big step. For minute operation tracking, our go-to solution was switching to ERP to deliver unmatched quality work. Another benefit of having ERP was to make our clients see our genuine efforts and keep a tab on our remote working process. Moreover, we went a step ahead for healthy customer relationship management, and we hired experienced technical leaders from well-established organizations to offer tailored IT solutions. We started floating feedback forms to understand the setbacks and our strengths. As a team, I believe we were following the motto that if there is adversity, we should perform better so that our existence is not endangered.
Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Pushkar Kharbanda: Since the entire team is working from home, tracking their productivity is essential. We are not at the office anymore, so collaborating while being home was quite tricky. However, as an ERP system, we started using Zoho. It made micro task management and performance tracking effortless. The way ZOHO says that will be the operating system of the organization turned out to be true with their great features coming at an effective price. Most of our clients are from around the globe, so using Zoom was necessary for a long time, but I feel during the pandemic, the way virtual meeting platforms have grown is the primary reason for hiked share market value of Zoom. On the technical front, too, we strictly started using DevOps tools like Zira and Github, and Jenkins for CICD. Moreover, hiring skilled professionals who knew these tools helped us in fast evolution.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Pushkar Kharbanda: If I imagine us back to the days when lockdown started will say we were cold feet and anxious about the future. And, there is no doubt that the relaxed Indian government policies for startups and SMEs helped a lot. However, when it comes to taking the benefit of government grants, we never sought any financial aid of any sort from the government. Even in the past, there were many initiatives launched by the government to encourage startup infrastructure, but we never needed one. We are a completely bootstrapped organization, all thanks to the blood and sweat of the team. We have people who have sustained with us through the thick and thins of my entrepreneurial journey.
Whatever and wherever we are today is due to our team’s hard work and the unwavering confidence of our clients in us. They keep coming back to us because we don’t give them a reason not to. They are the ones that keep our business afloat.
Your final thoughts?
Pushkar Kharbanda: COVID tested us SMBs. However, it is important to remember that as an employer, we are obliged to take care of our employees. No matter what, we should never let people down who worked tirelessly for us. It is not just employees but their families that depend on us. We might have to make tough decisions, but we should try to make the right decisions.