“Remember that if you fail, it is ok. Until you make mistakes, you will never learn. If you are not making mistakes, then you are not doing anything.”
“I wanted to run away on my 3rd or 4th day in Singapore because it was so hot and humid! Everything was so good except for the weather.” Ankit Kanodia fondly recalls his first few memories of Singapore, when he came to study Master of Science in Technopreneurship and Innovation (MSc TIP) at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in 2013.
Having studied in Manchester for 3 years, Ankit was not accustomed to the 35°C weather in this little red dot. Besides the distinct weather, Ankit also observed that the academic culture in Singapore is vastly different from what he was used to in the UK. Students in Singapore seem to be very driven and competitive in whatever they set out to do, and in any task that is placed before them. As someone who is determined to win and excel in whatever he does, Ankit appreciates that culture in Singapore.
Coming from an engineering background, the marketing seminars in MSc TIP caught the attention of Ankit. He finds it fascinating that in any market, the product or service you represent either makes you the best in the field, a low-cost alternate or just one among several others. Hence, how does one make sure that his/her product is noticed, when there are hundreds of others doing the same? His zealous curiosity and passion led him to discovering more ways to learn and excel in this field.
“There were many opportunities to participate in entrepreneurship activities when I was in Singapore. The first achievement was ideasinc Hackathon that a group of 4 of us won in 2013. Then we participated in Global Social Venture Competition held at Marina Bay Sands. Later that year, we also participated and got an opportunity to go to Thailand twice for the MAI – Bangkok Business Challenge & Asia Venture Challenge and ended up as finalists among teams from the 50+ universities participating in both competitions. The real highlight was that our startup business “Offstock Pte Ltd” was a real company with actual sales of over S$100,000 while competing with other entrepreneurs from different regions. So that was quite exciting and motivating.”
“We signed up for these competitions ourselves, and the programme funded and supported us in many ways.” The thing that Ankit valued, was that the professors and staff were very experienced. Their personal entrepreneurship journeys enabled them to give wise advice and real time business consulting to him and his team. Till date, he keeps in contact with many of his professors, classmates and staff, and meets up with them when he travels to different countries for his business.
Ankit currently heads the export sales in his family-backed company involved in manufacturing non-destructive testing (NDT) chemicals. The branch in India is managed by Ankit and his brother, with the parent company based in Germany. The German company did not have a great market presence in the Asian, Middle Eastern & African markets, and Ankit and his brother sought to position the product at the top in these markets. In a span of less than 12 months, they were doing active businesses with more than 15 countries and potentially expanding into newer manufacturing and distribution set ups in Australia and Nigeria this year.
“The skills that helped me do my job effectively are probably the innovation and marketing techniques that I acquired from my time in NTU. It is not easy to compete with global MNCs which have held a monopoly in the market for the last 50 years. It was a real challenge to position ourselves at the top of the global ladder backed by our constant incremental innovation philosophy. Today we are one of the most promising NDT chemical companies and we are featured in the Top 10 globally by siliconindia – a US-India technology magazine! We were awarded Global Excellence 2019 titled Best Specialist Surface Crack Testing Products Manufacturer by Acquisition INTL – UK.”
His job allows him to travel around the globe meeting people from different cultures, addressing crowds and today he holds a significant influence in the industry. Everything seems fascinating and fantastic, but Ankit reveals the different realities of this lifestyle that are often unseen by others.
“I will always remember this role play that we did during the MSc TIP. There were choices we had to make, between the work we were doing and certain aspects of our family-time that we had to sacrifice. I struggled in making the choice then, and it is still a challenge for me till to date. Most of my time is spent traveling for work leaving very little time with my family.”
Ankit mentions that work-life balance is definitely something he is still working on personally, and advises that it is something all entrepreneurs will face in their journey, both emotionally and physically.
His journey is like a rollercoaster having faced many failures before the current success. He did stock trading while at university and made a huge loss. After graduation, he set up a company with his friends, but they halted their business after a few months due to various reasons. When he went back to India and started an online third party procurement company, he failed in that too. Then he assisted his father in his company and could not perform well. In Ankit’s words, “Again, I failed”. Relentless, he started oil trading but failed. He decided to work for a chemical company but it got nowhere with his expected results and he deemed it as a failure.
Eventually when he started selling the same chemical product outside of India, he learnt how to navigate his way through people of different cultures. He found his confidence and discovered his strengths through the past failures. People started appreciating his efforts and were willing to pay a price for the products.
“I’ve gone through a series of failures and I can tell you that the grass always seems greener on the other side. But until you have tried, you will not know for sure. You learn from the failures. Failing fast is better compared to failing much later, as the cost of failure increases every time you grow.”
Ankit graduated with a Master of Science in Technopreneurship and Innovation from NTU. He is the Head of Export Sales of MR Chemie Pvt. Ltd., a joint-venture unit of his family and MR®Chemie GmbH from Germany, known worldwide for manufacturing consumables for Non-Destructive Testing. Located in Hyderabad, their manufacturing facility houses a dedicated R&D centre to support all activities from discovery to development.