Kirloskar Institute of Advanced Management Studies’ alumnus Mr. Jagan James is a third generation entrepreneur, but that’s not how he started his working life. He spent several years in organisations like MICO BOSCH, SKF India Ltd. and Bajaj Auto Ltd., where he believes he picked up some essential skills that helped him begin his own journey. But even more than that, he believes that business was in his blood, “I feel it was always in my blood to go at it alone. From a very young age, I had a passion towards business and dreamt of building a professional, socially relevant and ethical business organisation.” He has done that today. However, he believes that it was the academics at Kirloskar Institute of Advanced Management Studies (KIAMS) that equipped him with the skills he needed to be an entrepreneur. As he puts it, “I can never forget the lectures on Business Strategy by Dr. V.S.Pai. The theories learnt during the course are very important as they help you structure your thoughts and thereby facilitate better entrepreneurship. They are definitely crucial because theories are refined out of practical experience and scientific research, and awareness of the same avoids the need to reinvent the wheel every time.”
James believes that everyone has an entrepreneurial streak in them and more professionals are looking at the possibility positively. “The corporate world itself is training professionals to be independent”, he says, “and employers are encouraging their employees to be entrepreneurs in their own capacity and to be responsible for their revenue and profit targets. This, I feel, will give more professionals a feel of the entrepreneurial kick without actually having to start something on their own”. However, he accepts that it is challenging to have one’s own business. The biggest challenge, he says, “was mobilising adequate funds, shortage of which means crippling limitations in acquiring a land bank, hiring and retaining skilled people, limitations in marketing and advertisement spends, and so on.” An entrepreneur, therefore, plays multiple roles until the business acquires the critical mass, explains James.
JVN Properties was James’ maiden venture, which carried the USP of offering affordable and reliable housing. To date,the company has completed three small-scale residential projects and a few contracting assignments and is in the planning stages of a fourth project. During these projects, James sensed a growing scarcity of skilled manpower and raw materials, and decided to start looking into alternative building technologies. “Fabtech Ventures was established in the year 2012 with the objective of providing an array of construction related technologies for captive use as well as external supply.” Today, both the organisations are finding their footing and place in the market, and for James it is really important that they justify their purpose. “I want them to be special and deliver customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, social responsibility and investor satisfaction.”
James is passionate about his work and explains the industry further as he says, “Real estate development as a business, especially in the small and medium scale, is a very competitive field. The major reasons for this are a very low entry barrier and lack of regulatory frameworks.” According to him, one needs domain knowledge, financial acumen, people management skills and technological advantages in operations and marketing (social media and so on) to hold one in good stead in this business.
His advice to the young aspiring entrepreneurs is that conviction matters more than age and that they would be better off starting early if they are convinced and have clarity about their plans. He says, “Businesses across industries will experience seasonal ups and downs along with unexpected turbulence, but an entrepreneurs’ conviction should be strong enough to take him through the troughs.”