*** Special Feature - November 2014 ***
About the Author
The most vivid memory of R.T. Manu Ramesh's childhood is that of changing schools every two years owing to his fathers transferable job as a civil servant with the Government of India. It varied from a convent run by Catholic priests in white cassocks in a small town at one end of the spectrum to residential schools of ochre robed Hindu Sanyasis .He graduated as a Mechanical Engineer from the reputed RV College of Engineering, Bangalore, India, in 2006 and started his career in the IT industry as a software programmer. He however found his true calling a couple of years later when a dynamic, young, entrepreneur, invited him to join his start-up, Aurigo Software Technologies, as a part of the Sales and Marketing team. The firm was to expand in India in a big way. Playing a crucial role in the companys growth Manu was instrumental in its foray into the India market and acquisition of first ten customers in India. He now works for an MNC and is based in San Jose, California. He is an avid tennis player and swimmer. He has an ear for music. He enjoys travelling, reading, water surfing and watching movies during free time.
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Read an Excerpt
For many people across the world a candle is a romantic symbol. It conjures up an image of a fine restaurant, a romantic evening, a bottle of expensive wine, the company of a soul mate of the opposite or same sex and finally, the prospect of having sex. The sex could be a fall into any of the categories -- plain vanilla sex, break up sex, makeup sex, Bondage and Discipline (B&D), Sadism and Masochism (S&M), Dominance and submission (D&S). However for most people in India, a candle would bring back memories of terrible nights when power cuts made life living hell. For the geeks, it would be the night the power cut caused them to score two marks less than their only other geek friend, who did not incidentally experience power cut. Damn it!! Murphy’s laws. The dim light of the candle would have distracted the geeks momentarily causing them to miss problem number 5 on page 321 (boy, I usually never got to page 321), the very same problem which appeared as a two mark question. For others, the candles would trigger memories of that sleepless summer night. Sleepless, not because they were having sex all night, but because the power cut had left them swatting the ubiquitous mosquitoes which descended on them, smacking their lips as they looked at their sumptuous dinner. The reasons for these power cuts are the classic third world issues: the perennial shortage of power, the inept government officials, the odd thunderstorm, the transformer next door which gave out sparks and exploded all of a sudden.
On the positive side, the frequent power cuts or rather the not so frequent power supply provided a golden opportunity for entrepreneurs to demonstrate their creative genius. Candles were always in demand from people of every socio economic background because of which the candle industry flourished. When I say candles, I refer to the thin, white, odourless pencil shaped ones, not the multicoloured, heart shaped, scented ones which come in every imaginable colour, be it ocean blue, salmon pink, mild lavender or polka dotted and when placed in toilets makes our poop smell nice. The scented candles are a luxury an Indian could do without. She/he is accustomed to the omnipresent stench of shit and piss on the streets, so smelling it in the toilet, where these bodily wastes rightly belong, isn’t such a big deal. The more affluent invested in kerosene lamps, torch lights and another contraption termed emergency lights. The last one was a glorified torch light except that it gave out bright white light instead of the dull yellow one. It is ironical that it was called an emergency light as it was used most of the time. It would be more apt to call the regular light the emergency light and the emergency light the regular light! And finally people selling Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) and generators aggressively targeted the really wealthy. They had their sales pitches ready “You will always have power. Your fans, TVs, grinders, microwaves, hair straighteners, hair curlers and vibrators will almost always work. You will forget what darkness is. You will never have to think ‘Oops! Did I hit the save button’.”
Of late, owing to a combination of the power shortage in India, the furore about global warming and the fear of having to swim for our lives carrying a male and female of each species, generating power by eco friendly means and selling it to the government proved to be a very lucrative business model. The methods to generate the power were several. The simple, time tested hydro power, where the kinetic energy of water falling from a height ran a turbine, inundating large swathes of land in the process and providing plenty of grist to Arundhati Roy’s mill. Wind power, which involved erecting gigantic fans which gyrated to the blowing winds. Solar power, which captured the abundant energy emanating from the sun using mirrors and lenses. Many of these companies, flush with funds from the US Venture Capital (VC) firms, were run by enterprising, young, Indians who had graduated from US B Schools and knew how to navigate the corrupt Indian political system. The companies saw impressive growth and what they experienced was considered just the tip of the iceberg. Two such companies were AUM Power and Olive Green Power. Oregon was wooing these companies, trying really hard to squeeze itself into their supply chain.
