The technology market is having it good overall. However, consumers- large or small- often struggle and end up with the wrong service provider for the technology problems. Either the provider is not relevant to the solution being sought, or is not equipped enough to resolve the problem. Moreover, technology providers don’t have it smooth all the time. Capable service providers often do not get the right exposure and gradually fade out in the highly competitive market. What is required is a common ground for both, the service providers and the consumers. Olovy is the answer. How? Let the Founder & CEO, Arvind Prabhu explain the ‘how’ in his own words.
In conversation with Arvind Prabhu, Founder, Olovy
Could you quickly share your professional background?
My background is in Electronics and Telecommunications engineering followed by a PG diploma from NCST, MBA in HR from NMIMS, Certified Quality Analyst, Certified Independent Director from IOD. I am also a certified ISO, CMMi expert and have been part of teams that developed enterprise Project Management products. After nearly 30 years of corporate service beginning in the CAD/CAM division of Godrej & Boyce Mfg Co. Ltd., a couple of startups and then with various IT teams at Reliance Industries Limited, I founded Racenext Information Solutions Pvt. Ltd. to cater to the emerging technology needs. Racenext provides consulting in 3D Printing, Blockchain, IoT and several other IT areas including enterprise transformation activities.
What is Olovy? What business problem does Olovy solve?
Olovy, launched on 25 October this year, is a B2B e-commerce platform based model to enhance opportunities for all types of businesses in the technology areas. It provides a level playing field for corporate consumers from multiple sectors and solutions providers from various technology areas to interact transparently. Today, we have suppliers in 3Dprinting, AI, Blockchain, CAD/CAM, Data Analytics, ERP, Fintech and so on.
As in the case of any platform, Olovy will bring transparency and resolve several inefficiencies in the technology contracts area.
The consumers’ pain areas include inability to locate and influence management decision to engage the competent entities at the time of need, ill-equipped suppliers, unskilled resources on projects, delays, quality issues and overheads of managing a supplier. Very rarely spoken, but decision makers at consumer companies prefer to go with the ‘known devil’ and do not want to risk their credibility by introducing a new supplier. Tech service providers face uncertainty of business, have to compromise on pricing, and spend inordinate effort on payment collection while battling with operational risks. There is no time to plan or innovate.
Several technology contracts sowthe seeds of failure at the very onset of the engagement. Projects fail when it is a one-sided contract, or unclear requirements, poor project and delivery definition, non-adherence to software engineering and project methodologies. We run B2B events and blogs to make consumers aware of new technologies, trends in project management and how a WIN-WIN relation with technology suppliers yield better results eventually.
We found that several ‘techie’ entrepreneurs under-estimate the need to focus on non-technical aspects of business like governance and compliance. Not only does it hamper growth, but is also exposes them to rising risks. Olovy not only promotes the various technology suppliers to consumers, but also has structured and proven programs to help them raise their delivery excellence. More specifically, project risks while contracting, requirements analysis, cost estimation, pricing, proposals management and also helping them in areas of operational excellence, compliance and governance.
What benefits does a platform based business model offer?
A good platform promotes frictionless and transparent business transactions. It creates value by facilitating exchanges; a platform aims to harness and create large, scalable networks of users and resources; the platform is always available and accessed on demand and last but not least, the platform does not own the means of production; owns the means of connection.
The platform by its nature does not judge entrants, provides global reach, equal opportunities and it enables users to exercise correct choices based on the collective information available. We will build an objective feedback system to build trust and credibility among the business entities.
Olovy provides choice to the corporate consumers. Based on the description of services, company information and seeing the credentials of founders and promoters, the decision maker can convince relevant stakeholder in the buyer zone to consider a particular technology supplier. The various departments wanting technology solutions need not be restricted with the limited vendor list in use. Olovy provides convenience of a single ‘go-to’ place to locate different suppliers. Last but not least, Olovy provides consumers with the competitive edge because the information on Olovy is continuously being refreshed and updated.
For technology service providers, the benefits are abundant. In my opinion, the foremost advantage for the
suppliers is that they engage from a level of equality. Credibility is earned and not gained with manipulation. In addition to using Olovy as a very cost-effective advertising medium, this is a platform that promotes services and providers globally. They also get to see tenders, posted requirements in addition to the website traffic they will invite through Olovy. We expect each company to get at least 1000+ views each year. There are flexible packages that help them ramp up and ramp down their presence on the site. Additionally, we offer programs like Consumer Survey, Direct Customer Connect, etc. On Olovy we also have a network of CS, CA, Legal, IPR agencies that will offer services to Olovy members at a discounted price.
More importantly, we help them with strategic inputs like how to move from a commodity player to an enabler or even how to keep refining the market competitive strategies.
Overall, they get to be part of a premium technology community. Is Olovy a pure tech-play?
I wish it was. The website is just the front-end manifestation of the overall platform. We have to work with customers, analyse and predict market trends, influence policies, promote awareness of compliances and apply intelligence to cope with the steady changes in the overall ecosystem. In fact, it appears that the major work has begun once the website has been launched.
Our launch was notably unique with the first three invited experts spoke on Corporate Governance, Compliance and SME development. Technology is relevant but only if these three are also kept in radar.
Olovy provides consumers with the competitive edge because the information on Olovy is continuously being refreshed and updated
How is Olovy geared to meet needs of the technology ecosystem in India?
In addition to the corporates and technology providers, Olovy also has roles for Business Development partners, Trainers, Contributors and Career aspirants.
There are detailed effort based and outcome based incentive schemes for people who work with Olovy. We believe, Olovy will also generate adequate job opportunities once the projects are streamlined. We also provide counselling and competence building programs for students who are technically inclined.
