MSMEs don’t have IT Talent on their side: Vishal


Synersoft is one of India’s leading companies that focusses on creating ground-breaking and innovative technology solutions for small and medium enterprises. Synersoft technologies are focused at lowering the cost of IT infrastructure for SMEs and increasing their competitiveness through state-of-the-art IT standardization. Vishal Shah, Co-Founder and CEO, Synersoft Technologies Pvt. Ltd., in an interaction with TimesTech explain why the MSMEs are increasingly adopting Cybersecurity tech and why he chooses MSMEs as his target customer along with many industry insights.

TimesTech: Tell us about SynerSoft and how it got started.

Vishal: We started Synersoft in 2008 and we had a vision that India has a lot of MSMEs who are playing a very important role in the economy and they’re either exporters or they are basically suppliers to large enterprises, and being that, they need to adopt Information Technology, very rapidly and aggressively.

When we looked at products available for MSMEs, about how they can adopt Information Technology, those products were very complex and expensive in those days and we thought that MSMEs would not be able to adopt Information Technologies because the IT industry is making products, which are very complex and expensive. They’re meant for large enterprises, basically, that have a team of IT people, who have an entire strategy.

MSMEs don’t have it. So, we identified a gap that there needs to be a very simple and affordable product for MSMEs. MSMEs will need IT adoption at the same time, they will not have IT people on their side because IT talent does not want to work with MSMEs. They want to work with larger enterprises. Without the IT engineers’ help, they cannot adopt complex products. So, they need simple products which they can manage themselves. That’s how we conceive the black box.

In 2008, we started developing it. Our idea was let’s give them a single service, single hardware, and single software so that they can manage it on their own. And that’s how we thought that it will help them in making Cybersecurity more cost-effective.

So, for 4-5 years, we invested in Black Box and then we developed it in 2011. We got a gold medal from the government of India for our work on the development of the technology which is meant for MSMEs. This technology was identified as mass impact technology. We won a gold medal in the India Innovation Growth Programme which was organized by the Department of Science and Technology, University of Texas, Austin, FICCI, and the Indo-US Science and Technology forum.

After that, we were offered seed fund investment by the Department of Science and Technology through CIIE, which is the Center for Incubation Innovation and Entrepreneurship, run by the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, and then we started our scale-up Journey.

We sold our first Black Box Hardware in the year 2014, we have now reached thousands of deployments and Black Box basically saves a lot of cost for small and medium enterprises and helps them adopt the technology.

TimesTech: What are the products that SynerSoft offers to MSMEs?

Vishal: Yeah, so our flagship product is Black Box. So, Black Box is offered in three different variants. The first variant is on-premise, you know, very small MSMEs who do not have a remote user, they can add up the product which is Black Box. We call it Black Box Turbo T. This particular product is used by MSMEs and is on-premise.

Some MSMEs have very small sizes of files and they have a large number of remote users. Another mode of adoption of Black Boxes is on the cloud. So, we call it a Black Box One Cloud where the entire product is installed on the cloud and MSMEs remote users can use the product on the cloud itself.

The third adoption is hybrid. Some MSMEs have very large files, like design engineering files and drawings, etc., they need something on-premise, so that files are saved very fast, and they also need something on the cloud. So that the remote users can collaborate. So Black Box Hybrid is the product for them. So, in a way, there are three products, Black Box Turbo T (on-premise), Black Box One Cloud (on the cloud), and Black Box Hybrid (on-premise and cloud).

TimesTech: Why did you choose MSMEs as your target customer?

Vishal:  Any business has to basically have a very large Target segment, okay? So, MSMEs, when we started, there were 26 million MSMEs registered. Right now, that number is around 50 million MSMEs. So, it’s a very large Target segment so it has a very large Market.

Second these MSMEs don’t have IT Talent on their side and they need to adopt IT as much as any large enterprise would. So, we thought that there is a very big gap, which we can fill and that’s how we choose the MSME segment.

TimesTech: There is this data loss, prevention, and fraud prevention earlier limited to the big corporates. So why it now important for MSMEs is to adopt these things?

