Starting Your Own Tech Business: A Conversation with B.M. Harwani about Founding Microchip Computer Education
InformIT: What's the name of your business, and what do you do?
B.M. Harwani: I run a computer education center at Ajmer (India) by the name of Microchip Computer Education (M.C.E). I act as a director, manager and senior faculty for the center. I make sure things run smoothly. Also, I take out time to give at least two lectures per day.
InformIT: Why did you decide to start your own business?
B.M. Harwani: There are three reasons:
- I like teaching. It gives me great pleasure to solve problems and answer queries from my students.
- Ajmer (my home town) is a small place, so there were no well known computer education centers. Students used to go to nearby big cities for quality computer education. I thought I would try and use my talent and communication skills to teach computers.
- After my B.E. in Computer Engineering, I did a job for two years in New Delhi; during that time, I observed the major demand of computer organizations. I saw and got a clear picture of what topics in software and hardware the organizations wanted to see in the people applying for the job. I faced so many interviews that I came to know what courses and content will make the students' job easier. I decided to start my own computer education center, since I wanted the liberty to customize the course as per the market requirements without seeking anybody's permission.
InformIT: How long have you owned your own business?
B.M. Harwani: I started my computer education center in 1994. Hence, I have been running my computer education center for 19 years. I have learned something new every day during these long 19 years.
InformIT: What makes your business different from other companies?
B.M. Harwani: I frequently customize my classes and add content as per the latest updated software versions. Also, I keep on adding new courses on the basis of the job market's requirements. In addition, I use visual technology (projectors, audio and video) to make the education simple and entertaining, and I'm always open to student's suggestions.
InformIT: What are the best things about working for yourself? And the worst?
B.M. Harwani: The best things about working for myself are numerous. The feeling that this organization is mine is itself sufficient to uplift my heart and soul. No words can express the pleasure of seeing the organization grow. I am free to make decisions that benefit the students and the organization and there is no need to seek permission from anyone else.
The worst things about working for myself includes several things. The financial burden, for example. When there is loads of work, time to socialize is reduced. You also have to make investments in maintaining the organization and implementing security. The worst part is the time that you are supposed to spend with your family gets diverted, and, for example, is spent on making notes and preparing for lectures. Maintaining equilibrium between the business and personal life can be painful.
InformIT: What advice would you have for someone who wants to create their own business?
B.M. Harwani: First off, study the feasibility of your business. Do lots of paperwork on pros and cons of the business, and don't hurry. Study the competition and write down what you are going to do better in order to succeed. Remember, if you are not providing something new and current and you are not better in terms of quality, price or technology, you are going to lose to the competition.
InformIT: How has your industry changed since you started?
B.M. Harwani: Every day, new programming languages are coming up. I need to judge their demand and update the course accordingly. There are also new versions of existing software. In this industry, you cannot say that you are up to date, because with the next version your notes become obsolete. Also, new frameworks and IDE keep emerging, and I have to include a reference to them in the curriculum.
InformIT: What has been the greatest challenge you've faced in owning your own business?
B.M. Harwani: Dealing with marketing, creating awareness, and burning the midnight oil to make the best notes ever.
InformIT: What has been your greatest accomplishment since starting your own business?
B.M. Harwani: I have the maximum number of 'O' & 'A' Level qualifiers, which are very tough exams offered by the Department of Electronics and Accreditation of Computer Classes (DOEACC) in India. I have also written several books on different computer subjects, of which five are extremely successful.
InformIT: What are your favorite applications or web products?
B.M. Harwani: I love working with Netbeans, Visual Studio, Android Studio, MySQL, Sqlite, PHP and JSP. I also love working on my blog and writing articles for different web sites.
InformIT: What technology trend in the last five years has taken you by surprise?
B.M. Harwani: For one, the launching of a huge number of open source web application frameworks. Another is that developers and professionals are leaning more and more towards small screen devices. Every organization wants its presence on smartphones and tablets.
InformIT: Did your business help you write your books, or did the books help you start your business?
B.M. Harwani: Both help tremendously. I find that it is very practical to learn the requirements of a book reader by teaching subjects and observing the queries asked while teaching the classes. In the books, I include answers for all of the queries I’m asked in lectures.
InformIT: Thank you for answering our questions. I hope that readers will have a deeper understanding of your business and the process behind your books.