India Now - page 49

services—the pioneer—Vivek Kulkarni.
In 2000, as the IT Secretary of
Karnataka, Kulkarni is credited with
reinstating Bangalore’s glory as the
Silicon City of India. In that year
Karnataka launched the state’s new
Millennium IT Policy—Mahithi—
aimed at taking technology to the
masses. The rest as they say is history.
Taking an early retirement in 2003
and rich insights, Kulkarni floated a
technical support centre—B2K (Bytes
to Knowledge). With clients like Yahoo
and Microsoft, the business was fine,
but the routine nature of
the work did not excite
Kulkarni. “I was convinced
that there was a market for
executive assistants,” he
says. With this conviction,
he started a small division
within B2K with just
five virtual assistants in
2004 and offered REA. In
2005, Kulkarni sold his
stake in B2K to launch
Brickwork India. B2K
by then had scaled into
a 400-employee strong
company and REA™
had gained Hollywood
success, thanks to author,
journalist and editor at
large at
A J Jacob. Jacob’s tryst
with outsourcing to
Brickwork India’s virtual
assistant Honey, and
Asha of another Indian
outsourcing firm,
inspired him to pen his
experiences in an article,
which then inspired the
My Outsourced
. Inspired by the book
The World is Flat
, Jacob
had decided to outsource
his life for a lark—from
writing mails to his
editor, buying grocery
to complaints against
his wife to writing his
articles. As he famously
said, he “outsourced his neurons”
and it proved to be the best move
ever. Notwithstanding this comic take
on outsourcing to virtual assistants,
what Brickwork had actually achieved
was instant fame and worldwide
recognition for the quality of its
services. The fact that Jacob’s efficient
virtual assistant was just a BCom,
did not take away from the enviable
IIT and IIM grad knowledge base of
Brickwork India. The outsourcing
craze was at its peak in the USA and in
2006, Brickwork India added another
feather to its cap when the Oregon
Senator Frank Morse, a Republican,
outsourced his speech on
The Impact
of Globalisation on Oregon Economy
to it. Yet, another novel territory had
been breached by the company, which
expanded the outsourcing areas with
each new assignment it undertook.
By 2011, Brickwork India too had
built a strong staff base of around 200
people and was serving 2,000 clients
across the globe ranging from sole
proprietors to Fortune 500 companies,
from its state of the art facilities in the
technology hub of Bangalore. “Our 10
year journey has been exciting and one
filled with learnings,” says Kulkarni,
adding, “We started with 5 REAs and
now have over 300 REAs with strong
leadership in place. In addition, the
company has a large ecosystem of
consultants and partner vendors, for
domain specific projects.”
Kulkarni’s experience of more than
30 years in building brand Silicon City
in different verticals but especially
as the Information Technology and
Biotechnology Secretary, wooing global
IT giants to set up bases in Bangalore,
had given him a sharp insight into
what offshore companies required
from Indian IT talent. The Wharton
Business School alum put to good use
his connections and his varied experi-
ence to later launch Brickwork Ratings
in 2008. Kulkarni gives the rationale
for this new venture, “I have always
been passionate about the world of
finance and being a Wharton graduate
in Finance, I set up India’s 5th and only
domestic credit rating company.”
Meanwhile, he continued innovating
the REA™ services with a vision to be
the world’s virtual office. The company
by now had firmly embarked on an
illustrious journey based on Kulkarni’s
creative insights. The flexibility of the
REAs with diverse skillsets is such that
they can be aligned to each client’s
requirements. It can be scaled down to
a support level for large organisations
and scaled up to a consulting level
for startups and entrepreneurs. “We
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