Monday, August 31, 2015

Yalamanchili Shiva Santosh Kumar bags 23 medals in Law course at NLSIU

Bangalore: Yalamanchili Shiva Santosh Kumar, (23), bagged 23 medals including 14 golds at the 23rd Annual Convo-cation of the National Law School of India University at Nagarbhavi on Sunday. The Chief Justice of India, HL Dattu - the NLSIU chancellor, presided over the event. Other dignitaries included DV Sadananda Gowda, union minister of law and justice, and judges from the SC. Said Kumar, 

"I see law as a great equalizer, a tool to change society and a tool to turn the society into more right-conscious society." He said his area of interest was to ensure access to social, political and economic justice.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Bonsoul: Successful startup by an young entrepreneur

People are often fickle about the choices they make and the places they visit, especially when it’s something related to their well-being. Many of us spend hours trying to search for the perfect place to get a haircut or that wonderful spa which helps us relax. In order to simplify this process for people and save them the trouble is Bonsoul, India’s first online network of spas and salons.

Started by Alekhya Nadendla in June 2014, Bonsoul currently operates in seven cities. While the office is based in Hyderabad, Bonsoul also offers its services in Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Pune. “We are a platform for any form of wellness centres and we make it easier for the customers to find something regarding fitness, relaxation or beauty, like a spa or a salon,” says Nadendla.

With the prominence of the Internet among the general public today, one can easily search for a location of any spa or a fitness centre by typing the name of their area on portals like JustDial. But Bonsoul has more to offer. “What we offer is something more in-depth. We provide the menu of the spas and salons, we inform customers about what classes are going on at a fitness centre and its timings, what sort of membership is available at a gym, etc. We also mention the prices with the consent of the spa and salon owners,” explains Nadendla on what makes Bonsoul stand out from the rest.

They may provide details of different wellness centres across the country but Bonsoul filters the best from the rest. Taking us through the process, Nadendla says, “We conduct thorough background checks and we don’t sign up any and everyone. There are certain standards that we follow. We do a lot of research initially, zero in on the places we want and then go ahead and speak to the owners. We take pictures of the place, menu and their contact details, apart from their complete consent, before putting it up on the website.”

Apart from helping people locate the best spas and fitness centres, it also provides a booking system, so that customers can be spared the hassle of the process. “We have a very simplified booking system where you can just go online and book a spa, fitness or beauty service and we confirm it through an SMS,” says Nadendla.

The 27-year-old who is from Hyderabad had worked in Miami, the US, for eight months as an interior designer before she returned to work in her father’s manufacturing company, Peace India Ltd., in Hyderabad. However, being an independent woman, she soon decided to start her own company and Bonsoul was conceived. Why did she choose to do so? Nadendla replies, “During my extensive travels, I find it very difficult to find a place for a hair cut or a beauty salon. Normally I have to depend on word-of-mouth, and even then you don’t really know who’s giving you the best information about any place, what’s available in it and what’s not. That is when I decided to start Bonsoul.”

Another advantage that Bonsoul offers is that once a customer subscribes with it, they are assured of acquiring its services in any city where it’s present. “If a customer, who is signed up with Bonsoul, travels to another city and wants to join a gym, we will talk to the gym and we will do all their work. We tell them that if they are a member of our network, they are a member of all the gyms in India,” quips the  .

Like every start-ups, Bonsoul too faced its fair share of obstacles and Nadendla admits that they encountered quite a few difficulties initially. “There were a lot of skeptics and it takes time to convince anybody who is new to online booking. A lot of owners used to tell us that they already have a marketing team and they do not need our help. Initially, it was difficult to start up everything in Hyderabad but once we started, it became slightly easier to convince people to book using our website in Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune,” she explains.

Even though they have plans of expanding, she says there is no chance of compromising on their quality of service. “We make sure we do our research. We have appointed interns in every city to go and check everything on behalf of us to find out what sort of standard they belong to. Only when we are convinced of the quality, do we put it up on our website,” Nadendla adds.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Gopichand Katragadda to head innovation at Tata group

MUMBAI: Tata Sons is handing over the reins of its almost decade-old Innovation Group to its technology head Gopichand Katragadda. The 147-year-old business house under chairman Cyrus Mistry is pushing for innovation across their 120 companies and this move will marry technology, digital and innovation under one man. 

