Manek N Daruvala calls himself a self-taught entrepreneur who decided early in his career to bet on his passion for teaching. In the early 1990s, Daruvala took a call to give up his five-year fledgling corporate career in marketing and sales with the Godrej group. However, he did not rush to turn his vocation — teaching math and reasoning to graduate-level students in his spare time — into a full-time occupation overnight. Instead, he chose to play the long game.
Daruvala acquired an MBA degree from IIM-Ahmedabad and then the 28-year-old first scanned the market for MBA coaching classes in Mumbai and other major cities before zeroing in on Hyderabad. Why Hyderabad? “Real estate was cheaper, and there were no popular coaching brands in the city,” he explains. The presence of several well-established colleges potentially ensured a steady flow of MBA-aspirants as students.
Based on some basic back-of-the-envelope calculations of his business model, and relying heavily on his gut feel, he roped in his friend and colleague from Godrej, P Vishwanath, into the venture. Both of them relocated to Hyderabad in 1991 with a corpus of just Rs.24,000 — the partners brought in Rs.8,000 each, along with a loan from a friend. They kick-started their venture, the Triumphant Institute of Management Education (TIME), from a rented 150 sq ft office space in Secunderabad.
To ensure a steady flow of resources to the start-up, Daruvala took up a day-job in his newly adopted city, taking classes early in the morning, and in the evening after work. Vishwanath, meanwhile, dived full-time into the venture, preparing the course material as well as taking classes. Only when the student enrolment numbers grew over the next one year did Daruvala quit his job. “Under-commit and over-deliver — that worked for us,” Daruvala says of those early days.
They would promise students six ho