Dream It! Do It! Think Big, Start Small! – Nirmal Kumar, G-Auto, transforming INDIA!

I came across the latest endeavor of G-Auto, launch of its auto-rickshaw service in Rajkot recently. Nirmal’s endeavor that started in 2009, slowly and steadily is transforming the nation through sustainable, friendly and secure transportation service. You will soon see the impact of his endeavor in your city or town too, wherever you are in India.

I have been following Nirmal ever since he started G-Auto over four years ago in Ahmedabad. Nirmal happens to be an inspiration and a good friend too. It is all the more motivating since he has been a student of Career Launcher in Hyderabad, before he headed to do his B-school education at IIMA. Every teacher and mentor will always be delighted to see his mentee outperform himself. Salute you Nirmal!

It is a moment of pride to see the mentee outperform the mentor, especially in an endeavor of PUBLIC GOOD! Salute you Nirmal!

It is a moment of pride to see the mentee outperform the mentor, especially in an endeavor of PUBLIC GOOD! Salute you Nirmal! Photo taken on the day of inauguration of Airport Express Service at Ahmedabad Airport.

I have been using Nirmal’s story along with many other stories in one of my hugely popular motivational talks – THINK BIG, START SMALL! – to goad youngsters, especially B-School grads, to become entrepreneurial leaders. You can find the earliest version of the talk on this very website – Think Big, Start Small!

From all my research on the web and personal interaction with Nirmal, that have yielded enough data and information, I am briefly sharing the story to inspire myself and you too.

Nirmal, born in a humble farming family, in the hinterland of Bihar has been afflicted by polio at the age of three. He has done his schooling from the village school in the Hindi medium. His first brush with the alphabets of English happened when he moved to Patna after class 10, for want of better education, that his parents saw as only salvation from the hardships and vagaries of being a marginal farmer.

Since he was from a farming background, he perhaps felt or was mentored to go for higher education in Agriculture. Through the national entrance exam for agricultural universities, he got selected into N G Ranga Agricultural University, Hyderabad. This was his first move to outside Bihar. It was a struggle initially, especially with the language, English, in understanding and speaking. This made him create a club, Phoenix, at the university to help himself and others like him, to master English language. He managed to convince his fellow students, who are good in English, to take classes on spoken and written English. His journey of Entrepreneurial Leadership began in this act.

When in the pre-final year, got to know about, Business School education and CAT, and the prospects of having a secure and respectful job prospect, if he goes into one of the IIMs. He worked hard, gave everything to get into IIMs. He eventually made it to IIMA.

Nirmal, one who got into IIMA with a dream of getting a respectful corporate career, had a life-changing experience when he had to deal with a rude auto rickshaw driver in his second year at IIMA. This set his thought process rolling. “Why cannot we have a safe, secure, comfortable and delightful public transportation. Why not world-class Tuk Tuk Service!”

Auto Drivers to turn into city’s ambassadors

He went into his introspection and brainstorming mode to come out with an Auto Rickshaw service, and named it G-Auto. He went about talking to the Auto Rickshaw drivers and their unions to convince them to join G-Auto. After a lot of interactions, a handful joined his endeavor. He ran the service for a few months that made him polish the concept and with the leap of faith, sought an appointment with the chief-minister of Gujarat, Mr. Narendra Modi. Finally, his presentation to Mr Modi convinced the CM to add his government’s weight behind Nirmal’s dream. Nirmal convinced the CM to official inaugurate the service, and I suppose it was done with a drive to his office from home, escorted by Nirmal. This small gesture of the CM, was widely published in all media, an in no time more Auto Rickshaw drivers started looking at G-Auto as the god send. The numbers started swelling. From a couple of hundreds the numbers today exceed 15,ooo across cities of Ahmedabad, Gandhi Nagar, Vadodara and now Rajkot.

Some time in 2010, I happen to land at the Ahmedabad Airport and noticed an A4 sheet on the pillar next to the luggage belt announcing the launch of “G-Auto Airport Express Service,” the very day. I quickly lifted my luggage and headed out looking for the G-Auto booth only to be confronted by the other auto rickshaw-drivers who were blocking my way towards the G-Auto cabin, casting all kinds of aspersions. Later, Nirmal shared about the challenges of dealing with the unruly drivers and unions that at times even endangered his life. I have been using G-Auto ever since it has been launched, whenever I am in Gujarat.

