The challenges are inherent in the dynamic nature of entrepreneurship and

play a crucial role in shaping an entrepreneur’s path to sustainability.

                                   M.V.Ravikumar (b.1950) former Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurship is not something that everyone does, but a lot of people desire to. The idea of being an entrepreneur sounds fantastic since it implies that one can be his / her own boss, be creative, and have several opportunities to flourish.

Having born in a middle-class and conservative family, when I joined Indian Telephone Industries Limited (ITI) after graduation, I had never imagined that one day I may quit the secured Public-sector job to become an entrepreneur. The evolving market environment in India for electronic products and associated components during early 1980s and the confidence that I had gained over three years as part-time entrepreneur perhaps motivated me to become one.

As soon as I joined U.V.Circuits in April 1985, one more Printed Circuit Board (PCB) manufacturing facility was added to meet the increasing demand. Another separate Machinery division to manufacture various machines that were needed to make single-sided and double-sided PCBs also was established. Naturally this resulted in hiring more people and borrowing more money from State Finance Corporation for capital equipment and bank for working capital requirements. As these jobs were relatively new for me, I took them up with great enthusiasm.

To increase sales of newly established Machinery division, we developed a package of five equipments that are essential to make single sided PCBs along with required consumables for six months at an affordable price, mainly to focus on engineering colleges that offered Instrumentation course. As per the University guidelines such colleges must have a PCB Laboratory. Apart from this I had also developed a comprehensive Project Report for those entrepreneurs who aspired to establish small PCB plant, so that they can seek loans from State Finance Corporation / banks under government schemes. Thus, with the added PCB production facility and establishment of independent machinery division, sales tripled in less than two years’ time.

The raw material for making PCB – copper-clad laminate, was being imported and we were buying it from the Indian agent of a Taiwanese company. I decided to import it directly from the company to save about 30% of the cost. But this required a special permission from the department of Industry and Commerce of the State government to endorse that we are registered as PCB manufacturing unit under Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SME) category, apart from raising additional working capital and obtaining Letter of Credit (LC) facility.  After getting necessary permission from the department and sanction of additional working capital as well as LC limits from our banker, during early 1986 I visited Taiwan to negotiate the price. This visit helped me to understand international business and laid the foundation for my subsequent visits over the next few years to various Far-East and European countries for sourcing machines, parts and consumables apart from attending International exhibitions to know about technological advances made pertaining to our domain.

As part of promoting the PCB manufacturing equipments package, sometime during August 1987 I visited Manipal Institute of Technology at Manipal which is well-known for its first private medical college in India – Kasturba Medical College, established way back in 1955. I also visited one Ganesh Pai who needed PCBs for the Security systems that he was manufacturing for banks. What I thought to be a routine call, turned out to be an unusual intellectual bonding between me and Ganesh!

Tonse Ganesh Upendra Pai (1939-1992) was the seventh child (of eight children) and third son of T.Upendra Pai of the famous Pais of Manipal[1]. He had just completed his tenth standard when Kasturba Medical Hospital was built. He had an engineering mind and was advised by his elders to join the Medical College after completing his Intermediate (present Pre-University Course) and then specialise in Orthopaedics. Being an independent thinker, though he wanted to train himself as a lawyer, gave up that idea and pursued his career in Syndicate Bank established by his family. After the Indian government nationalised fourteen of the well performing private banks, including Syndicate bank during 1969, he resigned and established his own enterprise to manufacture Electronic Security systems for the banks. He also helped his younger brother Satish Pai, who was managing Manipal Press, in installing / repairing some of the machines. During late 1980s he handed over his enterprise to his employees and retired from business.

Being a rationalist, Ganesh promoted the importance of logical / scientific thinking among people, highlighting the fact that one should not become a prisoner of his / her own mind if he / she want to achieve meaningful goals in life. He conveyed this concept through lectures, magic shows and writings[2]. Whenever Ganesh was in Bangalore, he used to visit our home and kept us amused with his magic and talks. Our elder son Hari was very much impressed with his talks and got interested in Ganesh uncle’s writings even at a very young age of about eight years.

Though Ganesh was hailing from the famous family of Pais of Manipal known for successfully establishing bank, insurance company, schools and colleges as early as 1950s and 1960s, when entrepreneurship was not even spoken or written about, being a logical thinker, did not go behind wealth creation. But, he spent most of his time in liberating people from their belief systems and blind practices through his magic shows and lectures. I admired him for his courage and conviction. As a fearless entrepreneur, he was my role model, though it’d be very difficult to emulate a person like Ganesh.

I happened to be the President of Consortium of Electronics Industries of Karnataka (CLIK) during 1989-91 when India went through a severe economic crisis with an abysmally low Foreign Exchange balance. During 1993 I had to come out of U.V.Circuits and Interconnections for personal reasons. It was my association with Ganesh Pai during 1987-92 that gave me the courage to establish a Consortium Export Company with the support of a few of my business friends and Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) to promote exports of electronic products manufactured by SMEs in Karnataka under the name and style, Clixport India Private Limited, with the main objective of earning badly needed foreign exchange. Through this job I explored possibilities of selling electronic products made in Karnataka to neighbouring countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.

With my only brother succumbing to Cancer in November 1999, I decided to hand over the operations of Clixport to another director and focus more on my family and social issues. I retired as an entrepreneur by the end of September 2001 after complying with all the laws of the land – from the Companies Act and Income Tax Acts perspectives.

[1] Selden Menefee, 1984 Revised 2nd Edition, The Pais of Manipal, Published by Academy of General Education, Manipal.

[2] T. Ganesh U Pai, 1990,  Liberation from the Prison of the Mind.


June 28 , 2024 | Ravi 80