Success story of school dropout who became CEO of Quick Heal company

It is not everyday that one comes across a truly inspiring story of success, interwoven with hardwork, vision, judgment calls, and yes, the ability to spot opportunities. Kailash Katkar, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Quick Heal Technologies started his journey as a school dropout.

Despite being low on education and skill, Kailash Katkar has created a multi crore anti-virus software business.

Katkar gave up formal education after he passed the Secondary School Certificate examination in the mid-1980s because of his family’s circumstances. His father was a machine setter in electricals company Philips in Pune and his mother was a homemaker.

Katkar relied on his interest in technical matters to learn how to repair the then popular office gadgets such as Facit adding machines, desktop electric calculators and ledger posting machines.

Looking back, Kailash Katkar, started his entrepreneurial venture with a calculator repair business in Pune in the 1990’s.

When one door closes, another opens. It’s been like that right through Kailash Katkar’s life. Every time an opportunity looked like dimming, another emerged for him. He says his success was largely the result of his ability to sense changes in technology early.

Kailash Katkar explains his success story as told to Amit Shanbaug.

“I wasn’t interested in studies, had no special skills, only a small repair business These may not be the right qualifications for being an entrepreneur, but it has turned out well for me.

I started working on my own when I was in school. I always was on the lookout for jobs that could supplement my family income. I think it’s the drive to give myself and my family a better life that moved me on the entrepreneurial path.

In 1985, having barely managed to complete my matriculation, I took up a job at a local radio and calculator repair shop as I needed to supplement the family income. The owner sent me to his Mumbai shop for a two-month training and, subsequently, I returned to Pune to work for him for just 1,500 a month. I was only 19 and, over the next five years, I not only learnt a lot about fixing calculators and radios, but also picked up enough accounting skills to handle the books for my employer. In 1990,I felt confident enough to start my own calculator repair business with a seed capital of 15,000,which was drummed out of my savings. I leased a small 100 sq ft office in Pune and started a one-man venture.


In the first year, I managed a decent income of 45,000, but I was not satisfied with the progress I was making. I realised that one way to scale up would be to capitalise on the ongoing software boom. So I started reading about computer hardware, even enrolling for a short computer management course in 1991-92 to understand the basics of computer application. The classes were held in the evening, so my business did not suffer, and once I was sure I had my basics in place, I decided to venture into computer maintenance.

The idea was to take care of the entire repair work for an annual fee. In 1993, I finally started a new venture, CAT Computer Services, while continuing with the repair business. Generating business was a huge challenge initially since I had no work experience in the field. However, I did not lose hope and kept trying to woo customers aggressively. I got my first break a few months later when two families signed up for the maintenance of their personal computers for an annual fee of 2,000 each.

With some work experience to back me up, more work soon came my way. In September 1993, I managed to breach the corporate domain by bagging the annual maintenance contract for New India Insurance followed by another group a month later. I managed to generate a turnover of 1 lakh in 1993-94 and employ four people to manage and expand the business.

Around this time, my younger brother, Sanjay, who was studying computer engineering in Pune, began writing software programs. On my insistence, he started developing a basic model of antivirus software for us. In those days, the people involved in computer maintenance faced this problem and I realised that there would be plenty of takers for cheap and simple solutions.I started using the software we called it Quick Heal for my customers and sold it to other vendors making it one of the least expensive options available in the market.

But nobody was willing to pay for it. So it was distributed free with the computer AMC and also circulated it among their network of computer service professionals.

“Then came deadly viruses like One Half and Natash. Only our antivirus could decrypt the files they encrypted,” Katkar recollects, indicating that even the global big names in the antivirus business were not up to the task. “That was the birth of Quick Heal as a business idea — a solution that would reside on a machine and tackle problems as they cropped up.”

Before long, the anti-virus software became a big hit and my turnover for 1996-97 was 12.19 lakh, three times that for the previous financial year. In the following years, Sanjay and other hired software developers came out with more advanced versions of this software.By 2002,the business had grown to a point where we managed shift to a 2,000 sq ft office in Pune, which we purchased for 25 lakh.

