Raj Shah, Founder of Global Solutions tells us about technology.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Raj Shah: My family and I are doing very well. Covid has given us some much-needed perspective and has shown us how to find pleasure in small things. Working couples now suddenly get to see the significance of the load their partner lifts at home. Parents have suddenly realized how little they have been part of their children’s struggles and dreams. Old lost school friends are back in our life. People are making time to exercise, to meditate, to reflect. Covid has shown us what really matters and how we take those really important things for granted.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Global Solutions.
Raj Shah: I am from Mumbai, India. I always wanted to do business, but I wasn’t sure what business I wanted to start. When I was in college, my uncle in the USA told me that to do something in Computers and then find a job in the USA as there was a lot of demand for skilled workers in the USA. That’s how I got enrolled in a computer course.
After doing a basic course, I did not have the funds to pay for the advanced course of programming. That’s when I decided to take a job in the same computer institute where I was learning. They were paying a very nominal salary, but they said they would allow me to sit in advance courses in my free time when I am not teaching basic computers to others. I liked the idea of being able to learn advanced technologies, and I accepted their offer. This was my first step towards starting my journey as an entrepreneur.
While I was still learning advanced courses, I had already decided what would be the name of my company and had already printed my business cards.
Then one thing led to another, and in 12 months, I had an offer to work with a music channel and handle their website and software work. I used to work from 10 to 6, and after my job, I would do marketing, meet new clients, and would also do their software/website work at night when I used to get time. I use to work 16-18 hours a day. I invested all the money I saved from my salary and freelance work in buying a small office. One day when I saw that I had 15-20 clients who were giving me regular work and I could survive without my monthly salary, I quit my job and started my company full time. My company is called Global Solutions.
My biggest achievement was when my company was featured in Wall Street Journal, Newspaper USA.
How does Global Solutions innovate?
Raj Shah: We arrange monthly workshops on different technologies for our team where we have industry experts coming and sharing their knowledge. We also attend a lot of seminars, exhibitions and subscribe to training channels where experts around the world share their experience and pass on their knowledge.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Raj Shah: The Pandemic affected our business in a big way. We do a yearly billing with a lot of our big clients, and just when we were about to raise the bill in 2020, the pandemic struck, forcing everyone into lockdown. For the initial 2-3 months, we managed to pay our team from our savings as I could not ask for payments from my clients at that time. I had to support not only my staff but also my clients during that difficult time. They understood the kind gesture we did for them and quickly cleared all the payments after June 2020.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Raj Shah: First few days were very bad as we had never worked remotely. Every day the team used to report to the office, and we all used to work simultaneously on multiple projects. Half of the team did not have laptops with them when the pandemic struck; the other few were stuck in their hometown. We had to arrange for laptops and computers even though the shops were closed; we managed to get few laptops from our sources, and the team was ready to work remotely in a week’s time.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Raj Shah: Our USP has been a fast turnaround and immediate response. I have always been available on Whatsapp/Skype to my clients across the world 24×7, so we did not have to use any new tools because for most of my clients, I was only an email/WhatsApp away, and they could reach me anytime. At times we are using Zoom/Teams if required.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Raj Shah: Our Government believed that the Indian IT business was on strong legs, so our industry did not get much help/grant from them as they had to support other sectors which needed strong government support, and we are Ok with the hard choices our Government had to make in this Pandemic.
Your final thoughts?
Raj Shah: In the face of adversity, we always have a choice. We can be bitter, or we can get better. Stay safe and strong. The Pandemic has made all of us more resilient, and we will pass through this quickly.
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