What is so special about this Auto Rickshaw service –

For the Customer :

Drivers are trained in English and Hindi to interact, also trained to provide customer delight. They also are taken sessions on the heritage of the city to make them into heritage ambassadors. What more you can ask for than a friendly advise from the auto driver the moment you land in the city, on everything that you can imagine about the city.

G-Autos have News Papers/Mags, Mobile chargers, PCO, and water, above all safety and security with a contact number for immediate action on any complaints. The 24×7 call centre takes care of all your needs of transportation by Auto now. Children and women can move around anytime of the day and night without any alarm. You get the receipt for your payments with all details and numbers whenever you board a G-Auto. The Pilot insists on your taking the receipt!

For the Auto-rickshaw driver, called PILOT in G-Auto :

Drivers have insurance cover – both accidental and life, child-education loan and other loans, addition revenue streams from PCO, selling newspapers and mags etc. More importantly gave them security, dignity along with prosperity. The brand value now rubs onto the image of the PILOT. He now proudly says “I am with G-Auto”.

Recently, after spate of highly publicized cases of harassment and rape of women, Delhi government has thought of doing something more to its public transportation system, especially Auto service. Nirmal Foundation after its presentation has been short-listed to provide services in the Capital. Soon you will see G-Auto enthralling the Delhi commuters too!

How does the business of “Auto Service” look like? The numbers story!

Now if you are keen on looking at the potential, here are the numbers, my back of the envelope calculations..

– Every time you hire G-Auto, G-Auto for its world-class secure services, charges Rs 20/- as service charges, over and above the meter reading. Even after paying this amount your bill will be far lesser than what otherwise the auto rickshaws fleece.

– Now, an Auto plies on the streets for no less than 10-12 hours. Even if I conservatively say, it services 10 customers in a day. It amounts to Rs. 200/- Nirmal foundation earns from every auto every day.

– For an estimated 15,000 auto rickshaws that ply on the roads under G-Auto, the collections is 15,000 * 200 every day. That amounts 30 lacs a day!

– Nirmal’s target is to create 10 Lakh auto rickshaw power by 2020!

– Does that end there? No. Since G-AUto has become a reliable and security giving brand, every company wants to associate and reach out to the end-customer. Nirmal now gets various services, like the Airport express service, branded. It was called ‘State Bank of India – Airport express service’, if I remember correctly when I got into the G-Auto from Airport on that day in 2010. The announcement inside the Auto said, “Welcome to State Bank of India, world-class G-Auto service”. The Auto becomes a great space to engage with your prospective customer with all the collaterals like brochures and leaflets thrown into the beautifully styled auto. Every such deal is going to fetch a few lakhs every month. And many such sponsors are queing up to create a multi-crore stream there. Nirmal shared, “Now my work has become more of networking business that adds immense value to every partner who partners with us.”

Are you ready to take the charge of your own life and that of your city? Nirmal is here to help you take the leap!

I will not be surprised if G-Auto makes about Rs. 100-120 Crores a year for Nirmal Foundation. This has helped Nirmal to venture into many more social transformation projects like — ‘CoCoFresh’ to help street hawkers, ‘Umeed’ for skills education of urban marginal youth, ‘Nirmaljobs’ for deploying all the trained youth into gainful jobs. I can visualize a grand transformational NIRMAL FOUNDATION spanning the entire country in the years to come.

In fact, Nirmal, a couple of years ago, asked me whether I know of young, dynamic entrepreneurial youngsters who want to take G-Auto endeavor to their own cities. I have been sharing this possibility with youth in every city that I do my sessions in, challenging youngsters to jump at the opportunity to impact themselves and also their own city, in every way. Are you ready for the game? If so, write to me sreeni@careerlauncher.com or go to http://www.g-auto.org and write to Nirmal directly


B-school grads growing @ scorching pace in young and fast growing companies!