Our first branch opened in Nashik a year later, followed quickly by several others across India. By 2005-6, we had diversified our product portfolio, moving beyond the anti-virus solutions. We covered the entire gamut, from security and tuner solutions, which focused on increasing computer speed, to mobile security and gateway level protection. Another milestone year for us was 2007,when we renamed the company Quick Heal Technologies.

Of course, there have been several setbacks along the way.

“There was a time when our employees were leaving our setup because they felt that our company was small and wasn’t growing or well-known. We realised that it was time we moved to a realistic idea and that’s when we decided to do away with the Maintenance Company tag. We lost a few customers because we were short staffed and could not meet our deadlines. We suffered losses and the cash crunch affected our product development and the process. Even no bank was ready to support us.

At one point, in 1999, the business was in such a bad shape that we considered shutting shop since we were not even in a position to pay staff salaries. Thankfully, we decided to delay the decision by a couple of months, and during this period our hard work pulled us out of the red.

Accepting challenges is not always easy, but if you have a “never give-up” attitude, you survive. You have to completely believe in your idea and give your 100% to it. Also if you are a good observer and can read the pulse of your consumers, you will know when and how to improve.

The infusion of 60 crore from the US based private equity firm, Sequoia Capital, in 2010,helped us expand our footprint internationally. In the past two years, our export turnover has been to the tune of 4% of our total business, and we hope to push it up in the coming years. Today,the company employs 610 people and has 23 offices in India. We also have a presence in nearly 50 countries across the globe. The sky is truly the limit for us.”

Visit this link to view his interview


Famous People Who Failed At First – II

Public Figures
From politicians to talk show hosts, these figures had a few failures before they came out on top.

Winston Churchill: imagesCAL5A729This Nobel Prize-winning, twice-elected Prime Minster of the United Kingdom wasn't always as well regarded as he is today. Churchill struggled in school and failed the sixth grade. After school he faced many years of political failures, as he was defeated in every election for public office until he finally became the Prime Minister at the ripe old age of 62.

Abraham Lincoln: While today he is remembered as one of the greatest leaders of our nation, Lincoln’s life wasn’t so easy. In his youth he went to war a captain and returned a private (if you’re not familiar with military ranks, just know that private is as low as it goes.) Lincoln didn’t stop failing there, however. He started numerous failed business and was defeated in numerous runs he made for public office.

Oprah Winfrey: imagesCACNS3E5 Most people know Oprah as one of the most iconic faces on TV as well as one of the richest and most successful women in the world. Oprah faced a hard road to get to that position, however, enduring a rough and often abusive childhood as well as numerous career setbacks including being fired from her job as a television reporter because she was “unfit for tv.”

Hollywood Types

These faces ought to be familiar from the big screen, but these actors, actresses and directors saw their fair share of rejection and failure before they made it big.

Charlie Chaplin: It’s hard to imagine film without the iconic Charlie Chaplin, but his act was initially rejected by Hollywood studio chiefs because they felt it was a little too nonsensical to ever sell.

Lucille Ball: During her career, Ball had thirteen Emmy nominations and four wins, also earning the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center Honors. Before starring in I Love Lucy, Ball was widely regarded as a failed actress and a B movie star. Even her drama instructors didn’t feel she could make it, telling her to try another profession. She, of course, proved them all wrong.

Marilyn Monroe: imagesCAJTG3JHWhile Monroe’s star burned out early, she did have a period of great success in her life. Despite a rough upbringing and being told by modeling agents that she should instead consider being a secretary, Monroe became a pin-up, model and actress that still strikes a chord with people today.

Writers and Artists

We’ve all heard about starving artists and struggling writers, but these stories show that sometimes all that work really does pay off with success in the long run.

Vincent Van Gogh: During his lifetime, Van Gogh sold only one painting, and this was to a friend and only for a very small amount of money. While Van Gogh was never a success during his life, he plugged on with painting, sometimes starving to complete his over 800 known works. Today, they bring in hundreds of millions.

Emily Dickinson: Recluse and poet Emily Dickinson is a commonly read and loved writer. Yet in her lifetime she was all but ignored, having fewer than a dozen poems published out of her almost 1,800 completed works.

