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December 12, 2004

"Determination to succeed is what counts”: 24/7 Customer CEO

What could be new or interesting about "yet another VC-backed BPO Firm" launching yet another call center facility? Luckily for me, I did not let this question dissuade me from attending the launch of the 24/7 Customer's latest facility in Chennai last week.

A freewheeling conversation with P.V. Kannan, Co-Founder & CEO of 24/7 Customer, after the launch event, left me with a feeling that it would be wrong to slot his company with the rest of the pack.

Here are a few factors that contributed to this feeling:

One is Kannan's impatient attitude - including, refreshingly for me (but not necessarily for good for the company's PR firm), in the presence of journalists. Bangalore has enough PR savvy CEOs - including some who had journalists eating out their hands - but who are not so good when it comes to fetching returns for investors in their companies.

Two, his strong bias for action (versus intellectual debates). Kannan believes the formula for success - for start-ups and other companies - is sheer determination on the part of the founders (or the top management). "Dell Computer and Wal Mart were written off several times. But they ignored the naysayers and kept going and look where they are today," he says. Kannan says the same factor has led to the success of TCS, Wipro and Infosys.

Three, his track record: Kannan earlier founded Business Evolutions Inc, a provider of customer interaction technology, which was acquired by CRM software firm Kana Communications in December 1999. Post BEI's acquisition, Kannan worked as VP with Kana before founding 24/7 Customer. So, he knows something more than the average BPO company founder about the customer interaction space.

Four, the caliber of his investors: 24/7 Customer started out with funding from its co-founders and Ram Shriram of Sherpalo Ventures. 24/7 raised its next round of funding ($22 million) from Sequoia Capital. Ram Shriram and Mike Moritz of Sequoia Capital sit on 24/7 Customer's board. Now, where have I heard of Ram Shriram and Mike Moritz together before? Ah, yes. At a certain company called Google, Inc.

Arun Natarajan is the Editor of TSJ Media, which tracks venture capital activity in India and Indian-founded companies worldwide. View sample issues of TSJ Media's Venture Intelligence India newsletters and reports.