After a three year stint with Microsoft, Ronak Kumar Samantray left a high paying job to become an entrepreneur and later built NowFloats along with three other co-founders. He has now made it into Forbes 30 under 30 Asia (enterprise technology) and admits to be “surprised” to find his name on the list.
A coder since Class V, Ronak was always clear that whatever he does in life should revolve around computers. “I also took interest in robotics and later started the first robotic club in Odisha, Zairza, which is still running in my college, CET, Bhubaneswar,” says Ronak.
While working at Microsoft, Ronak built a speech glove, that interprets finger gestures and converts them to speech.
“After three years, I resigned without any clue about what I am going to do next. One of the key ideas that I started working on was the consumer app which would crawl the data on the Internet and tell you about latest offers, etc. But the problem was that the data didn’t exist online. As in, nobody had a clue of what’s new in that business. Here I am talking about small retail shops — clothing, jewellery, furniture, electronics, etc. — who always have a moving inventory in the market,” says Ronak about how it all started adding, “We got our first paid customer in September 2012, and now we have 200,000 paid customers. Our product went viral because it was easy to use. All we ask the merchant to do is send us an SMS updating about the latest offers and we help drive more customers to their stores.”
“In 2012, we were the first company incubated by Microsoft ventures in India. That opened quite a few doors for us,” he adds.
Ronak also patiently listens to his employees’ start-up ideas. “There are six start-ups that have come out of my office. If an employee comes up with an idea we always ensure that we give them the time to work on their idea and let them chase their dream,” he says. He, however, has a word of advice for upcoming entrepreneurs. “In the beginning, your attitude should be to solve problems. Any start-up needs to launch their minimum value product within a span of 3 to 4 months and not sit on the idea. Depending on how it fared in the market, you know your next course of action.”
Ronak has also co-founded Bolt — the world’s first smart mobile charger for bikes which also enhances the rider’s experience.
Moving back to the recognition by Forbes, Ronak adds, “Any such recognition helps you initiate a conversation. It will help me get 30 seconds attention from a person... It’s just a door opener.”
Ronak, who turned 30 this month, says that he likes to take chances and not lead a life with regrets. “I am an absolute illogical guy. If I feel like doing something, then I do it. My biggest fear, however, is that I shouldn’t look back and think that ‘I should have done that’. So when I turned 30, I wanted to look back and see if there is something that I didn’t pursue and would want to concentrate on those,” he says adding, “If I take a sabbatical, I will definitely go back to study.”