Indore…. A city which hosts premier institutes is also emerging as a manufacturing hub. A non-metropolitan city, it sure has not picked up all the threads of an entrepreneurial ecosystem yet but still offers some distinct advantages to budding entrepreneurs. The city is fast developing into a mature start-ups economy. One such story that the city wrote is of Nooruddin Bombaywala – an entrepreneur who scripted his inspiring success story from the scratch.
Nooruddin was born and brought up in Indore. His father is a first-generation entrepreneur who had started his career in 1984 with a small plywood retail business in Indore. Nooruddin was a bright student who was always setting new goals for himself. A go-getter, Nooruddin feels encouragement and endorsement could have honed his confidence and spirit of creativity, preparing him for bigger milestones early in life. He recalls, “I spent the first four years of my childhood without my father as he was posted on a job abroad. I was a bright student and ranked among the top ten in most of the classes. My parents never took much interest in my school activities and so, I always felt a lack of appreciation. I had to whip up all the motivation from within to keep targeting new goals. Despite my achievements, I grew up as a lad who lacked confidence.
After completing my schooling in Indore, I pursued BBA (Finance) from Prestige Institute of Management, Indore University. It was here that I gradually started getting hold of my identity.”
Nooruddin was aware of his lapses and wanted build a strong personality. He firmly believed that education at the right place, coupled with exposure, could help him. Therefore, when his cousin, an EDII graduate, mentioned the advantages of pursuing the Post Graduate Diploma in Management – Business Entrepreneurship (PGDM-BE) to him, he was convinced. “I joined EDII based on my cousin’s recommendation. Although my dad was a first-generation entrepreneur, I wasn’t too enthused about becoming one. I had joined EDII to gain knowledge and to get a degree which could land me a good job. However, the very first few days at EDII transformed me into an aspiring entrepreneur.”
Nooruddin had gained knowledge and was clear about setting up a business in future but before that, he wanted to satisfy his urge for knowing all about as many aspects as possible. He wanted to study in the US to amass more exposure and learning. IT was a booming area then and he decided to do a course in the area in the hope of compensating for all the personality traits that he thought he was partially bereft of.
“I applied to several universities in the US and appeared for relevant exams. I received admission calls from five US universities and chose University of North Carolina at Charlotte, as it is a large public university. My father offered to spend ¹ 5 lakh towards my study and air ticket but I had to arrange for the remaining 75% expenses. It was a big risk that I decided to take because I neither had any scholarship support nor any idea as to how would I finance my study abroad. I think this is the confidence which EDII had instilled in me.”
Nooruddin’s life in the US was tough. He did several menial jobs to support himself and his studies till he got some relief with his appointment as a paid intern at Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America-College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF), a financial services company. Nooruddin toiled for almost 20 hours a day at TIAA-CREF and another unpaid internship at Dell Sports, a technology start-up, where he programmed their systems.
The pain of hardships got blurred against the learning that Nooruddin derived. Working with these seasoned professionals, he mastered the financial advice domain and also gained insights into how a professional organisation is run. And, “CONFIDENCE became my biggest ally,” mentions Nooruddin, with a gleam in his eyes. He added, “I learnt the lessons of life through the harshest and the hardest of ways.”
Nooruddin felt confident about venturing into the domain of finance. He was confident about his entrepreneurial venture – “All thanks to the learning imparted at EDII and the experience I gained during my internship with TIAA-CREF.”
While still in the US, Nooruddin teamed up with his brother-in-law, Mustafa Nadeem (based at Indore), who had very good experience in the financial market. They ventured into broking business as partners. Nooruddin provided the seed funding and offered all required support from the US while Mustafa managed clients and operations at Indore. Around that time, Nooruddin sensed a severe crisis facing the US as well as its potential impact on the Indian economy. Apprehensive about their clients’ investments, Mustafa and Nooruddin suggested to their customers to book profits and immediately liquidate their portfolios. Some heeded to their advice while some attributed their advice to ulterior motives. But finally, with their prediction having come true, a bond of trust was established between them and the clients. Also, the faith in their competency increased among the client group.
On returning to India in May 2010, Nooruddin became more focused and streamlined his broking business. As Nooruddin puts it, “After having hit a plateau, I realised it was time to take some innovative actions to keep the business on a growth track. We undertook a market study by collecting relevant data about traders and were shocked with the outcomes. The market penetration of professional traders was as low as 8% in India. Moreover, 50% of traders entering the market were found to be leaving it within a short span of six months as they did not have trading expertise. Majority of the traders traded merely on emotions, sentiments or rumours and hence, lost money. Traders were also unaware about market techniques and traded blindly on advice of their dealers whose main focus was increasing turnover. We hired a research team to offer in-house advice to our clients and our in-house recommendations were valued by them. We sensed a good business opportunity; the market had tremendous potential. We decided to tap it by initiating a professional advising setup to provide traders with expert advice on how to trade, which scripts to buy, which scripts to sell and at what levels so that we can create professional traders who understand markets and know how to manage their portfolios with proper risk management.”
Preliminary, work in this area met with huge success and after working informally for a long time, Nooruddin along with Mustafa, finally launched Epic Research Pvt Ltd (Epic) to offer fee-based professional advisory services to investors all over India, with an aim to enable them to take informed investment decisions. However, the journey was not as smooth as they had envisioned. It did meet with several challenges. “It was very challenging to satisfy infrastructure needs of the business. We faced difficulties in setting up the telecom, internet and IT systems which were essential to manage our business operations. Firstly, these systems were capital-intensive. Secondly, there was a lack of good software providers who could precisely understand the needs of a small business and customise the software to automate business processes in a cost-effective way. We found that even an in-house team would involve a lot of time and money. Thirdly, owing to our highly-technical systems, it was very difficult for us to ensure that the software and telecom equipments communicate properly with each other. People with required technical skills were also hard to find for a start-up.” Aoart from these, Nooruddin found it a major hassle to identify and retain talent.
The duo addressed Epic’s infrastructure issue by continuously improving their on-paper processes and implementing these step-by-step into their IT systems. They did this by putting their requirements on paper, getting these requirements coded into systems and finally replacing the manual processes with automation. Today, Epic has created a system for every difficulty and this has been named as ‘Epic ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)’. This innovative system has a detail of work that his organisation is into. Every department, every Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) which is well-defined and every individual at Epic is integrated within the ERP system. Simultaneously, alongside free webinars, the company also launched Investment Awareness Programmes (IAPs) in various cities inviting traders and investment community to learn about markets. To promote their company, they put in place an e-marketing team which aggressively resorted to social marketing tools and tie-ups.
Today, true to its name Epic, the company has created history.
It has expanded client base to Singapore, Malaysia, USA, Australia and Middle-East. In recognition of its excellence in delivering quality products and services, Epic was conferred the Brands Academy Leadership Excellence Awards in 2014. It also featured among the top 25 promising financial consultants in India by Consultants Review Magazine (January 2015).
Congratulations Nooruddin….. You have created a larger-than-life success story.