Soaring Ambitions


5 Aug 2011
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Delhi-based Compton Computers has evolved into a leading systems integrator by growing rapidly into new, specialized technology niches. Last year the company recorded Rs 75 crore in topline, with several large and prestigious projects coming its way. With new capabilities and additional domain expertise, the company has now set its sight on becoming a Rs 300-crore company by 2015.

“Having built our capabilities in high-performance computing, particularly in the media and entertainment sector and data center solutions, we are now moving on to create our own cloud services. We have lined up some innovative solutions for retail and education sectors and have invested significantly in building expertise in new technologies. We believe this will provide us with the impetus to quadruple our turnover over the next four years,” says Kamal Vahi, Founder Director, Compton.

The journey
Way back in 1993, Kamal Vahi, all of 23 years, started Compton along with his younger brother Sandeep. At that time Kamal, who had a technical bent of mind, was working with the R&D division of Vintron, while Sandeep was working with Magnum Enterprises, a distributor of Collier’s Encyclopedia in India.

With an investment of Rs 10,000 the duo began their venture. “In the early days, we assembled keyboard PCBs under our own brand and did well. Two years later we expanded into training students on animation software,” says Sandeep, Co-Director in the company.

Word-of-mouth publicity about the quality of training attracted more students. Ex-students who wanted to purchase computers also came to Kamal for advice. That is when Compton started reselling PCs. “Initially the demand for PCs was from the students, and later their parents too helped us with orders from their offices. That’s how we got into the IT business in 1996,” recalls Kamal.

By then the market for branded PCs was developing and the Vahi brothers decided to join hands with PCL. “In 1996, PCL launched an attractive and affordable scheme for their PCs to make it easier for consumers to own a PC. At a time when a PC cost Rs 45,000 they offered it at Rs 20,000. We became a PCL partner and made Rs 3.5 crore in a quarter,” says Sandeep.

But this success was short-lived, as PCL, due to mismanagement, went bankrupt and had to shut down. However, having seen their hard work, HCL approached the Vahi brothers for partnership.

“In a short span we became HCL’s top performing partner in the North. We introduced several new marketing concepts like monthly PC Carnivals. This increased sales and HCL became the number one PC brand in India,” claims Kamal.

The Vahi brothers remember their second PC Carnival very vividly. “A gentleman by the name of Abhishek Tewari purchased a laptop from us and we built a strong rapport with him. Little did we realize that he was the Director of a leading media and entertainment company, Century Communications. He liked our approach to serving customers so much that he decided to source all his company’s requirements from us. Within a year of meeting him, we sold 200 desktops and 10 servers to his company. Today, he is one of our most valued client, and over the last 10 years we have done a total business of Rs 40 crore with Century. One can say he introduced us to the world of corporate selling and systems integration,” says Sandeep.

However, in 1999, Compton entered a low phase when Vahi’s father was diagnosed with renal failure and put on dialysis. The duo scaled down the company’s growth plans in order to take care of him.

Compton’s fortunes turned in 2005 when the brothers started focusing on turnkey projects from SMBs. “After a lull of six years we decided to focus on the business with renewed vigor. We decided to touch Rs 10 crore in revenues by 2006. We started getting projects for end-to-end solutions for data centers and server rooms. And we surpassed the projected revenues to clock Rs 15 crore,” recollects Kamal.

One project closest to the brothers’ heart is one that Compton executed in FY2007-08 for Century Communications. “We deployed a rendering farm of 250 blade servers and 350 graphic workstations with scalable storage on a 10Gbps backbone. Blade servers meant lower real-estate costs, lower cooling and power needs, and overall savings. The project amounted to a total of Rs 20 crore,” says a proud Sandeep.

From that point, there was no looking back. The company recorded Rs 20 crore in revenues in FY2007-08, Rs 34.67 crore in FY2008-09 and Rs 59 crore in 2009-10.

Current business
In FY2010-11, Compton posted a turnover of Rs 74.8 crore, a growth of 27 percent over the previous fiscal. Of this, 55 percent came from media and entertainment, 20 percent from education and 10 percent from government. The rest was contributed by hospitality and retail.

Compton bagged several large projects during last fiscal. These included: a Rs 3-crore data center project for Hotel Crown Plaza in Delhi; Learning Management System (LMS) projects for Jamia Milia Islamia University and Agrasen Engineering College–each worth Rs 2.5 crore; and a Rs 2.5-crore data center project for BITS Pilani.

The company also deployed its own data center last year to host a virtual university for Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak. “We are now cloud-ready, as we have our own data center. The virtual university project was valued at Rs 5 crore and we are 80 percent ready. Students can have the feel of a university from the comfort of their home. They can search courses, check eligibility criteria, take admission and the entire course online by attending virtual classes. Even the certificates would be available online,” explains Kamal.

In the government sector, the company bagged many multi-crore infrastructure projects, including those from NHPC, the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences, and Telecommunications Consultants India Ltd (TCIL). “We are really proud of the TCIL project, which included setting up of tele-medicine centers across Saarc countries. Once fully implemented, this project will ensure that all the countries in the region will be able to share medical knowhow. Besides, the best doctors in India will be able to treat patients even in remote villages,” says Kamal.

In terms of size, Compton is today a 260-employee organization with a 8,500 sq ft head office in Delhi and two more offices in the city. It also has a presence in Chennai, Lucknow, Mumbai and Kolkata.

Future prospects
Compton targets revenue of Rs 300 crore by 2015 and will focus primarily on providing innovative solutions to the media and entertainment, education and retail segments.

“We have been specializing in providing mall management solutions and have deployed it for two malls in Jalandhar. The solution captures footfalls, movements of visitors to malls, their preferences, etc. Having deployed two projects, we will roll it out on a national level and we see significant opportunity,” says Kamal.

From this year onward, Compton will also focus on cloud computing and data storage. The company has developed and deployed an innovative solution for an Italian chain of restaurants. The application allows waiters to take orders on their PDAs and, through a server connected over a Wi-Fi network, passes those inputs simultaneously to the kitchen as well as the billing counter. Compton intends to take this solution to other restaurants in India as well.

Dual chemistry
One of the major success factors for Compton has been that there are well-defined roles for both the brothers. “Sandeep’s job is to drive growth of the sales team and closing large deals and thus keep the cash register ticking, while my role is to identify new technology areas that will bring value to our customers and drive vendor alliances. Also, I look after the service and support business, which is a profit center for us and not a cost center,” says Kamal.

In the words of Sandeep, Kamal’s strong logical thinking allows them tight control operational costs while providing technically sound solutions to their clients.

With a sharp focus on its technology niches and well-coordinated execution, Compton seems set to achieve its rather ambitious financial goals.

source : crn
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