It’s always a pleasure to meet industry experts and know about their entrepreneurial journey. There are so many things we can learn from their experience, which is precisely why we will highlight the journey of Manish Bhalla – Founder of FATbit Technologies and Yo!Kart in today’s interview.
For those who don’t know about his firms, FATbit Technologies is a one-stop-solution that can help you stay ahead in today’s digital economy. Meanwhile, Yo!Kart allows you to transform your ecommerce marketplace idea into a reality. With that being said, let’s hear about them from the founder himself!
Over to Manish.
Q. Cloudways: Hi Manish, tell us about yourself.
Manish Bhalla: I like to label myself as someone with high aspirations and big dreams. I’m an avid reader, and books have always been my favorite mentor. Areas that pique my reading interests are: Business and Personal Development, Marketing, User Experience, Processes, People Management, Art/Design, and Technology. I strongly believe that books are one of the best sources of learning and it can assist emerging entrepreneurs to scale their business significantly.
Q. Cloudways: Tell us about FATbit & Yo!Kart
Manish Bhalla: FATbit is a startup-friendly organization. Our solutions are centered around four key areas – planning, designing, development, and growth. FATbit holds commendable expertise in the ecommerce space and offers more than a decade of professional experience for startups, SMBs, as well as large enterprises.
For Yo!Kart, well, after observing the bullish market sentiment from the ecommerce domain in 2015, we created this off-the-shelf online marketplace solution. Yo!Kart primarily helps startups as it offers market readiness at competitive pricing. Various billion-dollar enterprises have put their faith in us simply because we offer a reliable foundation for them to embrace the ecommerce industry as part of their digital strategy.
It was a moment of pride for us when Yo!Kart won the Best Product Award at STPI Awards during TiEcon 2016. Our team had worked round the clock to improve Yo!Kart and while we were at it, many leading publications such as Forbes, The Telegraph, Inc., and more, featured our online marketplace solution and acknowledged the role of Yo!Kart in helping startups to make a mark in the ecommerce industry.
Q. Cloudways: What is your definition of a startup? What are your startups all about? What problems do your startups solve for the clients?
Manish Bhalla: A startup is an adventurous journey where an entrepreneur decides to walk the path unexplored. The primary objective of this journey is to explore something new or build something a lot better than the close alternatives.
My startup is about delivering technology solutions to startups and SMBs at affordable prices, and we do it with a smile. The essence of customer service is deep-rooted in our foundations and we are solving the following problems for our clients:
- They get a reliable Technology Partner with relevant experience and skills
- Most of our off-the-shelf solutions are built around successful business models
- The solutions delivered are always user-friendly and scalable with customizations as per the business needs of different clients
Q. Cloudways: Did you bootstrap or was your startup funded? In how many years did you reach the break-even stage?
Manish Bhalla: FATbit was built with small savings of approximately USD 2500 and fortunately, we reached the break-even point in the first couple of months.
Q. Cloudways: On one hand, you are working on creating platforms for startups. On the other, you are focused on customized solutions. In the near future, which of the two will be the most popular method of digital brand development? And why?
Manish Bhalla: Until 2015, we were focused towards delivering custom solutions. But we realized if we want to serve a large number of entrepreneurs, we must build and offer solutions which can help startups and SMBs establish and expand their businesses.
Therefore, we invested into building marketplaces for B2B and B2C as per the industry trends based on the available statistics. The future belongs to the sharing economy and marketplaces. Our solutions primarily focus on online selling, renting, hiring professionals, travel/fun activities, ordering food/grocery online, booking cabs, online education and other popular business models which will continue to grow in the future.
Q. Cloudways: You learned to program through your brother’s books. Why did you choose to learn to code in the early 2000s? What motivated you to follow this path?
Manish Bhalla: The dotcom bubble had burst in the early 2000s. In India, the IT industry was in its infancy, but it brought the world of programming closer to me. Before jumping into programming, I was pursuing Chartered Accountancy; and I found ecommerce much more fascinating than accounting and taxation. Also, it was a rewarding business opportunity which I was waiting for since I was a teenager.
Q. Cloudways: What excites you most about your industry? Where do you see it heading in the near future?
Manish Bhalla: Digital revolution is here to stay and it is the future. IT is changing how people interact, transact, entertain, and educate. Automation and digitalization are the keys to build competitive advantages in the market. Technology will continue helping businesses to optimize their operations, marketing, production, distribution, management, customer service, and much more.
With big data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence – technology will bring down the cost of bulk processing, monitoring, repetitive jobs, grievance handling, customer support, policing, security and many other enormous tasks of businesses and government agencies.
