We, at The Finance Story, had the opportunity to sit down for a tête-à-tête with Ashutosh Kharangate who is a CA by profession. He shares all about his past mistakes, becoming an Entrepreneur, struggles as a Goan CA, and how he successfully started his Business Advisory firm on Due Diligence in Goa, India. We also have a few tips for Goan CAs at the end!
Interest in ‘Due Diligence’
Even as a proud Goan, Asutosh Kharangate has a slightly different opinion about the Susegad concept. “It is supposed to mean lazy but I don’t believe that’s the case”, he adds. The term originates from the Portuguese word ‘sossagado’, which means a laid-back attitude. This term has been associated with the Goan people since the time of Portuguese territory.
Ashutosh has always dreamt of a career that would be different from a typical CA role which involves auditing and taxation. For this, he decided to move out of Goa and settle in Mumbai. Fortunately, he was able to find a job at one of the Big Four MNCs, PwC, as a Senior Associate. He further says, “I came to know about a process called ‘Due Diligence’ which was never really heard of ever before. It was an interesting concept for me knowing that it has to do with Financial checks of a company”.
After researching about Due Diligence, Ashutosh was convinced that it was something he was truly interested in. He laughingly adds, “I honestly hated the place (Mumbai) but loved the job”.
After his successful stint at PwC where he learned more about the process, he decided to return back to Goa and start his own company.
Starting a Business Advisory Firm in Goa
In Goa, Ashutosh decided to start his own Due Diligence and Business Advisory firm. This, of course, was not an easy task. Given the nature of CA and its limited scope in Goa, Ashutosh had to face a lot of challenges to become a successful entrepreneur. He was even ridiculed by his friends who questioned his business idea.
Goa was not ready for Business Advisory services but Ashutosh was persistent in offering the place what it lacked. So, on 1st August 2010, he finally launched his firm, Mangal Analytics and Research Consulting Pvt Ltd (MARC). As a form of dedication, he named it after his mother whom he lost while he was still working in Mumbai. Ashutosh had promised his mother that he would soon return to Goa and as a devoted son, he fulfilled his promises.
After a successful start to his firm, Ashutosh and his team are now working on three lines of services:
- Mergers and Acquisitions: helping companies prepare project reports concerning investments, valuation of companies, project feasibility studies, and market research.
- Developing Marketing Strategies: primary research for startups to understand whether it’s worth stepping into a new opportunity, product, service, or even new geography. Also, analyzing what kind of revenue that opportunity can generate, the profitability, etc., and developing marketing strategies accordingly.
- Financial Analytics: analyzing the performance of an on-going process or project on behalf of a company and working on SOPs.
When asked about the challenges he had to face while running a Business Advisory firm in Goa, Ashutosh strongly insinuated that “it’s a lack of awareness”.
“I felt it was on me to make the market understand what was the need of these things.” (H2)
With his experience in setting up his firm, he also mentions that there was a lack of knowledge about the price points at which Due Diligence services could work. Ashutosh adds, “I knew that I couldn’t survive solely on Due Diligence for long”. Therefore, at the same time, he started experimenting with profitability analysis where he analyzed the accounts, finances, commercials, and taxes for his clients. Soon after, the word spread about his business with recommendations from his satisfied clients.
MARC has now grown to a team of 30 finance enthusiasts and has a client size of more than 250 businesses across the globe! (H2)
Despite the oppositions and challenges, Ashutosh never thought about it as something which can’t be done. He always believed that by having faith in oneself and persevering through all the hurdles, success can be a guaranteed result.
[Today, Ashutosh Kharanghate has carved a path for himself and has shown his naysayers that with sheer persistence, anything is possible. Whether it’s introducing a new service that people have never heard of before or creating a demand for a product or service in a completely new geographic location.] (heading, H2)
Ashutosh explains, “there is no second to quality. If you know your game well and can deliver quality, I am sure things pick up from there.” (quote)
Mistakes as an Entrepreneur
Everyone makes mistakes along the way. But it is important to learn from them so that you never commit the same mistakes again. Ashutosh has a similar view on this. He describes entrepreneurship as a “learning journey”.
Although MARC took off early and people were receptive to the concept, Ashutosh says, “I am still not good in my marketing abilities, to be frank.” He believes that he could have done a better job at business development by adopting a sustainable marketing strategy in the initial stages.
Nevertheless, Ashutosh is quite happy with how the business has progressed over time. However, there are times even today, when people say that they never thought they would find Due Diligence services in a place like Goa. Ashutosh, is of course, adamant about changing this outlook and has been working on the right track.
As a fresh out of college graduate, you have a mindset of “do good work, then you will get the check, and people will praise you,” Ashutosh explains. But, this is far from reality and you learn as you grow is what he likes to believe.
“All these learnings happen over a period of time which makes you wiser.”
What MARC could have done better
Ashutosh’s dream has always been to employ 200 Goans in his company.
When asked what would he do differently if given a second chance, he responds, “I would definitely invest more time in creating more managerial level people.”
Ashutosh understands the discrimination against Goan students where they are thought to be not good enough. This forces them to believe in it and further refrains them from taking up responsible roles, such as that of a Manager.
He seeks to provide an opportunity to Goan students and hopes to guide them for their future, something which he never had as a kid.
Working Through The COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected businesses across the world. It was nature’s own experiment on the human race, as scientists like to call it. While big companies had to lay off several employees, other small businesses closed down.
It was interesting to note that despite the lockdown and the impact of the pandemic in Goa, Ashutosh has managed to pull MARC through the pandemic so far.
We wanted to know what measures he took to successfully work through the pandemic. “Despite the efforts, it was a challenge and business is bad”, says Ashutosh.
Previously, Goa saw a lot of revenue from its mining industry. But after a Supreme Court order, the industry closed down in 2012 directly impacting over 3 lakh livelihoods. It’s a no-brainer that with travel restrictions and lockdowns, Goa was again dealing with a financial crisis. It was worse because the state almost completely depends on tourism as an income source.
Ashutosh says, “It led to a disruption in the multiplier effect with hospitality industry directly depending on tourism. Even for a consultancy firm like us where we depended on tourism, there has been a massive impact.”
But, he likes to believe that even in the greatest adversity there’s always a way in the end. He suggests that this is a good time to focus on “co-living or co-working rather than over-relying on the conventional concept of hospitality”. As a business model, he proposes, “why don’t we do a sector on affordable housing or affordable living? People can come in to stay and work for a few days, like a subscription-based model.”
Advice for young CAs who want to work in Goa
In a territory like Goa, one has to understand where the gap is in the market. Ashutosh also comments on the lack of perseverance that he sees in most youngsters. “There is no substitute for that in terms of being an entrepreneur”, he says.
While we have several suggestions and guidance from Finance professionals, we wanted to specifically ask Ashutosh how one can establish their consultancy firm in Goa. Here’s what he has to say:
“You can’t expect to sit in your nice AC office and expect to grow. You have to break your back, you have to strive hard. There will be ups and downs. One day you would feel like the best of employees, have the greatest of clients, and cash flow would look fantastic. But the next day, you would see everything has gone down−the landlord gives you notice, two of your top clients have left, your team members have just left. Therefore, I strongly recommend three things 1) perseverance, 2) being flexible, 3) building relationships with clients.”
To wrap up, have patience and understand the dynamics of the market. Ashutosh, and we at The Finance Story, believe that once you implement these things, no one can stop you from succeeding!
The CA Story is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel and get updates with latest stories of finance professionals.