Steven Spielberg: untitledWhile today Spielberg’s name is synonymous with big budget, he was rejected from the University of Southern California School of Theater, Film and Television three times. He eventually attended school at another location, only to drop out to become a director before finishing. Thirty-five years after starting his degree, Spielberg returned to school in 2002 to finally complete his work and earn his BA.

Stephen King: The first book by this author, the iconic thriller Carrie, received 30 rejections, finally causing King to give up and throw it in the trash. His wife fished it out and encouraged him to resubmit it, and the rest is history, with King now having hundreds of books published the distinction of being one of the best-selling authors of all time.

J. K. Rowling: jkRowling may be rolling in a lot of Harry Potter dough today, but before she published the series of novels she was nearly penniless, severely depressed, divorced, trying to raise a child on her own while attending school and writing a novel. Rowling went from depending on welfare to survive to being one of the richest women in the world in a span of only five years through her hard work and determination.


While their music is some of the best selling, best loved and most popular around the world today, these musicians show that it takes a whole lot of determination to achieve success.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Mozart began composing at the age of five, writing over 600 pieces of music that today are lauded as some of the best ever created. Yet during his lifetime, Mozart didn’t have such an easy time, and was often restless, leading to his dismissal from a position as a court musician in Salzberg. He struggled to keep the support of the aristocracy and died with little to his name.

Elvis Presley: As one of the best-selling artists of all time, Elvis has become a household name even years after his death. But back in 1954, Elvis was still a nobody, and Jimmy Denny, manager of the Grand Ole Opry, fired Elvis Presley after just one performance telling him, “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.”

The Beatles: Few people can deny the lasting power of this super group, still popular with listeners around the world today. Yet when they were just starting out, a recording company told them no. The were told “we don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out,” two things the rest of the world couldn’t have disagreed with more.

Ludwig van Beethoven: In his formative years, young Beethoven was incredibly awkward on the violin and was often so busy working on his own compositions that he neglected to practice. Despite his love of composing, his teachers felt he was hopeless at it and would never succeed with the violin or in composing. Beethoven kept plugging along, however, and composed some of the best-loved symphonies of all time–five of them while he was completely deaf.


While some athletes rocket to fame, others endure a path fraught with a little more adversity, like those listed here.

Michael Jordan: imagesCABIL7R4Most people wouldn’t believe that a man often lauded as the best basketball player of all time was actually cut from his high school basketball team. Luckily, Jordan didn’t let this setback stop him from playing the game and he has stated, “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Stan Smith: This tennis player was rejected from even being a lowly ball boy for a Davis Cup tennis match because event organizers felt he was too clumsy and uncoordinated. Smith went on to prove them wrong, showcasing his not-so-clumsy skills by winning Wimbledon, U. S. Open and eight Davis Cups.

Famous People Who Failed At First. – I

Not everyone who’s on top today got there with success after success. More often than not, those who history best remembers were faced with numerous obstacles that forced them to work harder and show more determination than others. Next time you’re feeling down about your failures in college or in a career, keep these famous people in mind and remind yourself that sometimes failure is just the first step towards success.

Business Gurus

These businessmen and the companies they founded are today known around the world, but as these stories show, their beginnings weren’t always smooth.

Henry_Ford_400 Henry Ford: While Ford is today known for his innovative assembly line and American-made cars, he wasn’t an instant success. In fact, his early businesses failed and left him broke five times before he founded the successful Ford Motor Company.

R. H. Macy: Most people are familiar with this large department store chain, but Macy didn’t always have it easy. Macy started seven failed business before finally hitting big with his store in New York City.

Soichiro Honda: The billion-dollar business that is Honda began with a series of failures and fortunate turns of luck. Honda was turned down by Toyota Motor Corporation for a job after interviewing for a job as an engineer, leaving him jobless for quite some time. He started making scooters of his own at home, and spurred on by his neighbors, finally started his own business.

Akio Morita: You may not have heard of Morita but you’ve undoubtedly heard of his company, Sony. Sony’s first product was a rice cooker that unfortunately didn’t cook rice so much as burn it, selling less than 100 units. This first setback didn’t stop Morita and his partners as they pushed forward to create a multi-billion dollar company.