An article written for media, that was asked off me. I am not sure when it will be published, but I have done it here…

India as a nation has progressed leaps and bounds since the commencement of economic liberalization in 1991. Today we are eleventh largest in the world in nominal GDP and fourth by Purchasing Power Parity at exchange rates. If you look at these two decades of economic growth, it has been, solely, due to the rise of various entrepreneurial endeavors in this country, primarily in the services sector and especially in IT and ITeS sectors including BPO, and to some extent in the manufacturing sectors of pharma, biotechnology and automobile.

In the IT sector, though a TCS, an Infosys or Wipro have been in existence even prior to liberalization, they took off vertically since the 1990s with ITeS and BPO dimensions adding up. But the real contributor for the scorching growth in this sector was large number of start-ups that happened post liberalization in the last two decades adding to the numbers of Indian multinationals!

With over half of the population still employed in the agricultural sector and about 80 percent of the economy still being unorganized, the potential untapped in India is huge. The entrepreneurial zeal that has steamrolled the services space of IT and ITeS in the last two decades, has already started showing its impact on other spaces like financial, real estate, education sectors, and there is a renewed interest in the MSME (micro, small and medium enterprises).

Scorching pace of India’s economic growth forecasts the nation reaching second position in the world, vis-à-vis GDP by 2050. To make it happen, the progress has to be across the economy, that will impact per capita front too, pulling it up from the current 127th position. We need to create over 100 million jobs. If I were to quote Mukesh Ambani, “about 20 million jobs will get created every year for a decade or two.” Where will it be? Certainly not in the large corporate, but thousands of MSME. The next two decades will be decades of entrepreneurial leadership in this country.

What do all these amount to, for a B-School graduate?

Most of the B-school graduates neither have an idea when entering the B-school, nor when they pass out, what their goal is and where their future could lie. They get into an MBA, because they heard that the ‘life-after’ is secure with a handsome salary! They only think of joining a Hindustan Unilever, P&G, Citibank or Reliance. Many do join them but get disillusioned very soon with their days starting at six in the morning and ending at eleven at night, especially if one is in a large metro, with recognition hardly to come by.

The economic meltdown of 2009 did change the perspective a bit, when many failed to get the jobs, forget about jobs with ‘BIG’ bucks or Big Brands! With no choice, quite a few opted for the young and fast growing companies and are sticking to these, realizing how the prospects are far brighter in these companies. With the same amount of effort they might have had to put in at larger organizations, the recognitions came flying faster and the jumps come quicker in these young companies, the moves have been very minimal.

Being a B-school graduate myself, an alumnus of IIM Bangalore, when I look at the last two decades of the progress many a friend of mine has made, there is no question that the future of the nation and also the future of management graduates lie in the young and fast growing companies. Quite a few of these companies, that are making waves in the services, financial or even manufacturing spaces in the last decade, have been started by youngsters and experienced alike, with a compulsive vision and they managed to attracted quite a few of their friends to partner in their dreams and partake in the growth. Many quit large corporate, even from abroad, and moved to these fast pacing enterprises.

For every listed fast growing company that has been founded in the last fifteen years like – IndiaBulls, InfoEdge(Naukri), Educomp, MakeMyTrip etc. – there are many unlisted ones like NetAmbit, Career Launcher, Valuefirst, The Smart Cube, Candid Marketing and many more even younger enterprises that are being toasted by their customers and the market alike. They are showing high double, if not three digit growths, unlike the large corporate who are moving at a low double or even single digit growth. These organizations have a great appetite for growth and are still in the early stages of their upward curve, as their services are catering to huge mass markets with compelling value for large population. These fast growing companies seek entrepreneurial leadership material to hire, not limited to B-school graduates.

When I talk about entrepreneurial leadership, I am not limiting to entrepreneurship. Yes, certainly I will talk about being an entrepreneur in a while, but even to excel in other enterprises – like the larger ones or the aforementioned fast growing ones – you need to be entrepreneurial in thinking and also in acting, especially in the current competitive scenario. You will be notice, and you will be in demand.

