IT’S CALL VA!

Nikhil Ballal

How can there be a call centre in
Kalwa?
MV-This is the first question that everyone
asks me. But it is there for last three years and
going strong.

How it was possible? How was your
childhood?
MV-I come from a very big family not in
terms of status but with respect to the
members and the values that were practiced.
I have three sisters whereas my father has
eight sisters. My father was working as an
engineer with Crompton and Greaves. We
knew he had a big responsibility on his
shoulder so we never made any fancy
demands. I was a mischievous student with lot
of curiosity. I always loved doing things by
my own. When I was once in seventh
standard I dismantled my bicycled and
assembled it.
Our father inculcated in us reading habits.
Reading has actually shaped my life and
molded my personality. Television box came
to our house only after my graduation. So, the
only source of entertainment was books and
magazines. I use to read illustrated weekly,
the Caravan, Reader’s Digest and many other
magazines which my father would get from his
office. I am a voracious reader. There is
hardly any English author in this world whose
work I haven’t read. I bet no one knows
Khushwant Singh better than me!
Our father use to play a game with us
where he would give us a particular situation
and ask us to write the way Pt. Jawarhlal
Nehru or Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan or any
other eminent author may have written it. It
was great fun!

How were your days after graduation?
MV-After completing my graduation in
Chemistry I joined a company as a MR(
Medical representative). I was super excited
as I was told that I would be an interface
between sales and research and
development wings. But my excitement didn’t
last long. After few months it became
monotonous and I did not find any charm in
the job. So, I joined Thermax.

When did you decide to become an
entrepreneur?
MV-After a tiring day at office we all
friends would catch up at Bazaar Peth (Jambli
Naka) in the night. Here we would see many
Gujrati Business men talking, discussing and
sharing their views and opinions. Those talks
influenced me to become a businessman.
When a friend told me that he was into bag
repair business I asked him to take me as his
partner. I started looking after the marketing
and production was taken care by him. I met
almost all the training institutes of Thane-
Mumbai and got their bag job. During those
days Aptech and NIIT bags were supplied by
us.

What happened to the bag business?
MV-After couple of years my partner left
and I dragged the business with my wife. But
unfortunately even I had to shut down the business                                                                                                                         on health grounds. I was nailed to the
bed for a year.

What did you do after recovery?
MV-After I recovered I started hunting for
a job. My wife too was searching one. One
day I accompanied her to a BPO (business
process outsourcing) called GTL. The
recruitment process was so tedious and
cumbersome that I got bored. I realised the
only way to while away some time was to get
into the recruitment process. So I gave
interview. To my surprise I was selected and
was given an offer letter. But I didn’t take up
the job, I applied in Reliance DAKC. I learnt
that BPO would be a booming industry and so
decided to get into this industry which was
then at nascent stage.

How were your days in Reliance DAKC?
MV-They were great. Within a span of a
year I learnt the tricks of trade. My inquisitive
nature taught me many things. Initially I was
called as a Fog Horn as I use to stammer while
attending calls but I improved myself. I
worked hard to get that accent and diction                                                                                                                                    which was required. After completing my
regular shift till 3 I use to voluntarily take up
next shift and handle it till 8. This was my
routine for many months.
While working as a MR I had gained deep
knowledge of pharmaceuticals and its industry.
One of my senior managers who knew my skill
asked me to join Gold Shield Call centre
which catered to pharmaceutical wholesalers.

How were the days in Gold Shield?
MV-I was reluctant to join Gold Shield as I
was working as an assistant manager in
Reliance and they were offering me a post of
an executive. But CEO of our company
Nandini Vaidyanathan assured me for a
promotion. She knew my potential and asked
me to remain in her constant contact. One of
my friends who were working in Narcotic
Department told me once that it is not
important what position you hold but in whose
company you are and whom you report. So, I
accepted the offer.
After few months they promoted me as a
Key account manager. We were handling
products of an England Wholesaler called                                                                                                                                Medihealth. We had to handle all the
pharmacists of UK. My reading habit and
exploring nature helped me transform my life
completely. One input to my client changed my
destiny.

What was that input?
MV-Majority of Pharmacists in UK are
Asians. I had developed an excellent rapport.
Apart from business I use to enquire about their
whereabouts which strengthened our relations
with them. One day one of them gave me an
important tip about a particular drug whose
cost was speculated to go down drastically
because as it was losing its patent. Thanks to my
reading habit and talking beyond business with
my sources, I had come across this valuable
piece of information. I immediately conveyed
this to my bosses. They didn’t trust me initially.
But later they did. We communicated it to our
wholesaler Medihealth. Yakub and Anwar Patel
who were heading this firm were surprised to
receive this piece of information. They were so
impressed that they called me to England. I
worked there for couple of days and provided
them some vital information.
Due to competition they felt of having their
own call centre. They were so confident of my
knowledge and selling ability that they asked
me to look after their call centre in India. I
looked after this call centre Prominent solutions
in Andheri as a senior manager. My outstanding
performance prompted them to take me as a
partner. It was dream come true! I started
earning handsomely.
But I always wanted something of my own
and so I told Patels that I will keep working in
Andheri call centre but want to start of my own
in Kalwa. They agreed to support me. So I
started Kent Technology Pvt Ltd.

How were the initial days?
MV-I wanted to play safe so to avoid
expenses started operating a call centre from
my bedroom of my house in Kalwa. We were
only a team of three who looked after the price
analysis, inventory management and products of
pharmaceutical companies. After a couple of
months I decided to invest all my life earnings
and bought this huge place. It was a risk! Today
after three years the business has grown
exponentially and team has grown from three to
forty. We handle Day Louis’s back office which
is a parent company of Medihealth.

How tough it is to operate in Kalwa?
MV-It is hard to believe for many that there
is a BPO in Kalwa but today we are the only
international BPO in Thane. Frequent power cuts
and poor inter connectivity were the major
hurdles. But by His blessings today we have
overcome all possible obstacles and operating
it successfully. I recruit all local people. Today
my team comprises of all local people from
Kalwa-Mumbra-Diva and Dombivli. I have
trained them and they are doing quite well. I
want to appeal to all the job seekers that
instead of travelling to Mumbai all the way,
come to us we will provide you with a job
opportunity with a pay scale equivalent to any
BPO of Mumbai.

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