At the time when the internet was a lesser known entity, accessible only to a small, opportune fraction of population in India, Siddharth Banerjee came up with an idea, years ahead of its advent – to integrate visual content over the internet and Virtual Reality for the process of corporate training – and founded Indusgeeks.
As they stand on the verge of reaching a decade-old mark, our team interviewed Siddharth, Indusgeeks CEO, to learn about this unique enterprise that is transforming the training experience across the world.
1. Tell us about your background before Indusgeeks. Share with us briefly about your entrepreneurial journey and inception of Indusgeeks.
It was 2006. I was pursuing my Chartered Accountancy course and interning at Deloitte. But I didn’t see myself practicing in the financial services industry. The Internet and technology were always the driving passions for me. So when a little known virtual world called Second Life burst onto the Internet scene in 2005-6, I decided to drop out of my Chartered Accountancy course and create Indusgeeks. We wanted to introduce Indian companies to the power of social, virtual worlds. This was before Facebook became big and in 2006 virtual worlds like Second Life seemed the natural culmination of Web 2.0.
I believed in a future where the Internet would be more than flat web pages and videos. I believed in a visual Internet where you could walk into a store or visit a friend and talk to them. Second Life provided that early vision but it was too early for its time. Back then, Virtual Reality technologies like the Oculus Rift were advancing at a rapid pace, I believed the time to be right for companies to invest in this visual Internet.
With this vision in my head, I got some money from family and friends and started Indusgeeks in early 2007.
2. What is Indusgeeks all about? Tell us in detail about the services offered.
Indusgeeks is a multi-award winning, game based & simulation based training company. We use immersive, gamified, Virtual Reality technologies to make enterprise training more effective and fun. As millennials come to dominate the workforce, legacy training and e-learning content is failing to meet their high standards. Enter Indusgeeks. We transform boring corporate training content – irrespective of industry vertical or business process – by using game-based training techniques and deliver it to all devices, including mobile phones/tablets, using our INIT platform. Training is fun and sticky again and our clients have a productive workforce.
Our customized learning solutions are cost efficient, LMS compatible and are designed for mobile, desktop & virtual reality devices.
Over the last 9 years, we’ve had the privilege of working with Fortune 1000 companies, defense organizations & governments worldwide to transform their training content into more gamified, interactive, immersive & narrative-driven experiences.
3. What is your competition in the market? What is it that sets you apart from your competition?
Companies like M-level, GameLearn and Axonify would be our competitions in the market worldwide. While most of these companies focus on simple games to provide gamified training, Indusgeeks’ approach is to transform corporate content, in addition to gamifying the training. We believe that mere gamification without creating compelling training content will not yield the right results. Once the learner is engaged with the training content they will be more open to training.
4. What is the business model of Indusgeeks? Can you briefly summarize the growth achieved in both volume and value from the day 1 till now?
Indusgeeks has a hybrid model for platform licensing and a one-time custom content creation services fee. Indusgeeks pivoted to this new business model in late 2014. Since then, the business has observed a 100% YoY growth.
5. How has been your beginner’s journey? What were the challenges you faced in setting up and scaling up your enterprise? Any hurdle that you faced or still facing?
Every entrepreneur starts with a grand vision. But it’s the day to day execution that presents the largest problems. In the beginning, we ran into cash flow issues, we learnt how to handle cash better. Currently, as an early stage growth company, we are facing challenges that come with explosive growth, both in scaling operations and finding the right talent. Different challenges are presented at different stages of the business and we will overcome this challenge as well.
6. Can you tell us about your other founders/core team, their background and rich experience?
My co-founder Ashima Misri and the current COO, joined Indusgeeks from day 1. She has an MBA in Operations from Welingkar’s institute of Management Studies, and also, a Masters from Mumbai University in Anthropology and did her Bachelor’s from St Xavier’s, Mumbai. She has 10 years of operational experience with us in the game-based training market and has handled multiple large Fortune 1000 clients.
Abhishek Vaidyanathan is our Technical Director and Project Lead. An MBA from MICA and an Engineer from SIES, he has 8 years of Game Development experience before he joined Indusgeeks 5 years ago. He manages the delivery side of the business and now has 13 years of experience in the gaming market.
7. How are you funded? Any early stage money/seed stage experience that you would like to share with us?
We raised money from family and friends when we started. Since then, Indusgeeks has been revenue funded. Whenever we raised money from family and friends, we treated it as a professional exercise and were very clear about the paperwork. We’ve never faced any problem on this account, since we paid attention to this at an early stage.
8. Any other areas or initiatives that you plan to venture in future?
I am fascinated by the potential of Virtual Reality in the entertainment and social networking space. Also, Space Tech remains an area of great interest.
9. What will Indusgeeks look like in 10 years from now? All perspectives – people, business, revenues, team, size or anything you foresee for the venture.
Our goal is to create a valuable enterprise that fundamentally disrupts how people of all ages train around the world. The world’s population will soon comprise of more than 50% people under the age of 35. There will be a massive requirement to train these young men and women so that they can be productive members of the society. Our current training infrastructure is failing these young people, especially in the poorer countries. In 10 years, Indusgeeks should scale up to be one of the largest training and skilling companies in the world and fulfill our mission of transforming the youth into productive members of our world.
10. Any school/ campus-connect initiatives that you are pursuing or plan to pursue?
We will soon start internship tie up programs for Game-Based Training Design with some of the institutions/ colleges, but it’s still in the exploratory stages.
11. Any experience or advice you would like to share with soon to be start-up founders out there?
Don’t start a company till you’ve slept over the idea for at least a few months and still feel passionately about it. Once you do, never give up. Persistence is the key to success in the entrepreneurial world.
Employing the idea of game-based training to produce more efficient workforce, while at the same time, making training a fun and interactive process, Indusgeeks is serving both ends of the ladder – the trainers and the trainee. We wish the Indusgeeks team a good luck in their endeavor.