Bill GatesimagesCA5BGSVS Gates didn’t seem like a shoe-in for success after dropping out of Harvard and starting a failed first business with Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen called Traf-O-Data. While this early idea didn’t work, Gates’ later work did, creating the global empire that is Microsoft.

Harland David Sanders: Perhaps better known as Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame, Sanders had a hard time selling his chicken at first. In fact, his famous secret chicken recipe was rejected 1,009 times before a restaurant accepted it.

Walt Disney: imagesCA11BT3K Today Disney rakes in billions from merchandise, movies and theme parks around the world, but Walt Disney himself had a bit of a rough start. He was fired by a newspaper editor because, “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” After that, Disney started a number of businesses that didn’t last too long and ended with bankruptcy and failure. He kept plugging along, however, and eventually found a recipe for success that worked.

Scientists and Thinkers

These people are often regarded as some of the greatest minds of our century, but they often had to face great obstacles, the ridicule of their peers and the animosity of society.

Albert Einstein:untitledMost of us take Einstein’s name as synonymous with genius, but he didn’t always show such promise. Einstein did not speak until he was four and did not read until he was seven, causing his teachers and parents to think he was mentally handicapped, slow and anti-social. Eventually, he was expelled from school and was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School. It might have taken him a bit longer, but most people would agree that he caught on pretty well in the end, winning the Nobel Prize and changing the face of modern physics.

Charles Darwin: In his early years, Darwin gave up on having a medical career and was often chastised by his father for being lazy and too dreamy. Darwin himself wrote, “I was considered by all my masters and my father, a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard of intellect.” Perhaps they judged too soon, as Darwin today is well-known for his scientific studies.

Isaac Newton: Newton was undoubtedly a genius when it came to math, but he had some failings early on. He never did particularly well in school and when put in charge of running the family farm, he failed miserably, so poorly in fact that an uncle took charge and sent him off to Cambridge where he finally blossomed into the scholar we know today.

Socrates: Despite leaving no written records behind, Socrates is regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of the Classical era. Because of his new ideas, in his own time he was called “an immoral corrupter of youth” and was sentenced to death. Socrates didn’t let this stop him and kept right on, teaching up until he was forced to poison himself.

These inventors changed the face of the modern world, but not without a few failed prototypes along the way.

Thomas Edison:imagesCALOPUOW In his early years, teachers told Edison he was “too stupid to learn anything.” Work was no better, as he was fired from his first two jobs for not being productive enough. Even as an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. Of course, all those unsuccessful attempts finally resulted in the design that worked.

Orville and Wilbur Wright: Wright brothers battled depression and family illness before starting the bicycle shop that would lead them to experimenting with flight. After numerous attempts at creating flying machines, several years of hard work, and tons of failed prototypes, the brothers finally created a plane that could get airborne and stay there.

Failures are Never Fatal – Learn from Life of Great People.


A candidate for news broadcaster’s post was rejected because of his voice. He was also told that with his obnoxiously long name, he would never be famous.
– He is Amitabh Bachchan.

A small boy – the fifth among seven siblings of a poor father, was selling newspapers in a small village to earn his living. He was not exceptionally smart at school but was fascinated by religion and rockets. The first rocket he built crashed. A missile that he built crashed multiple times and he was made a butt of ridicule. He is the person to have scripted the space Odyssey of India single handedly.
 – He is Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, the former President of India.


In 1962 for nervous musicians played their first record audition for the executives of the Decca Recording Company. The executives were not impressed. While turning down this group of musicians, one executive said “We don’t like their sound. Groups of guitars are on the way out”.

– The group was called The Beatles.


In 1944, Emmeline Snivley, Director of the Blue Book modeling agency told modeling hopeful Norman Jean Baker, “ You’d better learn Secretarial work or else get married”.

 – She went on to become Marilyn Monroe.


In 1954 Jimmy Denny, Manager of the Grand Ole Opry fired a singer after one performance. He told him, “You aren’t going nowhere, son. You ought to go back to driving a truck”.

