That, in turn, limits his ability to diversify and grow in business. Sharath Chander Punthambekar, a 59-year-old veteran in implementing ERP (enterprise resource planning) solutions in India and abroad, saw this as an opportunity and set out to build a platform that would put the small businessmen on a par with their resource-rich counterparts, as far as IT infrastructure is concerned.
"Most of the companies, especially at the bottom of the pyramid, don't have the technological, infrastructural or cultural bandwidth to implement a true ERP solution. Some go in for one, because their competitor has one," says Punthambekar. "And, many of them can't afford a solution like SAP."
With the aim of giving the power of IT to the millions of SMEs and thereby revolutionize the way they do business, he and his friend of over three decades, M H Narasimhan, 63, have joined hands to put together Inuit.
"Our platform is based on three critical premises: simplicity, affordability and speed. "We offer SMEs the 5-12-5 advantage: cost of Rs 5 per day per user, 12 key modules like orders, bills, receipts, purchases, payments, deliveries, etc; and the app is up and running in 5 days. There are no licence fees, no implementation fees, no customization fees, no maintenance fees, no version upgrade fees and no consultant fees," says Punthambekar, CTO of Inuit Cloud Technologies.
Narasimhan, who is the CEO, adds, "For any businessman, there are just three matrices: receivables, collections and stock turnover ratio. And we have just focussed on them."
Narasimhan, who is the primary investor in this initiative, has over 30 years of experience in senior management, strategy, sales and marketing. Narasimhan says, "SMEs are the backbone of our economy but the most neglected. They have poor quality of information. Even large companies , who have tried to slice ERP solutions, haven't been able to do it in a simple manner. So, we decided to make available a simple information management app to the SMEs who have neither great knowledge of IT nor resources to manage an IT team. It's mobile, and you can upload and download data wherever you have internet connection ."
Inuit, to be launched on November 1 in Bangalore, won the gold medal from the government of India's department of science & technology and Lockheed Martin, USA, for the Best Innovation on the Cloud. Punthambekar is one of the 30 Indians to have won the annual gold medal.
A recent study by Ficci and Google showed that barely 5% of SMEs had even a website. The founders of Inuit are gungho about the change the platform can bring. The company already has around 400 installations in the pipeline. "There are roughly 18 to 20 million SMEs in India that contribute around 40% of the country's GDP. An app like Inuit can help them manage their business better, increase productivity and diversify. When they grow, so too will the GDP," they say.
(This article appeared in The Times of India, Bangalore, in the Brainwave column on Oct 22, 2013)