The conglomerate started Tata Group Innovation Forum (TGIF) in 2007 and the goal was to incubate ideas and encourage all their companies to develop the latest technology that will propel businesses. R Gopalakrishnan, director Tata Sons, was heading TGIF from the start but will retire this year end. Handing over the baton to Katragadda makes the former GE veteran and Tata Group's first CTO a key decision maker on what is expected from the group that clocked an annual revenue of $108.78 billion. 

"They are bringing it under Katragadda because the idea is to streamline it. People from the Innovation Group will start reporting to him. So far if you look at it, the innovation activities are not very well spread across companies. It is very focused in companies like TCS, Tata Elxsi. The idea is to bring in innovation in all companies and make new industry leaders in new sectors," said a consultant who did not wish to be named. 

In his calls, Katragadda will get help from an executive committee that has an eclectic team of top executives of the conglomerate. They include the group executive council members of Tata Sons — Mukund Rajan, Nirmalaya Kumar, Harish Bhatt; Ananth Krishnan (CTO of TCS) amongst others. 

A Tata Sons' spokesperson confirmed the development. "Gopalakrishnan has now given charge of TGIF to Gopichand Katragadda, Chief Technology Officer of Tata Sons. Managers, who implement TGIF activities,will be members of Katragadda's team." 

Katragadda has identified areas where he believes the group should focus on. "It is critical to figure out the disruption that can be caused by commercial drones, aggregator apps, genetic compilers, digital assistants and immersive entertainment in our businesses. It would be better to utilise these technologies to drive profitable growth," Katragadda said in the July edition of the group's magazine Tata Review. 

ManageMySpa Secures Rs.38 crores From Accel Partners in Series A Funding

Hyderabad-based ManageMySpa, a provider of mobile and cloud-based business management software for the beauty and wellness industry announced that it had raised $6 million (roughly Rs. 38 crores) in a Series A financing round led by Accel Partners. 

Founded in 2010 by Sudheer Koneru and Dheeraj Koneru, the company has offices in seven countries and is head quartered in Seattle, with a customer base in 30 countries. ManageMySpa has seen a double-fold growth year-on-year since inception, and intends to use the funds to accelerate its sales and marketing efforts, and expand its mobile product offering, the company said in a statement. 

ManageMySpa's cross-platform SaaS solution can be used to manage all operational aspects of the spa and salon business, including online booking, appointment management, POS, CRM, staff management, inventory controls, marketing, and analytics. The company offers solutions for both small business owners and large enterprises with multi-location chains with hundreds of outlets. 

"We believe that ManageMySpa is at a pivotal point in its growth trajectory and has all the competencies to become the leader in its space. We're excited about the momentum the company has experienced so far and the growth of the wellness industry globally." said Shekhar Kirani of Accel Partners, who will join the ManageMySpa board of directors.

"We're able to meet the needs for the beauty and wellness industry , which is a need that has not been addressed by any other player in the market. We have a proven product that scales for large businesses and have been able to dominate multiple markets." said Sudheer Koneru, ManageMySpa CEO and Founder. 

According to the company, its clients in India include Kaya Skin, Enrich Salons, O2 Spas, and Blush Clinics. Globally, its large enterprise clients include Massage Green and La Vida in the US; ElemisSpas in the UK; Martha Tillar in Indonesia; Hair Free and Results Laser Clinic in Australia; Tips & Toes, Hello Kitty,and The Grooming Company in the Middle East.

2 Kamma Corporators elected to BBMP (Bangalore Municipal Corporation)

2 Kamma Corporators elected for BBMP (Bangalore Municipal Corporation)

1) R Govinda Naidu (BJP) from Jayanagar East (Sitting corporator)
2) Supriya Shekhar (BJP) from Chikkalasandra

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Power Mech Projects: The Engineering Hub

In the last two years, the Hyderabad-based company has achieved exceptional scale in the business of setting up plants for India's power companies.

The first step of setting up a plant is the most arduous for any power company. It requires intense engineering expertise which is often in short supply—and also proves expensive to acquire and retain. The simpler option is to outsource the heavy-lifting: Enter Power Mech Projects, a Hyderabad-based company, which spotted this opportunity back in 1999. 

Having overcome the hurdles of bank financing and talent, it has now become one of the few players to achieve scale in this business. With a consistent growth of about 15 percent annually, Power Mech boasts a list of marquee private players—Tata Power, Adani Power and Jindal Power to name a few—as well as public sector power producers such as NTPC. 

