The book definition of an entrepreneur doesn’t suit Sandipan Ray; today he is a name to be reckoned in the business space with an expertise of 2 decades whose ambition has placed him above-par and sets him apart from others. When he was shifting his business to the next level, few bottlenecks wrapped his journey and handicapped the business growth. Despite searching far and wide for the solutions, it seemed tough going out there. After numerous futile searches and albeit his best efforts to solve all this woes on his own, somewhere he realized these difficulties need some help from the experts, who can give him the best strategies in different fields. This was when he realized the significance of reliable mentors in the world of business and that was how SMBConnect’s foundation was laid; from his real struggle. Mr.Ray’s motivation of bridging the gap between top notch corporate and SMEs by deploying prerequisite solutions, his early struggle and burning the midnight oil has paid off quite well. After a successful 5-year old journey touching the reach of over 10,000 SMEs with 150 events across India, SMBConnectPragati LLP has positioned itself as India’s largest integrated solution platform which connects and strengthens small & medium sized enterprises as well as entrepreneurs across the nation. Interview excerpts taken from StartupCity of Mr.Ray’s vision and his thoughts on SMBConnect’ work culture and its successful journey.
What are the key ingredients which are spearheading SMBConnect’s progress ahead of the others?
To achieve our motto, we work with three fundamental principles of Connect, Knowledge & Growth.
Connect – We organize our annual event ‘Start.Manage.Expand’ to establish a strong link between mentors and SMEs and among SMEs in India.
Knowledge – Through our annual events, advisory services, newsletters, blogs & social media, we provide mentoring on essential business know-how like skill development, risk reduction, capacity building, and financial management, to name a few.
Growth – After having established connections and awareness among the SMEs, we make these businesses ready for exponential growth. We devise the best solutions to the pressing problems of small-medium businesses, so that can overcome all odds and succeed. Because we believe, every small can indeed be big!
How has been SMBConnect’s journey so far?
At SMBConnect, we didn’t get to where we are today by following the status quo. We have made our own path and today as we continue to strive for new ways to evolve our business and client offerings, even more, we cannot be more proud of our milestones achieved in all these years. We started SMBConnect in 2012 and since then we have done 150 events. We have over lakh of SMEs in our network and approximately 52 mentors. SMBConnectPragati and Master Class were two new initiatives we started last year
Provide us a glimpse about PRAGATI?
With our new advisory initiative- PRAGATI which stands for Professional Advisors, Growth Aggregators, Tech and Investment experts, we envision reaching and engaging with a larger group of businesses in nurturing long-term relationships through mentoring and creating tangible takeaways for the business. To achieve our objective, we have embedded our fundamentals on the pillars of Start- Manage-Expand event series, MasterClass, Advisory Services and B2B Collaboration. Our business advisory services and a strong panel of service providers focus on delivering effective solutions for the smooth running of companies. Our motto is simple; sharing knowledge to help SMEs to improve their internal and external value drivers for betterment.
How are SMBs benefitting from these initiatives?
At SMBConnect, we have been providing unique support to SMEs, Young & Women entrepreneurs to grow their business to the next level .With our series of events and other initiatives, we have contributed in creating the best SME ecosystem India has ever seen. We can feel a huge excitement in the MSME sector with the possibilities and opportunities opening up. As part of our mission, we have been successful in sharing best practices, information and knowledge as well as seek and recognized businesses who have exhibited great success.
What kinds of employee achievements are recognized by the company?
We recognize employees through workplace accomplishments- Whether they achieve spiked sales /increase profitability or decrease costs. We have various informal and formal recognition programs to conform to our workplace culture and to the needs and interests of the individuals. Well, there are town hall meetings or special events to celebrate our success at the end of a project, after the quarterly review, individual milestones, team milestones, birthdays, work anniversaries and much more. ‘Star of the month’ is awarded to our star performers.
Can you describe the environment here?
To sum it up, we at SMBConnect have dynamic work, non-monotonous and start-up kind of culture with significant investment in employees. We are inculcating a culture of ownership and independence; rather than having managers breathing down your neck. The office environment encompasses interesting work; being in a high-growth area, looking at new ways of doing things, and experimenting. SMBConnect seeds an attitude: Got a good idea? Go ahead and test it!
Does the company have a stated set of cultural values for its employees?
At SMBConnect, values are arguably the most important component of culture, which help employees understand what an organization stands for and what is expected of them.
We believe and practice the following value set:
• Accountability, Responsibility, and Authority – Acknowledging and assuming responsibility for actions, products, decisions, and policies.
• Commitment and community – Committing to a great product, service, and other initiatives that impact lives within and outside the organization.
• Innovation and Continuous Improvement- We think out of the box, believe in innovative disruption in modern practices and proactively find ways to do things better and faster.
• Teaming and Collaboration- We believe in Teamwork and value each other’s contribution. We concur with the fact that through open communication, we achieve exceptional results
• Empowerment – Encouraging employees to take initiative and give the best.
What is the work-life balance like here?
We believe that a healthy work-life balance can be the difference between being really happy in your job or being miserable. At SMBConnect, we don’t have a typical break room! We have created a social space and an open floor where employees can hang out with their coworkers for increased collaboration. We also provide comfortable chairs and board games like Tambola which is a great way to encourage your employees to interact in a relaxing environment. There are flexible timings and provision of appropriate leaves for employees to help them unwind and unplug.
What are the roadmap and future plans of the company?
We at SMBConnect, have been spearheading the cause, development, and progress of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Indian since 2012. With Start Manage Expand series of events and conferences we have brought together thought and policy leaders, policymakers, influencers, members of chambers of commerce, diplomats, government representatives, entrepreneurs, heads of financial institutes and global changemakers to associate with us. We want to make this an excellent platform for many eminent decision-makers, practitioners and hundreds of business PAN India to share their expertise, experience, and emerging best practices to shape the development agenda for SMEs across. As we look forward, we at SMBConnect are undertaking new initiatives and devising our move forward through building supportive communities, using effective solutions to connect with customers, providing advisory solutions, leveraging training programs and sharing the experiences of other businesses—all of which will accelerate entrepreneurship, diversity and businesses’ growth. We will also be conducting SMBConnect Awards for the Small and Emerging business to honor their resilience and innovation in there respected field. Soon our book dedicated to Legends of SME sector in India will be out soon in which are identifying and sharing the success and struggle stories of businesses that have made an impact in their field. We believe that these stories will inspire a lot of business in their hustle for growth and also provide a learning curve to others in the stream.
Identifying the key challenges of SMEs, Mr. Sandipan has closely worked with the brands like Vodafone, Tata Docomo, Flipkart, DCB Bank, Kotak Bank, Tally, etc. With an empathic understanding of the challenges faced by small & medium businesses & a well-communicated vision & mission, Mr. Ray through SMBConnect aims to connect all the SMEs in India and to cater integrated solutions to them for overcoming obsta