   He went on to become Elvis Presley.

When this gentleman invented a communications machine in 1876, it did not ring off the hook with calls from potential backers. After making a demonstration call, President Rutherford Hayes said, “That’s an amazing invention, but who would ever want to see one of them ?”.

– He said this to Alexander Graham Bell.

 In the 1940s another young inventor named Chester Carlson took his idea to 20 corporations, including some of the biggest in the country. They all turned him down. In 1947, after seven longs years of rejection, he finally got a tiny company in New York , the Haloid Company to purchase the rights to his invention – an electrostatic paper copying process.  

– Haloid became the XEROX Corporation.

A 4 year old girl, 20th among 22 children, contracted double pneumonia and scarlet fever at a very early age, which paralyzed her left leg. Thereafter at 9 years of age, she removed her leg braces and started walking without them. At 13 she decided to become a runner – but kept failing miserably in all races that she entered in. She kept trying in spite of several detractors and finally started winning every race she entered.

 She is Wilma Rudolph, who went on to win three Olympic Gold Medals.

A school teacher scolded a boy for not paying attention to his
mathematics and for not being able to solve simple problems. She told him that he would not become anybody in life. His mother, however, believed him and coached him in math.
– The boy went on to become Albert Einstein.

Published in: on September 28, 2008 at 4:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A second life is all it takes to be a success


Forty-two year old Venkatesh was born to be an entrepreneur. While the faint hearted may have walked away in the face of adversity, Venkatesh, who developed cardiac problems due to heavy losses he incurred in his first entrepreneurial stint, didn’t lose faith in himself. Today, he is living a second life, as founder and chief executive of a Rs 3-crore clothing line.

The desire to carve a niche for himself in the challenging and often unforgiving world of business led this chemistry graduate to set up a manufacturing unit to supply sachets to an FMCG company, more than a decade ago. When the company shut down, the owners failed to settle dues worth Rs 47 lakh. 

   “Being a first generation entrepreneur, I was not able to understand how to handle the disappointment. I also had to cope with the issue of supporting my family,” he recalls.

Venkatesh and his wife Madhavi then moved in with her parents, which provided them some relief. Days of brainstorming later, they zeroed in on three areas where they saw opportunities in food, fun and clothing.

   Around that time, Venkatesh noticed a massive print campaign by a nightwear brand in local magazines and TV channels and sensed an opportunity there. Wife Madhavi suggested that they could create a line of comfortable home wear for women. “We felt there was a gap in the home wear segment as there weren’t many,” he says.

   Thus, Opus Fashions was born, and ‘Maybell’, an exclusive line of home wear for women. With no expertise in the area, Venkatesh approached NIFT in Chennai and managed and persuaded the batch topper Veena Chatraman to come onboard.

   “I also enrolled her in a crash course in garment design, basically to understand the structure of a garment, form, shape and colour,” he says. A friend of his father-in-law gave him a loan of Rs 5 lakh, which helped kick-start the business.

   The couple then created the infrastructure to start producing and supplying the garments. By a quirk of fate, when Venkatesh launched ‘Maybell’, he recalls he was “blown out of the market” due to “aggressive advertising” by the nightwear brand.

   Venkatesh followed suit by advertising his product in similar locations, albeit on a muted scale. Interestingly, while the other brand was not able to deliver on quality and soon lost favour with customers, Maybell gained a dedicated following.

   The Maybell line, which began with pyjamas, tops and nightwear now includes kurtas, kurtis, kids wear and men’s comfort wear in cotton and cotton-blends.

   Venkatesh stocked the garments at exhibitions, local retail outlets and multi-brand stores like Lifestyle, Globus and Shoppers Stop. Once a year, they conduct discount sales at various locations in the city. Today, Opus has two manufacturing units in Anna Nagar and also sources items from Tirupur and Mumbai. “Last year, we produced 1.8 lakh garments,” he says.

   The team comes up with 50 new designs across categories every month, and is now trying to reposition itself as a youth-oriented brand.
   Exclusive retail outlets have been planned in Chennai, and other locations as well in South.

Published in: on August 9, 2008 at 4:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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