At 28, Praharsh Parikh is on track to compete with some of the big names in the IT industry here in Australia.
On a balmy day last winter, 18 business delegates from Japan sat in an office at St Kilda waiting to be addressed by a very young entrepreneur. Praharsh Parikh sensed the moment he entered the room that questions around his experience and knowledge would be playing on their minds. After all, he was only 27 years old. Little did they know that this entrepreneur had the all smarts, feels and hangs of a seasoned businessman.
“I don’t look old, so from an age point of view, this has been one of the challenges,” laughs Parikh, adding, “But when you start talking you know you can win. Fortunately, the skills that we have and the solutions that we pitch are enough to impress.”
Parikh is the co-founder of ITCC, a digital and advertising agency based in Melbourne, that has on its list clients such as Nissan, Steller, Mitsubishi, Lobster Cave, to name a few. From coding to advertising to optimising, his dedicated team of over 20 professionals are right on top of their game.
In just over four years of establishing his company, ITCC has been recognised by the Australian government. This year, the Australian Small Business Champion Awards, considered the Oscar of business awards, selected it as one of the finalists from over 1400 entries under two categories – Young Small Business Champion Entrepreneur and Information Technology. Unfortunately they lost the coveted title to a Sydney-based company which has been around for ten years. But ITCC is still in the running for the Emerging Leader Awards, which will be announced later this month.
So how did Parikh rapidly build a company at such a young age? “I came to Australia in 2007 at the age of 19 to study a Bachelor of Information Technology degree at the University of Ballarat. By 2009, I already had the vision to start my company,” says Parikh.
True enough, when he finished his degree in 2010, Parikh joined the IT industry in Melbourne as a programmer quickly climbing up the corporate ladder and after working hard for three years, his idea of opening his own company eventuated backed by his own capital, knowledge and plenty of business acumen.
Thus was born ITCC in 2013 from the confines of his own home. “For a month I struggled and then I knew exactly what industry/clients to target, what and how to pitch them,” he says candidly. He tasted success in the first quarter itself and moved office from home to a space in Richmond with a staff of about five. After eight months, he was already on an expansion mode. “We expanded different verticals, targeted different industries and I had more helping hands to market our services to more people. Then we started getting the brand name and recognition from big large companies.”
As the business grew so did the office – a measure of Parikh’s ambition. He finally moved to St Kilda where he could accommodate triple the staff of what he started with and with a projection of revenue in comfortable figures.
So what services does ITCC render? “We help all companies from small scale to large with IT, web technology, software development to digital advertising – basically everything involving the field of web, digital and IT infrastructure.”
Parikh further explains that the business has a three-way process. First comes consultation, then strategy followed by implementation. For the process of implementation there is a dedicated team to serve the customer and understand the pain points of the business to help figure out what exactly needs to be done. “One of our company’s USPs compared to our competitors is that we work round the clock to support our clients,” he claims.
At a time when most of IT-related work is being offshored, Parikh has managed to sustain himself. “That is because we are doing something different,” he says, with a level of maturity. “There are a lot of companies who are five-ten years behind IT and technology and we are trying to help them improve their strength. So you can’t offshore those activities, you need someone over here who can understand the business, be a part of it and then work accordingly with them. We are creating software and solutions which can grow their business from A to Z, turn them from one-million dollar to 10-million dollar company. Our forte is in the consultative approach to the businesses when it comes to digital strategy, IT or innovative solutions.”
Parikh finds the current environment encouraging for his business to thrive. “The way I see IT and technology is that even a small company is struggling these days because they don’t have the right software to work on, are unaware of what is available to help grow the business or they don’t know where to spend money. When I started this business, there was a huge hype about web designing and online marketing, software development and mobile apps. But not many companies understood the concept of infrastructure management, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions, business intelligence tools, point of sales systems etc. that can help expand the business. We help companies identify that it is not just websites or online marketing or Facebook but a lot more things that can be added to the company’s value and strengths to become a market leader. So we have a one stop solution to businesses. We have the software and knowledge to show business the value of the money they are spending right now. Our clients know where their money is going.”
He believes the IT industry in Australia is actually growing. “Yes, the jobs that can be done by hundreds of people because of labour and other costs are going to go out, and there is nothing wrong in that. But the kind of work that we are doing cannot be outsourced; you need brains and expertise in Australia. With the growth in IOT (internet of things), there is need for a lot of technological minds to be present here who can pitch the right solution and strategy to work with large scale organisations.”
Currently, Parikh is particularly excited about a Business Intelligence (BI) tool that ITCC is developing for some of its major clients because of the magnanimity and complexity of the project. The tool will be released soon. “That will be our biggest project yet as it will be something completely different and new in the market,” he says adding, “That having said, we consider every project big. We are here to serve customers – big or small.”
Indeed much of Parikh’s success follows from his standard imperative to treat every client, whether big or small, with the same care and attention. ITCC’s list of clients is impressive. From Nissan, Mitsubishi to Lobster cave to Form 700, etc. its services are also spread to India, New Zealand and the US although a majority of its market is in Melbourne right now. “Majority of my clients have been with us for four years now,” he says.
Parikh feels no immediate threat or competition in the space that he is in. He says there are lots of Indian entrepreneurs in Australia but few in Melbourne who have positioned themselves well in their own fields. However he believes ITCC is one of the fastest growing companies with the potency to become a market leader. “I look at leaders such as HCL, Deloitte, Accenture, etc. who are moving into area – which is technology. I don’t look at them as competitors but as companies who make me work harder because of their strengths, skills and innovation. Becoming a leader is not by numbers but by the innovation and tech solution that you provide to the customers, which is what our passion is at the end of the day. If you do that, numbers come by itself.”
Can a 28-year old handle million dollars? “It’s not about age but about what you want to do. If you believe in yourself and if you have that strength to do what needs to be done, you can start your business and become a millionaire at the age of 20.”
Parikh’s approach to business has been shaped by his businessman father, who passed away last year, imbibing leadership and management skills from him.
He does not perceive himself as a boss. “I don’t have a cabin. I sit with my team in an open plan and I prefer to engage with them on a daily basis to help them identify the problems as a team. And that’s the most important thing that every business holder has to have – the faith and support given to his team so that they can expand, excel and grow to the level that I have. That way we collectively and productively serve our customers well. It has worked for me till date.”
For many young freshers, ITCC provides the internship to get a toehold in the industry. Parikh says that is how he got the opportunity as well and it is something he is keen on promoting.
A software geek? “Not really, but yes we are going into that area with the new evolving technology and yes I work more than 12 hours a day.” Parikh’s newly-married wife shares his vision and that’s the only way he can work that long hours, while streamlining areas between himself and his co-business partner Kunal Vyas.
For someone who had looked at the US for further studies, Australia came by chance but having found the possibility of realising his vision here, it has been the best way for Parikh to discover that the future is indeed bright and tech savvy!
By Indira Laisram