2013 has been one of Power Mech’s busiest years: It built, tested and commissioned projects for a cumulative capacity of 40,000 MW across India. It also erected 65 boilers and 80 turbines during the period. And, in the process, it crossed Rs 1,000 crore in revenues for the first time.

The man behind it
Entering this industry is not for the weak-hearted. Sajja Kishore Babu (Chairman and MD), however, was confident when he took the call to set up Power Mech. After all, he had spent the first 14 years of his career in an engineering company, Indwell Construction, where, at the age of 28, he was part of a team that helped set up power plants. He rose up the company’s ranks to additional managing director and, later, to joint MD. That was when Babu decided to branch out on his own. 

As he saw it, he was the driving force behind the company’s success and had, over the years, built strong associations with NTPC and BHEL, a power plant equipment manufacturing and engineering PSU. “Why not do it for myself I thought,” says Babu, now 49. Within a year of his quitting Indwell, he had tapped into his extensive network and founded Power Mech. 

Babu’s personal touch and execution skills have resulted in his company gaining contracts from several large power producers in India. His colleagues describe him as someone who is relationship-oriented. “Once he sees someone, he does not forget the face,” says an employee at Power Mech. 

The company had a modest start in 1999 with a maintenance job at Tata Power’s plant at Trombay in Mumbai. “They knew me, and that is how I got the job,” says Babu. 

In its first year, Power Mech generated revenues of Rs 5 crore; this helped him get the bank guarantees necessary to start offering construction services that included erecting boilers, turbines and other machinery. A year later, BHEL also registered Power Mech as a contractor and the company began to get a steady stream of projects. 

Power Mech has now been in the business for 15 years. It has acquired a high-profile and large customer base. These relationships are not easy to replicate, and managing them are a particular strength of Babu’s. Also, now that it has strong ties with these companies, it has started to get maintenance jobs as well. Unlike construction contracts, these are annuity businesses with 3-5-year-long contracts and Ebidta margins of 20-22 percent. This ensures a steady stream of revenue for Power Mech. 

Most significantly, while several companies have reached the Rs 50 crore-level, few have managed to break out to this extent. With revenues of Rs 1,196 crore, Power Mech is an exception. In fact, the buoyancy of the last two years has led Bapu to up the sales target to Rs 1,650 crore by 2016. A listing by March 2015 is also being discussed. 

While Power Mech’s current numbers may be impressive, it took Babu 15 years to achieve scale and get private equity players interested in the business. It was only in 2009 that Motilal Oswal Private Equity took note of it and invested Rs 40 crore for an undisclosed stake. Further, despite its obvious relevance—and the fact that it plays a role in keeping our lights on—Power Mech’s work with power plants is not a consumer-facing business.

BITS Pilani appoints Vajja Sambasiva Rao as acting vice chancellor

PILANI: BITS Pilani has announced the joining of Vajja Sambasiva Rao as the acting vice chancellor of the Pilani campus on Saturday. He took charge from Bijendra Nath Jain, who completed his five-years tenure as the vice chancellor of the institute. A farewell function was organized for Jain as tribute for his contribution towards BITS Pilani. 

After accepting the role of vice chancellor in 2010, Jain had made prolific and sustained contributions to teaching and research at the institute. His administrative acumen has been showcased through the multi-campus structure he provided for the smooth functioning of the university. 

Addressing the audience during his farewell, Jain said, "BITS Pilani is committed to both quality and expansion. This commitment to transparency and stress on equal opportunity has been a key contributing factor behind its emergence as an institute of national repute." 

On taking up the new role, Vajja Sambasiva Rao said, "This institute is very much on the path of excellence with its established values. I would like to march along with my colleagues in continuing the journey and reaching new heights. Along with our deeper and committed industry engagement, we will continue to lay emphasis on teaching, research, innovation and entrepreneurship." 

Rao has been associated with BITS Pilani for over four decades in various capacities such as Dean Practice School, deputy director off-campus programmes and director, BITS Pilani, Hyderabad campus. As a director, Rao established BITS Pilani's Hyderabad campus in a sprawling 200 acres of land making it fully residential - accommodating over 3,200 students and 160 faculty members.He is a member of many professional and research bodies such as CII, FICCI State Councils, Telangana Academy for Skill and Knowledge (TASK), Institute of Public Health, Research Advisory Committee of SHARE INDIA and Mediciti Institute of Medical Sciences.