Investment: knowledge and Entrepreneurial zeal. The intellectual synergies of two professionals in the corporate legal, secretarial and accounting domain.
Outcome: The Genesis of a promising Corporate Outfit – Conscientia Consultancy Private Limited.
When you meet Omprakash & Raghavan, you would be allured by their charm and their disarmingly friendly approach cannot be missed. Through this story they unfold their reason, their hardships and the camaraderie that they shared to shape their dream.
Om & Raghavan had chucked their lucrative careers to chase a dream and carve a niche for themselves.This is the story of CONSCIENTIA – a One Stop Solution for all your Accounting & payroll, Corporate Secretarial & Legal Compliance.
How it all began
Every professional journey has a basic premise, a spark that provides impetus to its accomplishments.
Looking back it has been an interesting saga, a blend of ambition, entrepreneurial spirit, the ardor to excel and generate employment opportunities for the young aspirants that led to the birth of Conscientia.
Dr.Om Prakash, (Om henceforth), Founder & Director, Conscientia Consultancy Pvt. Ltd., reminisce:
“Right from the beginning, and even in my school days, I had an ambition to be independent, to own a company which provides service and generates employment.
Honestly, I wanted to become a doctor. But, I took up the noble profession of Law and pursued CS (Company Secretary) and MBA.
As my professional journey commenced, I grabbed whatever opportunity that came my way.
I started my professional career in Madras High Court where I was attached to an eminent senior lawyer who taught me the basics of high court practice.
Thereafter, as I was pursuing CS, I thought I should focus on corporate law and moved to Bangalore in 1990 for company law practice, again under another eminent advocate.
The decision was a great career move for me.
I had selected Bangalore as the competition was comparatively less besides and Bangalore was the go to destination for all MNC’s in those days.”
“All through my career, my father was a great pillar of support and encouraged me on each of my decision,” Om states with pride.
It was an era of “Initial Public issues (IPO)”, where Merchant Bankers and Registrars to the “issues” were in top form. In 1990 Om decided to work with Alpha Systems Pvt.Ltd. at Bangalore.
The job was a high pressure one and demanded extensive dynamism, liaison and legal acumen.
It is here that Om met Raghavan, who went on to become a good professional friend and subsequently Co-Founder & Director of Conscientia.
In 1994, four years later, Om chose to join an IT company in Chennai to head their legal and secretarial department. This job provided him the right exposure and he grew to spearhead the firm as its Company Secretary.
Mr.Raghavan, after Alpha, went on to work with a Calcutta based Merchant Banker and worked in the area of finance and admn with a major hardware MNC, which had offices PAN India, Raghavan worked in Hyderabad, Delhi and Bangalore of that MNC.
“The idea of having our own outfit is as old as our first job and the promoters of Alpha were our initial inspirations.After we left Alpha, we were immersed in our respective careers with varied corporate. But, we were destined to come back together in 2003-2004.” reminisces Raghavan.
The Clarion Call
Going back to their jobs in the corporate sector was both challenging and rewarding. But something was amiss!
What was it?
After a decade of service Om started being restless and had this compelling urge to do something independently.
He realized that he just didn’t want to lose time any more time in launching the company of his dreams.
He resigned and came back to Bangalore, where he already had a successful tenure. He established contacts here and commenced his legal practice in a small way.
It was a wonderful coincidence that Raghavan, his friend and acquaintance from Alpha Systems had also decided to quit his job and was looking for greener pastures.
Creativity was unleashed, two minds fused to sow the seeds of a great idea. The launch of a power house called CONSCIENTIA!
Om and Raghavan embarked on a mission, exploring opportunities in the market and also spreading knowledge in a highly disorganized domain of Corporate Compliance & Legal matters.
The initial hiccups
Now their journey was neither all that encouraging nor rosy. As expected the path was littered with varied challenges and setbacks.
“It was as if we were on the roads “chasing a mirage”, quips Om.
Their first attempt was to crack a private funding deal was met with failure. This could have discouraged most wannabes, but not this professional duo.
Experience, they say, is the best master! The hardships although bitter, taught them valuable lessons - to be judgmental and analytical in approach.
Undeterred, the promoters decided on doing smaller things in areas that was their forte and were comfortable doing them.
What was interesting for the partners was the fact that both of them had their respective repertoire of strengths to boot.
While Om had demonstrated excellence in Corporate Legal and Secretarial domain, Raghavan brought to the table rich industry experience across administration, accounting, costing, corporate finance, financial structuring, and credit control and receivables management.
This offered an amazing blend of expertise in their respective domain and depth to the services offered in Conscientia.
Om realized he had a great task before him. Introducing Raghavan, who was very new to the legal profession, was a challenge which they diligently turned into an enormous learning opportunity.
“I always give paramount importance to ethics and values. This has helped me to give my best to the organizations that I have worked for and gained appreciation,” asserts Raghavan.
The other challenge was related to client servicing within resource constraints.
Om and Raghavan had kick started their business in a miniscule way by conducting their business meetings in Hotel Brindavan on M.G Road, Bangalore as they did not have an Office space initially.
Subsequently, with the help of a friend and well wisher Subramanyam S, Founder and CEO of Ascent Consulting Services Pvt. Ltd, they identified their first office space in Wilson Garden, Bangalore. It was from here they commenced their corporate, legal and secretarial services.
Initially the practice was conducted on individual names. And in 2006, they incorporated Conscientia Consultancy Private Limited.
There has been no stopping them ever since.
