In today’s world, everybody is hard-pressed for time. This includes the lady of the family, who in many cases is a working woman. Where is the time to take care of small activities like paying various bills, depositing cheques in banks, buying postal stamps, buying rail tickets, etc.? Though now-a-days, some of the above mentioned activities can be done online, some would prefer the traditional method, i.e. by standing in serpentine queues. Thus was born concierge services of the modern day, which handled these unproductive activities usually consuming one’s valuable personal time. Kumud Sharma is one such female entrepreneurs, who helps with professional people’s such to do lists.
How many times has one lamented the lack of time for personal activities? Simple tasks have become challenges like one has to shelve travel plans, due to a delay in booking and one has to miss movies due to the serpentine queues at cinema theatres. Thus one is unable to create a balance in one’s personal and professional lives, with commitments overlapping and deadlines and due dates clashing with each other. This is where people like Kumud come in.
Even employers are constantly using her help for handling errands at the office. To keep valuable workers busily engaged in more productive activities, employers are constantly upgrading and out-sourcing services for handling small errands at their office. Kumud’s SuperSeva, is one such concierge services provider and serves individual and corporate clients. This has been upheld as a welcome change in a society starved for one-stop solution.
For many, the concierges program is an ultimate solution that saves their time and energy. SuperSeva is the flagship product of SuperSeva Services Pvt. Ltd, headquartered in Bangalore. Srishti Software Applications Private Limited promotes the company, which was founded in June 2000 and the company increases productivity by restoring work-life balance. SuperSeva uses the internet to make one’s life easier-by delivering the ultimate solutions for everyday tasks. SuperSeva.com assists in taking care of one’s personal errands and as a result gives you more free time, fewer worries.
The Beginnings: According to Kumud, her husband was aware of the hectic life of an IT professional, since he was already running one. He knew that the IT professional’s personal life was very less, due to professional commitments. IT had seen a down-turn at that time, with fluctuations in the industry. The idea was that they should have a business independent of IT fluctuations. Thus SuperSeva was born.
Kumud stepped in the role of SuperSeva CEO in Oct. 2006 and revamped the technology platform responsible for the service delivered by SuperSeva by briniging together corporate service agents, end users, corporate decision makers, back office and external partners of SuperSeva. She ensures, proper people and processes are put in place along with a great technology platform so that there can be continued service delivery excellence with the high growth that SuperSeva is witnessing.
Prior to joining SuperSeva she was taking care of many corporate functions in Srishti Software as VP- Corporate affairs and before that she had worked as system analyst in a German company for a few years. Her leadership brought in 100% growth rate on year to year basis for the company. SuperSeva has expanded from 4 to 18 cities and she has handpicked city managers and groomed them to act as profit centers along the way.
Kumud is a B.Tech. (Electronic and Communication Engineering) from BIT, Sindri and has done one year executive Management program from Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Bangalore. She has taken advantage of her education and experience in developing her company into a major national player in the field. That gave her a great visibility and the ability to scale-up quickly in her chosen field. She claims, “Without IT if we manage a service like this manually, we would not have been able to cater to so many clients at the same time.”
Initial Problems and Their Solutions: Kumud took over when SuperSeva was 5 years old. She talks about the challenges she faced at the time her company was taking baby steps. She recalls, “Resource management – finding the right person, for the right job and getting that job done has been a challenge. Particularly more challenging is handling operations in the other cities. A particularly testing time I would say is how we would remotely manage, control and deliver the quality that we had promised to the customers. For that we got our company ISO 9001:2008 certified.”
Kumud adds, “ We have also been taking the opinions of people we have on our advisory board. We are interested to know what the best marketing practice is. We would also like to know what the other services like us are doing. Above all it is our own gut-feeling.”
Current Problems and their Solutions: Kumud insists that there are always problems, while growing and scaling up. She says, “But these are ‘good-to-have’ or positive problems. There were same challenges, which were present, may be 5 years before. Earlier we had the challenge of managing 20 lakhs capital. Now we have to manage a capital of 3 crores. Challenges are the same, but the quantum has gone up. If we bag an order of 5 crores, we need the working capital 2 months ahead because the payment will come after 3 months. Since the amount has increased, we have to arrange this regularly and that is a challenge. Ours is a self-funded enterprise. We have not taken any external funding from Venture Capital sources. We have our plans for raising funds in place. Most of the time, our bankers are always there to help us. They give us a good over draft and the challenge is met with easily.”
Support System: Initially, having been brought up in a middle class value system, Kumud had problems tackling household chores like cooking. She would feel guilty when she would have to travel to the other cities on business leaving her home and children unattended to. Having a supportive husband, she has been able to accomplish a lot in the business. Personally, she says that she has good resident maids to take care of her home, while she is away.
Professionally, she says that she would want financial support system at the first place. She says, “Secondly, you need to have the second level ready, if you want to scale up rapidly. We have the second and the third levels ready in our company.”
Diversification: Kumud says that when they were giving concierge services only, clients would come and ask for other services, too. Thus slowly, they started diversifying into other non-core support services like HR, admin/facility, legal and finance and enterprise event management. HR involves employee concierge services, employee engagement services. Admin/facility deals with managed front office services, facility management services, mailroom and travel desk management and other support services. Legal and financial services consist of stamp paper and franking services, procurement solutions, tax and accounting support, etc. They support an online ticket platform, corporate event management and individual party planning among other services.
This article was first published in Eve’s Times magazine and has been reproduced here with the permission of the editor, Swati Amar.