Entrepreneurial leaders are transformational and they relentlessly pursue their infinite potential. Typical traits include –
– Ambitious and often first movers
– Keen eye for opportunities
– Challenge conventional thinking
– Shift paradigms; create new insights
– Healthy appetite for risk
– Relentlessly push the boundaries of possibilities
– Assume full responsibility of outcomes
– Change the rules of the game
– Conscious of their role for the betterment of the society

If one is entrepreneurial, in the young companies that are nimble-footed, one gets integrated soon, gets greater responsibility, freedom and accountability. One has the entire canvas to himself to paint, and the painting gets recognized pretty soon. The ladders are drawn for one to climb quick and take higher roles.
As an entrepreneur myself for a little over a decade, especially one who has been into education and in particular helping B-school aspirants, I have been following the stories of those who have been excelling in the entrepreneurial arena and also mentoring many youngsters who are entrepreneurial leadership material. I do get invited to speak at various forums, including leading B-Schools, to push the young graduates to think big. My annual lecture series – Dream It! Do It! and Think Big! Start Small! have been much sought after and I travel across the length and breadth of the country addressing 20-30 thousand youth every year.

There is no question that the future lies here, is amplified by movements like The Indus Entrepeneurs (TIE) and National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN), promoted by the ‘whose who’ of Indian Business, that are engaging B-schools, university campuses and even K-12 school students. During the last three months, Indus World School of Business (IWSB), a B-school that has made name in fostering entrepreneurial leadership, has been proactively supporting an endeavour of TIE in running a programme, TIE Young Entrepreneur (TYE) for school students of grades 9-12. So the nation is catching them young!

We have many an example in – JUMBOKING Vadapau by Dheeraj Gupta in Mumbai; FOODKING by Sarath Babu in Chennai, Saloni’s DESICREW in Tamilnad, Nirmal Kumar’s G-AUTO in Gujarat, Shweta Chari’s TOYBANK in Mumbai, Kaushalendra’s SAMRIDHI in Bihar, Ishita Khanna’s ECOSPHERE in Spiti, Prashant’s BAMBOO HOUSE in Hyderabad, Rajeev Kher’s SHRAMIK SANITATION in pune, Jaydeep’s RENAINSSANCE AAKAR Ventures in Delhi, Vipresh’s BHAGWATI HERBAL in Aligarh – most of them are endeavours of B-school graduates, that have commenced their operations in the last few years and are leaving a mark on the firmament of the nation. The endeavours such as these that are going to leave a lasting imprint need entrepreneurial leaders to take them to the next orbit.

Let me give a couple of examples. Arif Hassan, of class of 2010, IWSB, joined a young fast growing NETTPOSITIVE in Bangalore, a business analytics firm, promoted by an IIM Alum. Arif, within a couple of months of joining, has been given responsibility of a revenue center – India operations of a Swedish client in m-commerce and mobile payment services. Rajeev Kher of SHRAMIK SANITATION, that is producing portable toilet solutions to help half of the Indian population that is not having access to toilets, is always on look out for entrepreneurial B-school graduates. Asad Akbar, another class 2010 pass out, says that his decision of joining young setup like CORETREE in Hyderabad, is paying rich dividends, in the sense that he has been entrusted with higher responsibilities and freedom to add value to the organization by being part of core teams.

Do the remunerations stay behind for taking greater responsibilities? No, never. IWSB, a B-school, which focuses on placing students in the young and fast growing companies, in its maiden placement season has notched a respectable average salary for its class of 2010, at Rs. 5.64 lakhs per annum and got placed among the top-10 B-schools in the country on return on investment – average salary upon fees paid. That shows where the future lies.

In this last decade alone, the emergence of young entrepreneurs and their contribution to the national economy is quite visible in India. This trend is here to stay. If you are B-school student or for that matter any one, and have a desire to excel, desire to take greater responsibilities and grow faster in life in every sense – learning, materialistic, financially, spiritually – the best place to start your journey now is in the young and fast growing companies. Who knows from taking the challenges that go with such growth centric organizations, you may learn so much in quick time that, you may even wish to start something of your own. That is always a welcome move for you and for the nation too. Jump into this ocean. I am sure even before you realize, you will be swimming quickly and may go on to create your own world, that the world will be very proud of!

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