Shashank Dixit, founder of cloud-based integrated Business Management software Deskera, has made it his personal mission to help Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in his journey as an entrepreneur.
Coming from a poor background, Dixit knew first hand the struggles faced by small businesses. “They have problems ranging from filing taxes to sending out customer invoices, and even employee payrolls.”
Poor people have ideas, they have thoughts, but how can they, without the money?
A software engineer by training, Dixit knew it was his calling to create solutions to help struggling SMEs.
“SMEs generate a lot of job opportunities. So if they can be helped, it will help everyone - even you and me," he says with a smile.
Born and raised in India, Dixit started Deskera when he was just 24 years old. It took him a year to build the platform, and 'ten years of hard work' for it to become what is it today.
“For the first five years, I used to go from door-to-door. I came to Kuala Lumpur, I went to Klang. Door-to-door. Knock, knock, knock,” he recalls.
Somewhere along the way, he bumped into a 'Datuk' who became his first business partner.
Dixit says the biggest challenge he faced along the way is the lack of funding. “It took me ten years, but I don’t want the next guy to take ten years to do the same.”
“I come from a poor background. Poor people have ideas, they have thoughts, they want to work on something new but how can they without the money? If you’re just starting out, you don’t have a bungalow or a job. How do you get a loan?” he questions.
Citing the United States as an example, Dixit urges the government to look out for young entrepreneurs and help them. “In the U.S., they assume that 90 percent of the ideas will not work out. I think our ecosystem can do that too - because the 10 percent that that succeed, will make up for that 90 percent.”
“Today, big companies have very good software. These are what we call building blocks or blueprints. The irony is that small companies need it more. They need a blueprint of success - and that’s where Deskera helps, with a cost that is as inexpensive as purchasing a SIM card.”
The idea of Deskera is simple: accessibility and affordability. With the app available to download for free on both iOs and Android, Dixit says the app allows people to can run their businesses on their phones. “Download the app for free, and pay for the services you need, as you go," he explains.
There is superstition, but you keep working hard. It’ll take time, but there are no good days, bad days.
Deskera offers services like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Material Requirements Planning (MRP), E-leave systems, among others.
The company is presently focused on making its presence felt in Southeast Asia. It currently has offices in Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, and in five cities in India.
“The Southeast Asian market is big enough. Getting on a two-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur gives me access to about one billion people - and that creates so many opportunities. I don’t need to go anywhere else.”
Although Deskera count some big names like Intel and the Malaysian central bank as its clients, majority of its client base is made up of small companies. “They can be very small SMEs that need to submit their Sales and Services Tax (SST) or to manage their Employees Provident Fund (EPF). They are my clients."
If there is one key takeaway after building Deskera from the ground up, Dixit says that there aren’t good days or bad days.
Ironically, he started his company in August 2008, during which the collapse of the Lehman Brothers, triggering a market crash and subsequently, global recession.
“I set up my company on that day, on the worst day. There is superstition but you keep working hard. It’ll take time, but there are no good days, bad days,” he smiles.
After ten years of sheer hard work and determination, Dixit has raised close to half a billion ringgit in capital as his company continues to grow.