Pune-based Action Technologies is a fine example of how the spirit of entrepreneurship has to win over the biggest of odds to make a business successful, reports Huned Contractor
There is no better teacher than life itself. This is something that Pune-based, first generation entrepreneur Vaidyanathan Sethuraman has learned the hard way. With his domain expertise in making customised process control solutions, Vaidyanathan's company Action Technologies has been the final result of a grind that has often set him back by huge amounts of money in the past.
"At times it was due to inexperience or foolhardy decisions but mostly it was because of people who cheated me," he says. Today, his company rolls out an average of 50 welding controllers for a single client called S S Controls with an almost zero per cent defect level. These controllers are used for spot welding processes to keep the parameters of power and energy under control.
That apart, Action Technologies has also ventured into the making of controllers used in X-ray machines to be able to keep voltage swings under check to ensure that the resulting X-ray does not suffer from deviation. "Different places have different voltage peaks and troughs and it is important for the X-ray machine to operate at a standard voltage to produce optimum output. These microprocessor-based controllers, which are currently being made for a Jaipur-based company called Medford Medical Systems, are absolutely user-friendly so that even a semi-skilled person can operate an X-Ray machine with complete ease. In fact, these controllers have done away with the need to have a radiologist present each time an X-ray had to be done," Vaidyanathan informs.
The story of Vaidyanathan's success in niche areas can, however, be traced through a turbulent past which has taught him two key management principles: one, never get into a partnership until you are sure that it will work equally well for all the people involved and two, it is better to maintain a subdued profile than get into any hi-fi overdrive. Vaidyanathan (47) acquired a diploma in electronics from Pune's Cusrow Wadia Technical Institute and a diploma in business administration from IMDR in the early eighties, following which he took up his first job with Incon Electronics, manufacturers of tachometers. After cutting his milk teeth with this job, Vaidyanathan moved on to Dynalog Microsystems Private Limited where his role as an application engineer took him to almost every nook and corner of Maharashtra. When circumstances as an employee did not rule in his favour, Vaidyanathan broke free and took up a dealership for the Delhi-based Vinytics Systems to sell microprocessor training kits in Maharashtra. This, unfortunately, triggered off a series of financial crashes that pushed him to the brink of bankruptcy. "I had begun dealing in IBM personal computers, engine oil, products of TTK Healthcare and so on but somehow each of these business bets pushed me deeper into a financial mess so that whatever I earned was ploughed back into repayment of loans," he recalls. Almost at his wit's end, Vaidyanathan finally signed a deal with Nasan Medical Electronics to develop new products.
"I found my creative calling in electronics when I developed my first medicare product for heart patients. The company got an order from BPL for Rs 70 lakh and though I did not accrue any material benefits, it made me realise that I would be much better doing my own thing in product development that would be more technology-intensive and less capital-intensive," he says. And that is what led to making welding controllers, a unique product that also takes into account 20 different properties of various metals and their amalgamation.
"I began with no marketing support and the initial orders came in only on the back of word-to-mouth publicity," Vaidyanathan recalls. Now, with the welding controllers working as a secure assembly line, Vaidyanathan has been focusing all his energies on taking the X-ray controllers further. "The next step is to make the tube heads for which I am in talks with some investors," he informs. It is this spirit of enterprise that drives him to newer challenges.
One such project has been the development of controllers that can decrease or increase the illumination strength of lighting systems. One such has been installed at Haveri in Karnataka where street lights are automatically dimmed or brightened in accordance with the passage of time from sunset to sunrise, programmed to switch on and off on their own. "Unfortunately we haven't been able to get more orders because municipal bodies are mostly under the control of politicians who need to be bribed to get an order," he says.
(Contact: Action Technologies, Pune. Tel: 020-24263741. Email: email@example.com)
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