Naresh Gulati, 39 years old, used to sell decorative candles to the newly wed couples along the roadside in Chandigarh. He was never interested in studies and always wanted to do something of his own. Today, he is the owner of the ` 440-crore Oceanic Consultants Australia Group (OCA Group). He tried many businesses, starting from selling candles to wholesale cloth trading to cosmetics wholesale and teaching at Aptech Computers to running a computer centre, and has finally settled down on overseas education consultancy business. Although Gulati flunked in Class 10 and performed miserably in college, he is now a guest lecturer on entrepreneurship in leading Australian universities and inspires budding entrepreneurs. He did his diploma in electronic data processing and went to RMIT, Melbourne, in 1995 for a postgraduate course in information systems. However, destiny had something else in store for him. ‘When I reached there, I realized that I had been duped. I was promised a job in Melbourne by my immigration consultant, and that would have helped me clear the loan that I took for going overseas,’ recalls Gulati. For the next six months, he came in touch with several students who had met the same fate. And this made him think about a fantastic business opportunity— immigration consultancy business. Gulati came back to Chandigarh in 1996 and started Oceanic Consultants. Chandigarh had over 110 such agencies at that time, and he was discouraged by many not to enter into this business. ‘There was a time when I had to choose between two options—paying the rent or using that money for advertising. I chose the latter and the risk paid off.’ In three years, Oceanic Consultants had opened branches in Ludhiana, Patiala, Jallandhar and Amritsar. However, the franchise model was not sustainable as quality was getting affected and people were not interested in investing money. Moreover, established players such as Study Overseas and IBP Education created a dent in whatever little marketing that Oceanic did. Oceanic Consultants then zeroed in on company-owned office model. And this decision yielded results. Oceanic now has 20 offices across India and plans to take the count to 60 by 2013. The company opened its first office abroad in Australia a decade back and an office in the United Kingdom in 2010. The company has plans to have their presence in the United States and Canada by the end of 2011. The promoter visualized another opportunity in printing and distribution particularly for the university segments. It developed a new technology for the same in the year 2005 that enabled institutions to put up online orders of prospectus printing, postage and tracking from India to anywhere in the world. This outsourcing facility resulted in substantial savings in the range of 25 to 65 per cent of their profits which just involved an investment in starting a BPO intelligence to the tune of just A$1,000. Within a period of years, BPO Intelligence became one of the leading companies in Australia with 29 of the 39 universities using its services. The next year the company came out with another idea on software solutions for the education industry that led to the formation of Object Next Software with an investment of A$5 million. The corporate restructuring of the company in 2007 resulted in OCA Group becoming the parent company of Oceanic Consultants, BPO Intelligence and Object Next, located in Australia. These three companies have been winning Australian Business Awards every year since 2008. In 2011, Oceanic Consultants won the Australian Business Award for best enterprise in personal services industry. Object Next had won the award for best new product, and BPO Intelligence had won the award in two categories—product value and product excellence. The Fairfax Media Group’s Business Review Weekly ranked BPO Intelligence as the 12th fastest growing company in Australia this year, up from 93rd in 2008. Today, it contributes to more than 30 to 40 per cent of the group’s total revenue of A$ 20 million. To make the Oceanic Consultants meaner and leaner, Gulati brought in Price waterhouse Coopers last year to do a performance management of the entire system, and at the same time added a virtual private network connecting all its offices across different countries. ‘The demand for quality education and a global qualification is high in India. We plan to capitalize on this demand and become a global player, enabling admissions from any place to any place in the world. We’re investing heavily into technology, which would allow us to hold global webinars providing virtual access to everyone,’ adds Naresh Gulati.
1. What has been the secret of success of Naresh Gulati?
2. What are the key traits visible in Naresh’s personality that led to his success?
3. Naresh had changed a number of businesses before settling down with a business. Is it advisable to keep changing businesses?