The First Tinge of Success
Was the launch period or timing conducive for clinching the right clientele?
Rolling back in time, Raghavan reflects, “When we started Conscientia, the economy was just recovering from the recession. It was a very difficult and challenging times. We never left even a small opportunity which came in our way. We always believed that we will grow with the client if they survive the market challenges.”
Did the old acquaints welcome them?
“Not really!” opines Raghavan.
“We thought all known people, who are part of large corporate and with whom we have worked or acquainted, will welcome us and will use our services. But it was not to be. It was only the “unknown people”, who provided us the opportunity.Most of our “known contacts” recognized us only after a year or two. And we are with them even today.”
The first signs of Success!
How did the great idea start fructifying?
“The Legal Head and Company Secretary of a large MNC wanted to avail our services. They were looking for a corporate set up, to empanel us as their service provider,” recalls Om.
“It was from here that the organization evolved! And since our investment was only our knowledge, we named it ‘Conscientia’ (meaning KNOWLEDGE in Latin).”
“The move was impromptu, but it has worked miracles for us.” he smiles.
More challenges and hardships
In their pursuit to excel, Om and Raghavan had to brave various odds as the journey continued.
Financial stringencies, initial infrastructure bottlenecks and getting visibility in the corporate arena were the first major hurdles which they tried to address.
“We started to grow our team steadily and within a short span added 10 employees onboard. The strategy was to earn each employee’s salary from the market,” recalls Om.
“Like any new start ups we also had a lot of teething problems such as identification, recognition and acceptance from the corporate,” adds Raghavan, “However we never had inter-personal issues between us, which is a very common feature in many start ups, and that was probably our greatest strength” he smiles.
Understanding Client requirements
Conscientia has given utmost priority to “understand client requirements”. It is on the basis of this that Conscientia was able to give such exemplary customer support.
It is here that the previous experience of the promoters came in handy.
As Raghavan elucidates, “Understanding the client requirement in our business is very much challenging as most our assignments is not specific.
Providing a solution to client’s requirement is very challenging, as most clients’ look for an out-of-box solution which, according to me, cannot be applied in corporate legal assignments.”
“The clients are always happy with our approach and appreciate our practical solutions!” beams Om, “We enjoy the status of being a corporate. Our visibility is seen in the corporate sector. Even during global recession we have performed well.”
Team Building & Trust
Team building is indeed a process and a challenge for organisations world over and Conscientia was no exception.
“More so because our first time employees were in the category of trainees and after a year or two they were moving out for better emoluments after gaining a strong foothold in their specific domain”, explains Raghavan.
“We are still facing this challenge, but as on date we are able to retain and attract better talent, as Conscientia has gained a fairly good name in Bangalore. Additionally, we are trying to match the industry standards in emoluments.”
Conscientia’s quality and robust team provides great fillip and support in all its endeavours.
“Strong team means good service to clients. Without a good team the growth process is hampered. A good second line is a requisite for any organization” avers Om.
Conscientia has always nurtured the best rapport with its clients and the team at Conscientia has fostered and cemented this trust.
“Fostering Trust is one of our main criteria for a long term survival and growth. Forming a team to accomplish a defined goal is not an easy task especially for start ups.
Team Conscientia have most of time discovered and accepted each other’s strengths and weaknesses and learnt what their roles are that has helped our growth process”, opines Raghavan.
Opportunity and thrust for the future
“The journey so far is far from satisfactory,” opines Raghavan, “We started Conscientia when the economy was not in great shape but we are able to get good clients and able to survive. We know we have the potential to grow much bigger than what we are today.”
Going by the changing landscape in the corporate regulatory framework, Conscientia believes that there are five key areas which would receive momentum in prospect, namely:
Corporate Governance:With the Indian Government’s transition in the last decade from paper filing to e-filing, most of the corporate compliance has become online, which brings the spotlight on corporate governance.
Mergers & Amalgamations:M & A is going to be the order of the day and would get the necessary boost in the future.
Legal Process Outsourcing:After BPO, LPO has emerged as a sunrise area in BRICK countries and Conscientia would like to focus on this area in the next two to three years. While the organization is not ready for a large scale operation today, Conscientia would certainly work towards evolving as a leading player in this revolution which presents tremendous opportunities in the future.
One Stop Solutions for a start ups:A huge opportunity beckons! This will help start ups to focus on their core areas of business and outsource the compliance aspects to professionals.
“Conscientia is fully geared up and equipped and till date we have helped 100+ start ups,” confirms Raghavan.
Corporate legal matters:The Corporate Legal space would continue to play a key role since this offers several areas of practice where Conscientia has a strong team in place to leverage this ever growing opportunity. Adding fillip to these initiatives, Conscientia Law associates was formed in the year 2010 which caters to legal services.
Looking ahead in prospect, what’s the blue print and how does Conscientia perceive the changing dynamics of corporate legal matrix in the year ahead?
Raghavan reflects, “The road ahead is challenging. We would like to focus on our strengths and areas of practice as outlined above. We are focussed to grow ten times in the next 4 to 5 years.”
Indeed! With government looking at corporate governance as an emerging and critical area to focus on, huge vistas would open up in the corporate legal framework in the coming decade.
Add to this the promising triggers in the Companies amendment Act, 2013, Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code and National Company Law Tribunal(NCLT) Act, Conscientia is working in the right earnest in joining the next big league in its growth trajectory in the corporate legal domain.
As Om sums it, “Our aim is to be one among the top legal houses in the country, providing quality solutions and expanding our presence pan India and overseas.”