A Tribute to Late Manoj Kumar Sharma, CEO Speakasia, INDIA

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Information about A Tribute to Late Manoj Kumar Sharma, CEO Speakasia, INDIA
Business & Mgmt

Published on March 19, 2014

Author: AmanPost

Source: slideshare.net

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You will be in our hearts forever.

Who is Manoj Kumar Sharma? Zafar Anjum | Jan. 17, 2014 - See more at: http://www.cio-asia.com/mgmt/legal/who-is- manoj-kumar-sharma/#sthash.G18uAX3V.dpuf

A born entrepreneur, India's Manoj Kumar Sharma started his business forays at a very young age.

In the summer of 1977, when still in high school, he embarked on his first business idea. Hitting upon the fact that a lot of government employees could not avail the leave travel allowance (LTA) due to shortage of funds, he ingeniously put together a programme which allowed the traveler to undertake his entire trip within the budget by travelling by a Bus. This later came to be known as a LTC bus and till date is very popular amongst holiday goers.

As part of his professional career, he joined a computer company called PCL in 1984. It was here he possibly brought in an innovative way of transactions with the government agencies. He convinced the then government superstore called Kendriya Bhandar to stock his company's products. What this allowed the government institutions to do was to buy products from this superstore with going the long and tedious tendering process which was fraught with lacuna.

In 1990, he decided to turn into an entrepreneur and joined the board of a company called CMS and became its director of marketing. Here, along with another co-worker, he laid out a plan to revamp the entire road signaling system of India. A majority of the traffic lights in the country are even today upgraded and maintained by CMS.

In 1994, Sharma started his own company called Lanbit along with a friend. This company started a new distribution methodology where the sub- distributors imported the products directly from the factory, thereby inducing transparency and brining down the cost of operations dramatically. He also brought in a unique product called as CD-Serv for library automations.

While Lanbit was doing well, he launched his next venture Tulsient. He now launched a VOIP service called Our Free Phone, an Internet based telephony company. Tulsient also became a premier software company in the area of developing software for the direct marketing industry and also used to maintain the websites of clients across the world. In 2009 he launched his largest project ever, SpeakAsia Online, which is now facing a ban in India.

Zafar Anjum (Author) with Late Manoj Kumar Sharma On December 24 last year, when most people in Singapore carried on with their lives in a festive mood, preparing to celebrate Christmas, I was walking towards a hospital to meet a terminally-ill patient. The patient in question was Manoj Kumar Sharma, 53, the CEO of SpeakAsia. SpeakAsia, a Singapore- registered e-commerce company, has been in the eye of a scandalous storm in India since 2011.

Sharma had contacted me a year ago and we had met at a café in Orchard Road. My nonfiction book, The Resurgence of Satyam, had just been published in India and Sharma wanted me to write a book on the SpeakAsia story.

Sharma is a tall and lanky Mumbai-man who has an oval face with a prominent moustache. Sharma's contention was that while the government had hastily moved in on his company and was in a hurry to declare it an illegal outfit, he wanted to tell his story- explain his business model and prove that it was not a Ponzi scheme. India's people, and especially the 2.4 million of his company's panellists (consumers and supporters), deserved to hear his side of the story as, so far, Indian media had not given him a fair chance, he said.

At that time, I had not heard of SpeakAsia at all. What was his story exactly? And was it worth telling? I was not so sure about it.

In our first meeting, Sharma tried to convince me that his story deserved a telling and that more than anything else, he wanted to restore his reputation. His family, he said, did not deserve to live with the ignominy of being related to a swindler.

His wife was in Mumbai and police had impounded her passport. He could not travel to India for fear of getting arrested. All his companies' bank accounts in India had been frozen. And he did not have much longer to live. He was in a limbo, a man on the run, living on borrowed time. It had all the elements of a compelling narrative.

I was hooked to the story. I wanted to hear more about it. However, right after doing the Satyam book, I was not keen to spend a few more months doing another book on another scam in India. The timing also did not seem to be right as the police were still investigating the case.

After the police filed the provisional charge sheet against SpeakAsia on 19 December, Sharma contacted me again to provide an update.

That's when I met him again in a Singapore hospital. When I entered his room, he lay supine on a bed, reading a book. He welcomed me with a smile and sat back. He seemed to have lost more hair and looked thinner.

Source : http://www.cio-asia.com/mgmt/legal/who-is-manoj-kumar-sharma/ http://www.computerworld.com.sg/tech/industries/the-speakasia-story-e-commerce

A TRIBUTE from Aman Azad {Excerpts from Zafar Anjum’s blog}

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