In a very short span, Munish Dewan was rising higher in his career, than anyone could expect. He had led 12 new development projects for the likes of Toyota, GM, Ford, Fiat, Suzuki and Mahindra and Mahindra. On a roll from then on, he became an expert in Supply Chain Management and as the youngest General Manager of the Ispat Group, he worked on an ambitious project to analyse the factors affecting world steel prices. This project took him to steel plants in Ukraine, Russia, China, Mexico, Nigeria, Libya and Philippines.
Everyone saw a new star rising in the horizon but Dewan had plans of his own. Just at the peak of his career, he quit his job and came back to his roots in Punjab to establish Institute of Management Studies, Ludhiana.
Munish Dewan embodies the real spirit of an entrepreneur and there is a lot which can be learnt from his journey.
We have Munish Dewan in conversation with Aakash Saxena.
Aakash: What propelled you to leave such an illustrious and promising career behind and establish IMS Ludhiana instead?
Munish: I always wanted to do a thing of my own. Coupled with the desire to work for the society, IMS seemed to be e a good choice. So, I went for it.
Aakash: It is not easy to quit a day job and become an entrepreneur. How were you able to get past the first few months?
Munish: The decision was not whimsical. I had been planning it for more than a year. The stats and the logistics were all worked out. I went ahead with the plan when everything was ready.
Aakash: One of the biggest challenges an entrepreneur faces is raising the start up cash. How did you go about it?
Munish: I had some savings with me & then the Provident Fund came in when I left my job. Even after that I had to take loans from my relatives. The cash flow has now started becoming profitable.
Aakash: What kind of market research did you employ before zeroing in on Ludhiana?
Munish: First of all, I made a reputation check for the ‘IMS’ brand in Ludhiana. IMS had 60% CAT market share till 2008, from there onwards the earlier partner’s focus had started to dip a bit. Commercially and population wise, the city had been growing steadily since the last 2-3 years. There existed a huge opportunity to take over a running centre. And now with more focused efforts, we are reviving the IMS brand here.
Aakash: How important is an international experience for an entrepreneur?
Munish: It is very important. The international exposure surely makes you a better person. One gets to learn from so many people with such different values and ambitions. It makes you realise that world is too big to waste time on minor issues and that you have to make yourself that big.
Aakash: Some are born with entrepreneurial skills. Some have to learn them the hard way. How has the journey been for you thus far?
Munish: I learnt entrepreneurial skills from Mr Pramod Mittal (Younger brother of Laxmi Mittal) as I worked very closely with him for more than 3 years and in his group companies for about 8 years. The journey was and is very tough and quite challenging. Personally, I like to pick up a challenge and keep on twisting its neck till I win it over.
Aakash: Did you face the ‘dirty side’ of Indian bureaucracy or did you find it conducive enough to set up an enterprise?
Munish: I took help of our CA here to deal with Govt. Departments & yes, as expected there were lot of delays & hick-ups on this side. But in the end, we were able to overcome it. Moreover, not many approvals were needed as we were not starting any industry.
Aakash: When is the right time to realise that an enterprise is not profitable and withdraw before incurring more damage?
Munish: I think in 1.5 years, you should be able to gauge the situation fully. But when you take up anything, you should plan cash back-up for house expenses, running expenses (of at least 15 months), huge money for marketing, brand re-call activities. Anyone who starts off without a properly chalked out strategy is asking for trouble.
Aakash: Did you at any point of time regret your decision of quitting your day job?
Munish: No, never. The joy of working for no one but me keeps driving me further.
Aakash: What is your own vision of India 2020 and how does the youth fit into the picture?
Munish: I strongly feel that by 2024, India will eventually get a good parliament & India’s youth (which will be more than 70% of the population by that time) will force the political parties to finally start performing. The MPs and MLAs belonging to the current parties will not last the change unless they grow up a spine. After 2024, India’s glory should start unfolding. With proper utilisation of our natural resources, control of population (on which again the finance minister missed to focus in his budget speech), our country will be the most sought after country in the world.