As we enrol more companies and learn about their project needs, volumes, successes and challenges, we will gain more insights as to where we can collectively become better.
What are some of the key features of Olovy platform.
Our tag line is ONUS IS ON US. We will take responsibility to ensuring the members are exposed to maximum business opportunities. Our Code of Honor for every partner insists that they fulfil the needs of consumers, assist service providers to raise their delivery excellence and in general provide opportunities to anybody including students who wish to engage with technology. We have defined for ourselves a code of ethics that ensures that we will conduct all our transactions in a compliant, dignified, honest and transparent manner.
Olovy provides a simple user interface. Olovy website visitors get to search and read about services, training, blogs and news but are restricted from accessing information about companies and their founders. Role-based access provides more features to registered users. A consumer can search for the services required, locate a company, see the founder profile, visit their website and can engage directly. We have purposely kept the process limited to the match making. We do NOT provide features to track the engagement progress. Users can post their requirements of projects, manpower, training etc. which other can respond to.
Let me also show what features we have not provided.
We have not put a payment gateway that forces users to provide payment details. We have not built the auto-renewals of membership that prevails in other systems. We want our members to voluntarily renew the subscriptions.
We have not invested in tele-calling services or digital bombarding to promote Olovy by email or SMS.
We have not built a mobile app. Our website is fully usable on the mobile, so we don’t want our users to go through the download, upgrade exercise nor do we want to risk hogging phone memory or seeking access to any information on the device.
How do you address info security and data privacy concerns?
We are very sensitive to a point of being fanatic about information security, data protection and privacy issues. We have considerable understanding of the global regulations around data privacy. A large chunk of our efforts and investments in building Olovy have been reserved for such aspects.
From day, we have focussed on using licensed software only. Our website is
secure, we do not capture payment related information. We have encrypted several fields in our storage systems. Our audit trail captures every action and error that has occurred while using the platform, helping us to trouble-shoot or handle cases of repudiation. We regularly conduct VAPT and other tests to identify vulnerabilities in our system, if any. We are constantly upgrading IT platform components. Our Standard Operating Procedures for monitoring and support are probably among the best in the industry.
Which are similar or competing offerings?
There have always existed several online and offline platforms for business engagements. Our focus is purely on technology engagements. Our team has studied the features of multiple e-commerce sites, professional networks, B2C marketing platforms and put together the best of features. We are the first in the world to provide a platform based business model for technology engagement. There are a few similar initiatives in India and overseas, but none with the expansive vision and energy that we have ingested so far. We truly believe we are a class pioneer in this category of service offering that is a mix of online and on-ground.
How do you promote Olovy? Who are the promoters and investors?
Our marketing promotions are targeting towards attracting corporate consumers to experience the refreshing change. We have deployed most of the online channels that prevail today. We have also identified niche advertising and promotion areas that are non-conventional.
Racenext Information Solutions Pvt Ltd. is the sole promoter for Olovy today. I have also a close set of ex-colleagues and friends who are willing to support financially, if needed. We are generating lot of interest in the VC / Investor community and we hope that we are in a position to demonstrate higher value of this platform before we engage in serious discussions on funding.
Finally, our users are our biggest ambassadors. Their success reflects directly on our performance. We have schemes to offer attractive incentives for using Olovy.
What are the immediate milestones for Olovy?
We are working towards reaching more people. We want people to think Olovy when they think technology. We are exploring possibilities of inviting consumers from UK, Middle East and US to increase opportunities for our technology providers. Our reach out programs also included tie-ups with content providers and bloggers.
Inside our house, we are also keeping our ears to the ground and seeing what the users really need. We are working towards adding a value rating, keeping up with technology changes required for an ever scalable and secure IT system architecture, adding internationalization features. Over a period of time, we will use AI/ML and other such technologies internally to extract insights based on how users interact with this platform. I am particularly keen to introduce the RED membership which will take it altogether another level.
I am also seriously hoping that our work gets noticed at the administrative levels of our Government and we can align more with the national objectives of Digital India.
What challenges and opportunities do you foresee in the near future?
We have put in a lot of thought, sweat and passion into building this truly open platform. Our biggest advantage and challenge is that we are first in the market.
It is but natural that people will gradually adopt this new paradigm. Especially in India, we have several who tend to wait and watch and act when they feel is the correct time to enter this ecosystem. From an IP perspective, today we do not have anything that is unique to us – except our unlimited passion and ideas to provide value. The basic idea can be easily replicated by other ‘also ran’ website companies. We will introduce aspects which others will NOT be able to replicate. One of the challenges was to look for people who have the open mindset to be able to do multiple things and not just confine to their comfort zone. Like in any other area of business, we need to continuously look at innovation as our cornerstone strength. We will keep guard and keep a watch for that upstart disruptor.
We are quite confident that technology service providers will line up to subscribe once we reach the tipping point. We have had encouraging responses from MSME, NASSCOMM and other associations which show that there is an interest in such ideas.
We will need to work furiously towards obtaining success stories with the fewer members on the platform now to increase the adoption. Ultimately, we are fully Indian, we eventually, if not quickly, figure things out.
Olovy benefits to
• Larger volumes of genuine enquiries
• Predictable project outcomes
• Minimal commercial risks
• Access to curated RFPs & resumes
• Cost effective marketing campaigns
• Easily locate technology suppliers
• Evaluate competence, KYC etc.
• Engage directly or through Olovy
• Post your project needs
• Attract pre-screened talent
• Apply for hot jobs & projects
• Career assessment & counselling
• Discounts on technology training
• Win cool prizes in our Quizzes