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Friday, December 24, 2010

Rendezvous with DSK

In this series we meet scions, trend-makers, role models of Pune . Who best to start with? DSK obliged us with blessings exclusively for Cityblog….

I enter the office full with crowd of numerable customers, depositors who had come to collect their Diwali gifts. That shows the commitment of DSK group to go extra mile for customers. I was there to interview man who started it all Deepak Sakharam Kulkarni popularly known as DSK. I was let in sharp at the appointed time in his grand office with a generous hospitality and we started.

He appreciated initiative taken by Cityblog to solve Civic issues and appreciated quality reading provided by Cityblog. On newspaper business he commented that His first and last job was with newspaper where he was insulted. That’s when he decided to go on his own. “I had seen my mother who was insulted in school where she used to work. She later decided to start her school on her own”. That’s how his self made entrepreneurship drive was launched.

He is a role model for entrepreneurs like us, so my question was “who was his role model during his initial stages?” There started a spontaneous rendition of experiences which took me to entirely different level.

“There was no specific role model but my mother has been an inspiration. She took tuitions, worked as teacher and did a lot of hard work. Looking at her was a great motivation. I also attribute some values to locality and kind of peers I had in Kasba Peth” . He jokingly adds that “Had I been brought up in sadashiv peth, I would have had not retired as a Bank Officer or govt officer. (IT revolution came in later).

“ I had friends who used to sell petty items on hand cart, another who used to distribute milk. In order to be able to play, they needed to finish their task. Thus as friend, I used to help them sell their items. That helped in creating a street smart approach to sales, dignity of labor and confidence to do different tasks which were assets later. Also he used to help his uncle as vegetable vendor. There he was appreciated with his honesty to provide right weighing balance toward customers. That habit is still intact with now thousands of customers vouching for DSK group.”

“Those were great days when as a young 8 yr old kid, I used to earn up to Rs 5to 10, which was big amount those day. I never felt shy of any work and felt confidence to do be able to do things”

To my question: How did he manage to overcome problem of Capital esp in those days when venture capital did not exist? His response was if you has honesty, enterprise, ability to do hard work, capital will always find ways to reach you.

“I started with concept of telesmell , a concept where we used to provide fragrance to mic and receiver of old telephones. This concept helped me reach various people, across the society. That helped me create trust, and rapport with various people. The willingness to go extra mile eg: Helping lay out item son phone desk properly while cleaning and replacing fragrant wools, honesty eg to point out valuable items while cleaning , personal touch etc all helped create rapport with various people, which helped me at various stages”

His entry into construction line was gradual and evolved into various chain of events. “ I wanted office for telesmell, so went into building near alka theatre. Owner gave me that office with a condition to paint it . So that started painting business. While painting, I once had to wait for carpenters to complete jobs. That locked my labor force. That resulted me venturing into carpentry. Also while painting lakaki, due to rains and leakage my labor was blocked. That led me into waterproofing and so on”… That was start. His contacts through telesmell with various purchase managers etc and due to the good will resulted in plethora of jobs. His teacher stood as bank guarantor for cash credit loan for these jobs. An example of capital finding ways…

Then he narrated interesting story of his first venture as builder: “When I decided to buy a old Wada in Rasta Peth, people warned against due to that place being haunted. But being follower of Savarkar as one who believes in science and rationality he went ahead. He also did not have capital. He promised owner an amount of 80,000. I requested overdraft of 25,000 from branch manager who knew him as an honest, hardworking entrepreneur. That was granted. But there was an accident where wall of adjacent wada fell upon and injured critically two labourers. I innocently went to Police station and reported myself fearing some action. Police inspector was moved with my honesty and helped me later. I then took adjacent Wada owned by trust and made this project a great success. Trust wanted to do this itself, but was unable to do so due to old tenants. But accident helped them to vacate tenants. So a haunted house was turned into auspicious beginning”

“That’s what I say social capital, with that start I have now developed into 550 crores company. Now diversified into other sectors like automotive, IT, Electronics, Capital, DSK group looks into future with a significant pride of satisfying each and every customer. And that’s the greatest achievement”

What next? “to Build a 150 storied skyscraper in Manhattan NY and to develop a laptop digital device costing 10k for poor and rural people.” Varying ambitions and with DSK zeal both will soon be reality wishes Cityblog. “ I am halfway there on both projects,” says DSK with absolute confidence.

Having asked to point changes in Pune city in last 20-30 years, DSK is totally unhappy. There comes out an angry young man. “Who all to blame, everyone is culprit. Take river mula for eg, it runs as gutter. Roads are pathetic. The development is haphazard and unplanned. If given a chance, I will start with cleaning river, making better roads and finalizing 100 year development plan for city. That’s very important. 100 years means four generations. Every city in world except us in India, have done that. “

“The real estate prices are unreal. There is hardly any supply. Government is adding tax over tax, reservation policy is chaotic. Thus houses are unaffordable for common people. The greens who now sit under own roofs stop development of Pune and restrict others to have roofs. Entire topology of Pune is hilly, so development has to be around it. We cannot stop development. But planning is essential to avoid urban nightmare. 100 years development plan is must.”

N G Ashok

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