Saravana Kumar is the Founder and CEO of Document360, a Software as a Service (SaaS) online knowledge base product. Document360 is part of Kovai — a successful multi-product software company with 200+ employees and over $10m annual revenue. Kovai has been recently accredited with the prestigious award “Bootstrapped SaaS Startup of the year” by SaaSBoomi.
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Let’s learn a little about you and really get to experience what makes us tick – starting at our beginnings. Where did your story begin?
Saravana Kumar: While working as a Software Consultant building solutions for clients in my initial days, I was specializing in a technology called BizTalk Server, a middleware product. I identified a problem in the technology and started building a solution around it. Later, I demonstrated the prototype to colleagues and a few industry experts and the response was huge. At this point, I realized the potential of the product and more importantly the problems it could solve. In a nutshell, I can say that what started as a hobby in 2010 has transpired into a thriving business.
Was there somebody in your life that inspired you to take that specific journey with your business?
Saravana Kumar: My entrepreneurial journey has been and continues to be very natural. I started building a solution out of passion, later it became a product and eventually, a business. However, Mr. Girish Mathrubootham, Founder & CEO, Freshworks, is one of the key personalities who has heavily influenced how I scale my business. He is a good friend from India and I have taken quite a lot of advice from him over the past few years.
What are the most common mistakes you see entrepreneurs make and what would you suggest they do?
Saravana Kumar: Premature scaling is one of the common mistakes that entrepreneurs make during their journey. They think hiring the right person can solve a lot of problems in the business. But the truth is a bit different. Organizations can’t scale without a market-fit product and a clear strategy. Developing a prototype of the product before launching it in the market can solve many future miseries.
Also, I see leaders these days, often lose patience and give up before reaching their end goal. A leader has to be very persistent as well as practical in their approach. Sometimes, it takes longer to get to the end of the tunnel. But eventually, things will turn around in your favor when you are patient with your efforts.
Is there a particular podcast you listened to, or business thought leader that you find helpful while maneuvering this pandemic?
Saravana Kumar: I do follow business and technology podcasts. SaaS interviews with Nathan Latka, SaaStock, SaaStr are the ones that I listen to regularly.
In your opinion, what makes your company stand out from the competition?
Saravana Kumar: Honestly, it is the people-first mindset. In recent years, we have built some amazing products, but at the end of the day, the culture of the company is what makes me really proud. We are a flat organization with 200+ people right now. The company believes that unless the employees are happy, they can’t contribute to the growth of the business. We make sure every single person associated with the company is content.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success?
Saravana Kumar: Persistence, Frugality, and being a Coach.
Persistence: I always consider the long-term perspective while making decisions. This is crucial in today’s scenario as there is a lot of uncertainty in the world. All great leaders were visionaries. They were patient with their efforts to attain their larger goal. I believe in the same principle and it has helped me while developing this business from scratch.
Frugality: Being practical is tough. Sometimes, that means you have to make difficult decisions. I had to make a lot of challenging decisions in my entrepreneurial job because they were the only practical solutions at that time.
Coach: A leader always leads by example. A leader should guide, motivate, inspire and encourage the ones around them. Running a company is not a one-man job. I believe every single one of us should lead the organization. I have shown my team how to strive for better results by repeating what’s working, and also by continuing to do that for a very long time.
Being a CEO of the company, do you think that your personal brand reflects your company’s values?
Saravana Kumar: Yes, definitely. One of the core values for the company is #togetherwegrow. My personal ambition is to create and spread the wealth, create at least 25 successful people to achieve their career highs and financial goals.
How would you define “leadership”?
Saravana Kumar: Leadership, for me, is all about how composed you are while handling difficult situations. Those who are being led shouldn’t feel the pressure of the challenges around them. A good leader should be like a sports leader — passionate, inclusive, and pragmatic.
What advice would you give to our younger readers that want to become entrepreneurs?
Saravana Kumar: Nowadays, entrepreneurs want things to happen very fast. I have mentioned this in many of my interviews — there is no such thing as an overnight success unless you win a lottery. As long as you stay consistent with your stories, success is achievable.
What’s your favorite “business” quote and how has it affected your business decisions?
Saravana Kumar: Richard Branson has once said, “You take care of your people and they take care of your business.” I live by this quote as my employees are my greatest asset. I have faced no apprehension about it, in my decade-long experience as an entrepreneur.
Mike Weiss, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Saravana Kumar for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Saravana Kumar or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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