He's the man who is known for evangelizing not just the temporary staffing space, but also showing that recruitment firms were scalable that led to the evolution of the recruitment industry in India. K Pandia Rajan,Chairman & MD, Ma Foi Group, barely two years ago, managed to exit his venture Ma Foi Management Consultants to Randstad Holding. But it is not as if he's been quiet, this businessman-turned-politician has been busy setting up operations across his five businesses. He speaks to Shamni Pande of Business Today about what his plans of scaling up and creating fresh blueprint across the new verticals and how he's using his lucky charm - the brand name Ma Foi in all, but in the recruitment space.
Q-You have charted a journey from being an MBA to an MLA, what are your plans when it comes to your new ventures?
A- It has been a fulfilling journey. I am today a sitting MLA from Virudhunagar and continue to discharge my duties in representing my constituency. And I have been equally busy with my ventures that are now reaching a stage where I have something concrete to talk about. I managed to create scale in the recruitment space that was typically dominated by small firms. Now, I have initiated not one, but five ventures and I hope to achieve similar scale in some of these spaces.
Q- So what are your ventures and are you sticking to your Ma Foi brand?
A- Yes, we paid a premium to get the right for the Ma Foi brand and that really helped us in getting visibility. Of course, I have a non-compete clause when it comes to recruitment space and I have not used it in that sphere and will be able to use it fully only once the mandated three years are over.
However, we use it for our other ventures. We today have, Ma Foi Analytics and Research that was founded in 2012 and uses technology and cloud to help organizations take better decisions.
My second venture is in education and builds on the work we earlier did in business consulting and human capital domain. We offer management development programmes (MDPs) through Ma Foi Education Services and offer short-term certificates. This is a service we offer to organizations mostly and not so much to individuals, but there is no bar to individuals who wish to partake.
Then there is Ma Foi Connecting Dots that is a specialist firm focused on the SME segment in the manufacturing vertical and offers consulting on supply chain related issues. We have found a huge off-take for our service in the aerospace segment where many of the small auto component players are seeking to enter and need guidance on quality certifications and other processes.
Also, the small vendors in the auto original equipment manufacturing space need support in their strategy to create direct connect with the retail market. Under this venture we have also partnered with TISS to provide skill building in the automotive sector.
Ma Foi will act as an anchor linking industry, students and university and afford a chance to the high school dropout students to earn a vocational diploma/degree that will be awarded by TISS and AICTE while working in the industry.
Our fourth venture is Strategic Consulting in assisting organizations with aligning their vision and mission to their business goals and also assisting them with strategy on marketing, finance, HR and CSR consulting among others. Finally, our fifth venture is in micro finance and this is under the brand name of Varam.
Here, we started as a self-help group and are now one of the 33 licensed MFI by the RBI. We are in the small category and have a portfolio outstanding of a little over Rs 30 crore.
Q- Do you see them scaling up, also what about the talent in your own ventures?
A- Certainly! Our micro finance venture, Varam, is already listed as the fastest growing institution among the ones with small portfolio under disbursement. Our base is strong in Tamil Nadu and this has the ability to have national footprint and we are looking at entering other states as well. This is headed by my co-promoter and CEO Joby CO, who is experienced in the space.
When it comes to Ma Foi connecting Dots, we already have 40 clients across five locations and we follow the same hub-and-spoke model that we did with the recruitment space. It is important to have geographical proximity to the clients and their markets. Hence, we have presence in eight main locations and about 40 satellite centres.
Also, we have a team of three with one technical expert and another providing client and administrative support in every location. We have on board veteran such as Pradeep Chennamale who has more than two decades of experience in fluid power, automotive and aerospace segment. There is also Satyakam Mohanty who brings his expertise in analytics.
We follow a similar strategy that we had earlier in recruitment space where we brought in people who took a small equity in the ventures themselves.
With Ma Foi Analytics that is headquartered out of Bangalore we already have a good grip in the healthcare industry and have an office in Dallas and New Jersey and have clients in the Middle East as well.
Q- Are you looking at funding your ventures?
A- I am exploring funding options and are aiming to be a Rs. 1000 crore entity in the next two years. It took us eight years to reach that scale with our previous venture, but this time round we are looking at a faster pace of growth across our verticals.