Vishal: MSMEs are basically suppliers to be corporates. So, if you talk about any auto ancillary product, Mercedes or Tata, or Mahindra, they get their parts manufactured by MSMEs. They are the vendor development program. So earlier this kind of data loss, leakage, and theft prevention was very much required by the large enterprise but as they extended their supply and value chain, they had to involve MSMEs in that. So, let’s say, a very large automobile company shares a design with an MSME, and that design is stolen from their vendor, you know, everybody gets affected. So that’s why now, they are making compliance standards for their vendors. That’s how MSMEs are required to follow compliance for data loss, leakage, and theft. 

The second thing is these MSMEs have their IPR are their products, and they need to make sure that it is also protected. I would say MSMEs are contributing to Indian exports in a big way. They’re contributing to our GDP. So they are part of the ecosystem and they need to protect themselves from loss, leakage, and theft. And that is the reason this Market is emerging and it is growing at a very, very rapid rate.

TimesTech: As you said, the security products were very complex and they were expensive. So, how does SynerSoft simplify these products for the MSMEs?

Vishal: When these products were designed for a large Enterprise, they were designed for large-scale usage and it was assumed that the person who is going to handle those products, would have an IT background. So, these products have hundreds of features. Now, MSMEs are using IT products on a very small scale. And at a smaller scale, they don’t need so many features a large-scale industry would require.

I’ll give you an example. Firewall, every firewall is bundled with multiple bandwidth management. It is bundled with load balancing. MSMEs use hardly one bandwidth. They don’t have inbound traffic so they don’t need all these features. So, we identified 20% of the features which we thought would be desired and used by the MSMEs very effectively.

So, by reducing the number of features we have made it cost-effective, and when there is less number of features, that product or software required, lighter infrastructure to run itself. So that hardware cost also went down. That’s how we made it cost-effective and because there were less number of features, MSMEs could very well use that. So, it became simple also.

TimesTech: Does SynerSoft give the option to customize the product at the MSMEs’ end?

Vishal: Yes, we have around 36 models of the product. So, it is from 20 users, 40 users, 70 users, 100 users, and 150 users like that. So, there are such different models and inside every model, MSMEs can customize the products. Like if MSME is using AutoCAD or SolidWorks very large files, you know, in that case, they can customize the box with NVME caching or link aggregation of the LAN Network. Similarly, they can also define the storage accordingly and so there are a lot of customization options hooked on Hardware as well as one configuration.

TimesTech: What is the current scale of operation of sign SynerSoft?

Vishal: Right now, we are around 128 people strong company. We are close to 1 million US dollars in recurring revenue and we have a 95% of subscription renewal rate from all our customers. We are cash positive since we started almost and we are growing at almost 40 to 45 percent year-on-year.

TimesTech: What are your future projections, moving forward, for the company?

Vishal: We are now migrating towards Cloud. So basically, whatever our on-premise offering was there it would be available on the cloud. We are heavily investing in it. So, basically, in the next five years, we would achieve growth of at least 20X because when we go on the cloud, the deployment and scalability are exceptionally easy and now MSMEs are Pro Cloud. Earlier, they were cloud averse. So, this is our plan to offer all our services on the cloud.

TimesTech: My last question is, as you have said, you are focusing more on the cloud, but the trend has started towards the endpoint. Endpoint is more secure in the terms of data and it provided various benefits when compared to Cloud. So, what do you think, we’re the MSMEs will go?

Vishal: I agree with you. An endpoint is the most secure one. Right from the beginning when we started, we always had an endpoint. So right now, also, the black box is deployed in two parts. One is the endpoint and another one is the hardware part. This Hardware will only move to the Cloud and Endpoint will remain as it is. So, we call it a single agent, single service, or single Cloud product. All our offering is with the Endpoint. Customers are getting Endpoint as well as Cloud. Most of the time when they go to public Cloud systems, they don’t get Endpoints. That is where we have a competitive advantage. So, we are providing an endpoint and we are going to stick to the endpoint strategy and which will make us superiorly secure.