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Interview with Mukund BS, Co-Founder - ReNewIT

By Guneet Kaur Khanuja in 'Founders Circuit - The Venture Capture Series', Feb 4, 2015.

  1. Guneet Kaur Khanuja

    Engineering Discipline:
    Electrical
    ReNewIT offers some of the best variants of low cost, refurbished, second hand or used laptops to their customers. ReNewIT was co-founded by Mukund MS and Raghav Boggaram in the year 2009 with an aim to "increase the number of high-quality, low-cost PCs and related parts and accessories available to Students, NGOs, Small Businesses and other users". ReNewIT offers refurbished laptops and servers from some of the best computer manufacturing companies in India.

    Mukund BS is a graduate in Electronics Engineering from National Institute of Technology (NIT) - Surat in the year 2003 and has done his Post-Graduation in Management studies from the Indian Institute of Management - Calcutta in the year 2006. Mukund is also the winner for the category "Young Entrepreneur" at the 1st Entrepreneur's Day Awards conducted by National Foundation for Entrepreneurship Development (NFED) in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. Mukund was handpicked from over 1800+ entries received from all over India and won the "Masterpreneur India" - a platform which is hosted by CNBC Awaaz in collaboration with Sona Koyo. Mukund is also the winner of the Young Innovator Award at "FKCCI Innovation Excellence Awards 2014".

    In an exclusive interview with CrazyEngineers.com, we got Mukund to talk about his experiences at ReNewIT, his educational background, the team at ReNewIT, source of inspiration for the team and what made him take the plunge. Mukund also discusses about the most rewarding and least rewarding aspects in the work of an entrepreneur. Read on!

    MukundBS-ReNewIT-CrazyEngineers.jpg
    Mukund BS

    1. Please give our readers a brief overview of ReNewIT.

    Mukund:
    The Mission of ReNew IT is to “Make Computers Affordable to everyone”.
    As per Census 2011, India has an IT penetration of 9.5% at a household level. At the heart of this digital divide is the issue of Affordability. We at ReNew IT are bridging this digital divide by increasing the number of high-quality (we are an ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 certified organization), low-cost PCs and related parts and accessories available to Schools, Students, NGOs, Small Businesses and millions of Indians. We mainly source computers from large MNCs – refurbish and re-market them.

    2. Could you tell us a bit more about your educational background?

    Mukund: I have done BE Electronics from NIT Surat and post graduation in management from IIM Calcutta. Apart from the technical education, I grew a lot as a person during my engineering. NITs offer a unique platform where I had an opportunity to interact with people from all parts of the country. I firmly believe that interacting with diverse people broadens ones horizons and helps you look at the same situation with different perspectives. At IIM Calcutta, my learning curve was deeply accelerated. We learnt 65-70 different subjects within a span of two years. The institution certainly provided the breadth of knowledge, but the really successful ones are the ones who delved further to have a deeper understanding the field of their interest.

    Twenty years from now, you will be what you are depending on the kind of people you meet and the places you visit.

    3. Who are working with you at ReNewIT? Could you introduce your team to us?

    Mukund: Our operations manager Mr. Neelakantaiah has been with us from day one. He runs a tight ship and ensures that there is no compromise on the quality of the refurbishing at our facility. He didn’t know anything about computers at the outset. His dedication and enthusiasm for learning have made him our MVP. He can now put some engineers to shame with his computer knowledge. He manages a team of 7 technicians.

    Raghav is my co-founder. Raghav is a graduate from Western Michigan University and MBA from Manchester Business School. Equipped with the foreign exposure and work experience, Raghav wanted to build a successful enterprise in India. He returned to India and successfully grew a pharmaceutical CMO for a couple of years. Raghav is a keen Networker. He is the founding member of BNI – Ultimate Chapter in Bangalore. He actively mentors and contributes to the growth of many entrepreneurs.