Aum Power generated not only hydro power but sold power as well as carbon credits. The company, started by a banker, was now run by his two Duke and NYU MBA sons. The Venture Capitalists had directed the company to procure a project management system in anticipation of its stellar growth.
“The lead is good Venky. I don’t know how much they will spend though. The company is not huge but their revenues can go only one way. Up! It might make sense to get a foot in the door.”
“Have you worked the account?” asked Venky. “Who is the CEO? Who are we in touch with? What stage are we in?”
“We are in touch with the CFO. We have demonstrated our solution once. The company is venture funded, started by a retired banker and now run by his sons. Smart blokes, both from elite US B schools.”
The mention of B School made Venky look up. If there was one thing he disliked more than losing a deal, it was B Schools. I do not know the reasons for his almost congenital dislike. Maybe some B School grad had been really mean to him when he was a child causing irreparable damage to his psyche. Maybe, it was the fact that he wanted an MBA real bad but settled for an MS as his family could not afford the exorbitant B School fees. Before he knew it, he was married, had two kids and a company to run, so no time to go back to college. You just had to tell him that you plan to do an MBA (especially from a B School in the US) and his blood pressure would shoot up. Instantly, he would start his B School bashing “Why would you want to spend two years of your life studying when you could be making money? Real entrepreneurs never go to B School. Bill gates didn’t, Dhiru Bhai Ambani did not, hell, none of the investors in Oregon have, and I haven’t. If you are passionate about business, you start a company. You don’t go to B School.” Well Dhiru Bhai Ambani did not go to B School, but both his sons Mukesh and Anil Ambani did. Of course the fact that Venky and the Oregon investors did not study at B School, did little to tilt the argument in his favour if you looked at the abysmal state of affairs at Oregon.
“Have we finished the demonstration? Did it go well?”
I gulped. Product demonstrations were almost always pathetic at Oregon. The folks who demonstrated the product were as incompetent as the folks who took care of engineering. The team which carried out the demo was called by the fancy name, ‘pre-sales’. ‘No sales’ would have been more appropriate because Oregon invariably lost the deal when they showed the product to the prospect and the sales folks were told they did not qualify a lead very well.
About the Book
Rajesh Iyer, a young, ambitious salesperson, returns to ñThe Sales Roomî of Oregon Software Technologies after an aborted attempt at getting into a business school in the US, only to notice the metamorphosis of the software start-up which he had earlier been an integral part of. What used to be a rat-infested hole in the midst of a vegetable market is now a swanky, state of the art facility owned by an upcoming Bollywood star. The enthusiastic and compact team firing on all cylinders is replaced by a sclerotic and bureaucratic set up. Sales review meetings, once rife with passionate discussions, are now replete with profanities. The ill tempered angel investor's scream can be heard all the way from his villa in New York.Rajesh, now shunted into an innocuous role finds every effort made to alleviate the condition of the demoralized sales team, met with resistance. As revenues dwindle and tempers rise, Rajesh realizes he is running out of time and options. He either toes the CEO, Venky's line and becomes party to a sham or quits citing a host of plausible reasons. This hilarious narrative takes the reader from plush corporate boardrooms of Bangalore to the seedy hotels in Delhi as Oregon meanders in search of illusory customer wins. Rajesh meets several interesting characters ranging from the busty Polish graphics designer to the loquacious pimp masquerading as a taxi driver.
Buy the Book
1 Autographed Paperback Copy of The Sales Room by R.T.Manu Ramesh to a lucky Indian Resident.