IMT Nagpur's Entrepreneur Akshay Patil: Listen to your Heart
Akshay Patil's brain child Akshar is a different kind of books lending library. His customers get a list of books available from which they choose their read and place orders over the phone. The books are then hand delivered at a pre-determined time. "This service is specially designed for a fast paced city like Mumbai and it allows people to read despite their busy schedules. From the response, we can tell that customers love it," Patil says, adding, "Customer recommendations are taken seriously."
Many of his library members can be found reading Akshar books on their long commutes. Books stimulate the imagination as they draw readers into unique webs of words, thoughts and stories, letting the reader roam freely through the pages losing himself in another world that involves intricacies of book plots.
Being an avid reader, Patil knows the beauty that lies within the covers of a book. It is a whole new world in there. "Books have shaped my life for the better. I was always fascinated by the success stories of entrepreneurs. They inspired me to take up entrepreneurship myself. While I was researching for ideas to start a venture, I realized that our locality did not have a decent library that catered to book lovers' needs." Bingo! An idea was born. Akshar was born.
Challenges come up every once in a while. Even setting up Akshar has its share of stress. What if it fails? What if it takes off initially, then stumbles and falls? An entrepreneur needs to keep a close watch on his bottom line all the time. Patil's biggest challenge came up when he had to "identify marketing channels that are cost effective but have mass reach," he says. "There's more. Akshar is not a cash rich venture. We always have to think of innovative ways to promote it. Coming up with 'out of the box' promotion ideas is challenging and exciting. Then, convincing the book vendors and dealers to give us discounts on our purchases has not been easy."
His day begins with sorting out the books that need to be delivered. Then he goes for meetings with housing societies that could bring him more clients. Evenings mean time for research and stock development. "The day ends with updating records of books dispatched, new customers made for that day, writing down notes and reminders of things that need to be done."
IMT Nagpur's MBA programme helped him develop his business and keep it organized and growing. "I learnt time management, team work, prioritization of tasks, communication skills and negotiation skills. The lessons learnt outside the classroom too have been the useful," he grins, adding, "Communication skills are the most important. They are what get your ideas across and help you develop your business."
Being an avid reader, Patil loves the fiction section in his library. Authors like Mario Puzo and Paulo Coelho have him turning the pages of their books, engrossed in the depth of their words with his imagination. "I also read autobiographies, self help/motivational books and historical books."
Senior citizens get memberships at reduced rates. "They are the happiest lot of our customers," he smiles.
In the next five years, Akshar is set to become a market leader in Mumbai. "With at least two branches in other cities," Patil is confident.