“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”
– Steve Jobs
Meet Kailash Katkar, an entrepreneur who created a 200 crore business with Quick Heal Technologies. He was neither an alumnus of IIT nor any other esteemed Technological Institute in India or abroad. The fact is he did not have any of the qualifications to become an entrepreneur but today is the Chairman and CEO of a giant anti-virus company. According to him his success was a result of his ability to sense changes in technology at an earlier stage.
Kailash, a dropout couldn’t complete his education beyond Secondary School Certificate examination in the 1980s due to his family circumstances. His father was a machine setter in the electronics company Philips in Pune and his mother was a homemaker. He was never interested in studies but showed a willingness to learn how to repair the then popular office gadgets such as Facit adding machines, desktop electric calculators and ledger posting machines. He took up a job at a local radio and calculator repair shop to support his family. Things were going well and he finally decided to set up his own calculator repair business with a seed capital of Rs 15,000. Although he earned an income of Rs 45,000 in the first year itself, he was not satisfied and could sense the emerging ambit of computers.
He wanted to know more about computer hardware and so started reading and even got himself enrolled for a short course in 1991-92 to understand the basics of computer application. In 1993 he opened CAT Computer Services and side by side worked on his previous repairing business. Although he had no work experience in this new field he kept trying aggressively and got his first break a few months later when two families signed up for the maintenance of their personal computers for an annual fee of Rs 2,000 each. After that he even managed to bag Annual Maintenance Contract for Corporates where New India Insurance was the first to sign such a contract with him.
“In those days a virus travelled from a floppy disc to a computer, paralyzing the system. The creators of viruses did not intend to steal data and use it for financial gains. They were happy to cause nuisance by simply damaging data,” Katkar recalls. He sourced standard solutions to deal with the problem. “There was no concept of removing a virus. We reformatted the computer. This was a built in feature of our AMCs,” Katkar says.
In the meantime, his brother Sanjay had completed higher secondary and was thinking of taking up electronics at the graduate level. But Kailash suggested him to pursue a BSc programme in computer science as he believed the future was in IT business. That was the period when about 50,000 unique viruses were being produced everyday and some prominent ones were Happy Birthday Joshi and Michaelangelo. Sanjay took up the development of antivirus solutions as a part of his project work during the BSc course and was successful in figuring out a solution.
The brothers created an exceptional anti-virus solution and named it Quick Heal but nobody in the market was willing to pay for it. Banks did not understand his work enough to take the risk of lending him money. Hence they found another alternative where they distributed the solution free with the computer AMC and also circulated it among their network of computer service professionals. Only their antivirus could withstand deadly viruses like One Half and Natash and Quick Heal could decrypt the file the viruses had encrypted. They started selling the antivirus at Rs. 700 which was one of the least expensive options in the market when compared to other products.
Sanjay appointed some software developers in the following years and came out with a more advanced version of the software. In the year 2002, the business had grown to a point where they could afford to buy an office space of 2,000 sq ft in Pune for Rs. 25 lakhs. Their first branch opened in Nashik a year later and they quickly started opening other several other branches across India. By 2005-2006, they had gone beyond anti-virus solutions and also started focussing on increasing computer speed, mobile security and gateway level protection. In the year 2007, they renamed their company Quick Heal Technologies and by 2010 expanded their footprint internationally and opened their sales offices in Japan and the US.
Today Quick Heal covers a 35% share in the home PC and small and home office PC segment of the anti-virus market. Unlike other competitors, it has chosen not to spend on marketing and advertising its products and has used that money to deepen relationships with distributors and retailers around India by sharing 15-18 % of the revenue from each product sold. The company currently employs 610 people and has 23 offices in India. Quick Heal has its presence in 50 countries and is constantly trying to expand to more countries across the globe. Kailash believes mobile is where the future computing will be and therefore his company is busy developing solutions for the mobile market. He has been awarded the Rotary Recognition Award and the Entrepreneurs International Honors in appreciation of his outstanding performance in the field of Information Technology.