At a time when computer was a luxury and the Internet connectivity
dropped every five minutes, they were learning about protocols and networking.
The unedited conversation has all the corporate masaladrive, passion,
energy, enthusiasm, anecdotes and ambitions. Here are Bhavin Turakhia and
Divyank Turakhia, Founders of Directi, the first company in India to
get an iCann accreditation, in conversation with Renuka Vembu.
career journey of the Turakhia brothers is best described by the maxim, self
help is the best help. In their case, it was self study and experiential
learning that has been their constant career guide.
A tryst with computers from the 5th grade and a hands-on experience with the
system boosted their knowledge base with respect to using, analyzing and computing
through this medium. Arya Vidya Mandir was a relatively new school and
out of the 30-40 students in the class, only 11 or 12 opted for computer science
as their subject. Thus, everyone got a hands-on experience in working with the
system. I used to be in the computer lab during lunch breaks and short breaks
and even stayed back for two-three hours after school. The teacher used to hand
over the lab keys to me and go home, says the eldest of the two siblings,
Bhavin. In his 8th and 9th standard, when students were busy downloading music
and movies from the Internet and playing video games, Bhavin started taking
computer classes for his fellow students and teachers because what they taught
were very basic elementary programming and he was well-versed with it. During
his 9th and 10th, he put together two projectsa stock market game in Basic,
with graphics, and a business game on simulation of running a business, right
from hiring employees to setting up a marketing department. I was certain
I would do something in computers as it was my area of interest. I was business
oriented and wanted to do something on my own, says Bhavin, a merit list
holder in his 10th grade.
A different path
Shifting from Science to Commerce, from DG Ruparel College to Sydenham College
after his 12th, was not a matter of choice. When I looked at the engineering
curriculum, I realized that I knew everything that they taught; there was no
point in redoing the same, says Bhavin. As he attended college sparingly,
he grabbed opportunities to familiarize himself with new computer programs.
Divyank started freelance consulting to corporates on hardware, software and
networking, immediately after his 10th, at the age of 14. The brothers wrote
and developed several softwares, initial efforts that did not pan out but proved
to be learning experiences.
In 1998, they borrowed Rs 25,000 from their father to buy their first Internet
server. We wanted to do something on the Internet related to Web services.
Even though Internet penetration was just on the range of 20000-30000 and 14.4
KB was considered high speed at that point in time, we aimed to get a sizeable
portion of the market, state the brothers in unison. They repaid the money
within the first quarter and from then on, there was no looking back. In 2001-2002,
they made massive sales of their websites and domain names in the NASSCOM conference.
The Turakhias formed their company Directi, coined from the word Direct Information.
When the Internet came in and networking became prevalent, the business
landscape changed. Access to information and services changed the way individuals,
corporations, SMEs, businesses and enterprises lived and functioned. Our macro
vision behind Directi was to create and facilitate a set of services, ranging
from the basic to the more advanced ones, which allowed people to use the Internet
to leverage the way they did their things, says Bhavin.
The company has five-six different businesses and each one of them rank in the
top 10 across the world in their respective spaces, their major competitors
being in the US and Canada. Their products Skenzo, LogicBoxes and ResellerClub,
are world-class. The brothers plan to come up with 10-15 diverse businesses
in the next 5-10 years and want to embark on the direct marketing side of business
with customer facing brands. Some of their new products will hit the market
within the next six months. Their goal is to build volume based mass market
products and services which is Web or Internet-centric and empowers users to
apply the Net to do things better. Their future goals are to add new businesses,
products and people and to get listed in the stock exchange.
Directi currently has 400 staff members and the numbers have been doubling since
its inception. To cater to their scaling growth, Bhavin and Divyank have purchased
additional plots of land to house about 2000-2500 people more. Earlier, most
of their time was spent in computer rooms, and in reading a collection of management
books, and biographies of companies. They have tried their hands at basketball,
harmonium, guitar and keyboard. They are passionate about a wide range of activitieshiking,
trekking and adventure sports like wing walking, scuba diving and paragliding.
The two wishes on their priority list areto watch the sardine shoal
run in Capetown which happens in June-July every year, and diving in the
Red Sea. In their own words, they sum it up, Online or offline, reading
and learning is an on going process. Since resources are available readily and
in plenty, even complex knowledge can be grasped if one has the initiative and
the innate desire to learn. We want our workforce to take initiatives, be intellectual
and possess aptitude to digest new technology and show curiosity to learn.