Q. Cloudways: Name five people who have inspired you the most?
1. Late Mr. Dheeru Bhai Ambani
2. Bill Gates (Founder of Microsoft)
3. Steve Jobs (Founder of Apple)
4. Sanjeev Bikhchandani (Founder of Naukri.com)
5. Ritesh Aggarwal (Founder of Oyo Rooms)
Q. Cloudways: What is one advice you still remember and that has practically changed your life?
Manish Bhalla: My father always advised me to read books. I learnt Programming, Marketing, Sales, People Management through the books. Whenever I feel stuck in the business, I search for books related to the problem, I get useful guidance and later on, the solution. If anybody asks for advice – I always advise them to read as many relevant books as they can.
Q. Cloudways: What’s your daily routine? How do you achieve work-life balance?
Manish Bhalla: Until recently, my daily routine has always been very hectic. I worked for almost 14 hours per day and approx 70-80 hours per week. Since 2016-17, I started to maintain a better work-life balance. I worked on time-management and building a strong team that could share my work load. Now almost every department has a very strong and capable department head which gives me some room to spend time with my family and friends.
Q. Cloudways: Everyone fails. Can you recount the failures that taught you the most valuable lessons? How did you cope with them?
Manish Bhalla: True, failures are a part of the entrepreneurial journey. There were many failures which taught me the intricacies of business and life in general. Some of them are:
- People are the biggest asset for any company. Many times opportunities came but we could not embrace them because we did not have the required skills in the team. Lesson learnt: We should keep working on hiring talented people with diverse skill sets and different areas of expertise.
- Sometimes, timing is more important than perfection and extra costs involved. Critical timelines must be met at any cost.
- We tried to scale too early and setup multiple offices at different locations. But we could not manage these offices and it incurred huge losses. Lesson learnt: Build a strong team of managers before expanding your operations.
- Startups do not invest much in HR and finance departments, we also made the same mistake and it hampered our growth for many years. I would like to strongly advise the small businesses and startups to always have HR and Finance team in your workforce as soon as possible. It helps you concentrate on other areas of business that need more time and attention from you.
- A client who took a chargeback unethically. We worked for a client for almost 6 months and he took a chargeback. Lesson learnt: Do not take large payments via Credit Cards.
- When we started growing, we got complacent and assumed we can sell everything that we develop. We focused too much on the internal factors instead of the external ones (Marketing/Sales/Profitability). Effective Marketing and Sales are more important than your product and services. 90% of the startups fail during the initial 3 years because of such basic mistakes. We should focus equally on our products, services, and promotions.
Q. Cloudways: What books do you recommend for online entrepreneurs?
1. Think & Grow Rich (by Napoleon Hill)
One of my all time favorites, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill is an evergreen book for personal development and self-improvement. In this book the author shares his philosophy that aims to help other people succeed in their line of work, something they are passionate about and shares the mantras to do whatever you can imagine.
2. Zero to One (by Peter Thiel)
I would say this book is a must-read for every aspiring entrepreneur. Zero to One is a book by Peter Thiel and it concisely describes different version of notes on startups. The readers can leverage the knowledge in the book and learn more about building a startup in the present-day hyper-competitive scenario.
3. The Lean Startup (by Eric Ries)
Going lean means getting the most out of what you have. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries is a book that helps the reader in developing a scientific approach to starting and scaling-up new businesses while making sure that the desired products are delivered to the consumers quickly. I would recommend this book to those who are focused towards developing new and innovative products.
4. Just Listen (by Mark Goulston)
Every wise man agrees and maintains that listening is very important. Just Listen by Mark Goulston can help you reach out to the desired people and turn them into your business allies. The author’s streamlined techniques can help readers get more business, make powerful first impressions and gain the trust of others by effective listening.
5. The Psychology of Selling (by Brian Tracy)
I read this book to understand the psychology of one of the top sales trainers in the world today. The Psychology of Selling by Brian Tracy, lays stress on developing a sound selling psychology before creating new techniques or different modes of selling. It also highlights why an entrepreneur must be calm and composed and always have control over his thoughts, feelings and actions to grow as a salesperson.
Q. Cloudways: Almost 90% of startups fail in their first year. What kept you going during your initial years?
Perseverance and agility helped us survive and grow. We never overspent. We are unwasteful till date.
Q. Cloudways: Please provide us with an image of your workspace.
Found Manish’s ideas interesting? Connect with him on LinkedIn.
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Sajjad is an Ecommerce Community Manager at Cloudways. He loves helping out Ecommerce store owners, merchants and marketers in establishing their businesses and startups. Sajjad enjoys playing table tennis and cricket over the weekend.