In recent times, India is considered as world’s favourite marketplace for Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). According to Saurabh Srivastava, Co-Founder & Former Chairman of NASSCOM, India’s BPO industry is expected to increase to a whopping $250 billion by 2020. If the rural areas can get even one percent of this pie, it’ll revolutionize the rural economy. Spotting this potential, several companies took birth in a quick span of time to claim a portion of the pie in BPO realm. While these companies lacked the understanding of the industry and dived into things without a cohesive plan, 31 Parallel – located in the picturesque mountain town of Shimla – offers turnkey BPM/outsourcing services to all over the world. The services include Sales – voice (inbound & outbound calling) and chat; Customer Care & Post Sales – (inbound & outbound calling), chat and email; Mortgage – (email and back office); Finance & Accounting and Data Management & Sanitization – back office. The company employs the latest tools, methodologies and process knowledge.
31 Parallel was the dream venture of Vivek Parmar and Karan Pal Singh Chauhan (first cousins), Co-Founders who spent their formative years in a premier boarding school, Bishop Cotton in Shimla and later moved into bigger cities and abroad for higher education and work. The duo always wanted to get back to their roots and do something there and thus, was born the idea of creating an all-inclusive enterprise where hundreds of youth could be involved. 31 Parallel started its operations in the year 2014 with four associates working with a U.S. client doing internet marketing when Vivek and Karan were on sabbaticals from their regular corporate jobs. The duo with their creative thinking and zest to make it big brought Shimla on the Indian outsourcing landscape and provided employment opportunities to youth in the hill state where jobs were hard to come by. Today, the bootstrapped startup stand out in a crowd of competitors with 370+ employees (probably the single largest BPO and one of the largest private employers in the state servicing Indian market leaders). The success saga of the enterprise doesn’t end here. The company endeavours to provide top-notch quality outputs at low cost leveraging an absolute blend of the unbeatable combination of skilled resources and global corporate experience. Armed with excellent communication skills and competitive pricing, 31 Parallel is positioned as disruptors from a Tier-III city in this sector.
“31 Parallel is named after the 31°N latitude that passes through our office in Shimla. Our pitch is that while Shimla is based on this latitude, obviously the parallel goes around the world. Just like that, we are utilizing local talent found and developed by us for processes which are operating globally,” affirms Vivek. “Since its inception, 31 Parallel has decidedly played an important role in the rural/Tier-II/Tier-III BPO domain. We have successfully recruited over 370+ people across our two centres servicing market leaders. Our growth story with our current clients is an indicator of their satisfaction,” further adds Karan. Today, 31 Parallel is transforming Shimla into a viable BPO destination for both talent and clients.
Customer Centric Thinking
While most agencies share a vendor-client relationship with their customers, 31 Parallel’s customer-centric thinking set them apart from the rest. The company’s first international client was in SEO/SMO/Internal Marketing space who took a leap of faith based on references and co-founder’s professional past credentials. Similarly, GRNconnect, company’s first domestic client took a chance and outsourced their processes for the first time. The most encouraging part of all is that 31 Parallel is still partnered with its first international and domestic clients. After four years, the enterprise wows some of its biggest clients that include some of the largest online travel companies and couple of e-Commerce players and start-ups. “With marquee names mixed with some emerging names and a developing brand name, business development activities are easier but retention of business (which is as important as acquisition of business) is purely on the quality of output. We have been able to acquire and retain business as we continue to strengthen our partnerships,” says Vivek.
Battles Won Over
The two pillars for any IT/ITes sector company are (a) the human resources it deploys, and (b) the IT/Telecom infrastructure which assists with the delivery of its services. Initially, 31 Parallel faced challenges with the former category. To begin with, there was no real corporate presence in Shimla prior to the establishment of the company. Some of the larger Indian companies have offices, however, not significant enough to change the town’s corporate culture. Majority of the company’s senior and middle leadership have had vast corporate exposure of over 7-8 years each in the metros which they have been able to bring home and impart. Initially, the absence of such a culture was obvious from the discipline, dress code, business hours and corporate etiquette, followed by the personnel but with relentless concentrated training, sessions and now tenure and exposure, 31 parallel has been able to initiate the foundations of a strong corporate culture.
While some minor challenges still remain, the overall positive impact is now reflected in company’s own office setup, various employee initiatives, communications, client satisfaction and every other aspect of its operations. “IT/Telecom companies have supported us and indulged us when we were just a handful. Currently, we have now one of the most reliable and extensive IT/Telecom infrastructures in the state. A hybrid of sorts, the best of both the old and new worlds is being created and given our considerable numbers, we know that it will positively spread throughout,” adds Karan.
Great Corporate Culture
31 Parallel follows two clear approaches towards nurturing the workforce and managing the work (a) ‘Local Talent for Global Processes’ – For high-quality outputs, the capability of the workforce is enhanced through ongoing orientations and training programs. The endeavour is to manage processes at all complexity levels and (b) ‘We are all in this together’ – A sense of shared responsibility is the best way to ensure motivation at all levels. This thought permeates throughout the organization and is reiterated frequently. The success of this enterprise depends upon imbibing the overall vision and working towards it.
31 Parallel’s Pillars of Strength
The success mystery of 31 Parallel is unveiled. Dedicated & committed workforce that leads to high quality outputs, patient clients that are devoted to the partnership model of running their processes at the company, proficient management team with years of corporate & relevant BPO experience, experienced supervisors & support staff, extensive internal soft skill & personality development programme for staff, and open door policy, transparency & the spirit of ‘being in it together’ factors are the pillar of strength that made 31 Parallel a horse of a different colour.
En route to a Shining Future
31 Parallel was recently awarded the STPI Award 2018 for ‘Best Performer in Incubation’ at TiECon-2018 in Mohali. The event was organized by the Software Technology Parks of India (STPI), a society set up by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Government of India along with The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE).The growth of the entire Tier-II/Tier-III ecosystem is crucial for India’s growth. As employment and spending power in India increases, domestic demand will also proportionally grow. 31 Parallel is poised to meet this demand. The company intends to lead the entire Tier-II/Tier-III BPO space in India with its quality of work and competitive pricing. 31 Parallel envisions becoming a 600+ member organization in next two years dealing with more complex and high-end work with a niche in the financial and legal outsourcing space as well. Post-2019, the company is looking forward to making inroads into other district headquarters in Himachal like Solan and Nahan. The company is also planning to partner with the Government on certain projects in the near future. Developing some technology products for the benefits of its clients is also on the cards.