Year End Special: We started the project as an experiment

Varun Chandran, founder of Corporate 360 who started the first rural IT Park in Pathanapuram takes stock.

The year 2016 has been the best year so far in terms of our entrepreneurial startup journey. This year, we signed up 16 of the Forbes 500 companies as customers and opened our own 12,000 sq ft state-of-the-art co-working, co-living office in Kerala, which is the first rural IT startup park wholly owned by a startup. Three years ago, we started our company in a tourist home with five people. Now, it has grown with 40 people.

This year, we were featured in Forbes and were able to establish a social impact business model that created over 100 jobs in rural Kerala. We started the project as an experiment. Customers don’t care whether you are working from Infopark or the city, they want their problems solved. When we began our journey, our aim was to create meaningful IT employment in rural areas. Big companies need only those who have scored above 90 per cent and others don’t get opportunities. Also, youngsters from villages have to go to cities for a job or to begin a startup. To solve all these, we set up our place in the rural area.

Many people were of the opinion that the model wouldn’t work. But we proved them wrong. The social angle of our project is what attracts customers to us. One of the key problems companies that come to Kerala face is lack of talent. Why we are successful is because we focused on talents and distributed work accordingly. For instance, if our sales and marketing team is located in San Francisco and Singapore, customer support is based in Philippines. And, we brought our research wing to Kerala. Ours is a case study I would encourage people to look at, but for that one needs a product that can be sold globally.

Also, we adopted Paadam, my native village in Kerala this year and started contributing to community development. We built toilets, home for the homeless, started an ambulance service to reach the nearby hospital and provided a school bus for children. Solar lights were distributed to those who have no access to electricity. We have plans to start food supply to the poorest 80 families in the area next year.

360 Degree turn

Born in a village called Padam in Kollam, Varun Chandran’s father was a farmer and his childhood was defined by the need to survive, thereby learning the value of labour. This gave an edge when he started playing football. An injury on the football field had him moving to Bengaluru to find a job. He spent hours at internet cafes learning about tech jobs and entrepreneurship and polishing his English.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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