    Team-ReNewIT-CrazyEngineers.jpg Team-ReNewIT-CrazyEngineers1.jpg
    The Team


    4. What made you take the plunge and start-up with ReNewIT?

    Mukund: Two events in 2008, catapulted us on this wonderful and extremely enriching journey of bridging the digital divide in India. My co-founder Raghav who was heading a pharmaceutical manufacturing unit had to upgrade his computers to run the latest software applications. His old computers were still functional but they had to be discarded and the watchman wanted it for his high-school kid. That was when the seed was sown. Around the same time, at one of the Indian weddings, I met a friend of an uncle who was visiting India from the US. He runs an organization where they buy back old IT equipment from large organizations, test them and harvest the working spare parts which are sold to companies for their maintenance requirements.
    5. What are the most and least rewarding aspects in the work of an entrepreneur?

    Mukund: If I had to summarize our journey at ReNew IT in one sentence – “Have Passion, Take Action and Magic will happen…” I really love doing what I am doing. It is really hard to pick one favourite aspect. But one thing that does stand out over and above everything else is seeing the smiles on the kids who have just used or bought their first computer. The satisfaction we get from that is immeasurable. There have of course been challenges along the journey. The part that I hope and pray that other entrepreneurs don’t have to face in the future is navigating the red tape to set up any business in India.

    6. What is more important to you - wealth, health or happiness?

    Mukund: I get asked about this quite often. What I always tell everyone including the entire team at ReNew IT is that all three are like three subjects in a final exam. You need to score above a certain threshold in all. Even if you max two of the three and don’t achieve the threshold in the other, you would have failed. Life would be incomplete without a balance and sometimes it does get hard to maintain the balance, but it is very important to ensure that one tries to maintain a certain threshold in all three aspects. It would be different for different people and they have to decide that for themselves.

    CoFounders-ReNewIT-CrazyEngineers.jpg
    The Co-Founders


    7. If you had the ability to solve ONE problem in the world - what problem would you solve? Why? Does it affect your work at ReNew IT?

    Mukund: Having the privilege of a world class education, my aim is to contribute to helping others get access to better education. I strongly believe that education can solve many other problems. I am not an educationist but I believe that technology has a powerful role in education.

    Our Initiative for Schools is “Computers in Schools”. In India, there are over 23 crore students studying in over 13 lakh schools across India. Qualified and educated citizens are the primary building blocks of any strong economy. In a country such as India, there’s a huge disparity between the level of education resulting in lack of opportunities for some and abundant opportunities for others. “Computers in Schools” aims to reduce the disparity by empowering schools with ICT so as to create equal opportunities for all the future citizens. Please watch the video at your convenience -

    .
    With the Indian government sanctioning Rs 500 crores in the latest budget, towards the “National Rural Internet and Technology Mission” to expand the reach of broadband connection to the rural areas in India the number of schools getting internet connectivity will only increase and we feel we are rightly placed to assist the schools which are getting connected.​

    8. What is your greatest regret?

    Mukund: I personally believe that whatever happens is for the best. I have been lucky to have been raised in a spiritual family. My upbringing has taught me to focus on the positives in any situation.
    9. How do you measure success? What is your definition of a successful entrepreneur?

    Mukund: I measure success in the intent and the effort more than the result. These would not only include the action, but also the understanding of the situation and the thought process behind the action. These are the things that one can control. There are always certain variables beyond our control and hence the results never totally represent the full picture. Sometimes, the harder you work, the luckier you get. The other thing about success and failure is that they are never permanent. They are just milestones in life and it’s the journey which is more enduring and people often forget that.
    10. Thank you for your time. Any message for our readers?
    There is a huge digital divide in India and we are striving to bridge it. A computer can change someone’s life forever. IT will be one of the drivers of India’s transformation from a developing economy to a developed nation. If India’s IT penetration goes up from less than 10% to around the 30% mark in China or the 45% level of Brazil, we would see a new generation of icons like Narayana Murthy or Azim Premji emerge. We could soon see an Indian Google or a Facebook.
    This is our dream and we want all the wishes and support of people who believe in this dream.
     
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    #1 Guneet Kaur Khanuja, Feb 4, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2015