Sriram Manoharan - You Need a Team to Win Any Battle (Founder & MD - Contus)

I strongly believe it’s the urge and desire in every human heart to vision their future more important than any fancy degree. There can be many graduates but there can only be a handful of successful entrepreneurs. 

Tell us about your background, journey, and upbringing.

I am a typical North Chennai guy who moved on settling down at Porur with my family of wife and kids. I graduated with a B.Com degree from Loyola. Basically, I am a sports enthusiast who ventured into computer science to learn about networking, servers, coding, and developers to understand the nuances of technology. 

Being from a middle-class family, Becoming an entrepreneur had always been my dream. With no financial support for my dream, I got my first job opportunity at a factory in Bombay with the help of my friend. 

From a contractual opportunity at WIPRO to TCS to IBM, I have worked my way of learning through software and technology. At the age of 27, I was given the responsibility to manage around 800 odd employees in IBM. This responsibility at such a young age aided me to envision my future towards progress, responsibility, and growth.

When and how did you get clarity on what you wanted to do?

No matter where I was, the idea of becoming an entrepreneur was always raging in me. With a team of friends, I could see a desire for a business in each of us. So we decided to invest in small amounts as funds and took the next big leap of our lives. 

It was a huge gamble to quit our jobs and pursue entrepreneurship. With hard work and hunger for success in our eyes, we rented small office space in the suburbs and set our business plan rolling. There was no big support from anyone and the initial business funds dried up with a failure. 

After seven months of a dry patch, we finally tasted success with our first project for 50 dollars. In business, you get to see failures and dark patches. But you must have the perseverance to sustain in any business to make it work.

Set your goals, be ready for failures, and develop the patience to sustain the turbulence in your way. Sales and Marketing are two main aspects of a business that I started to learn to fuel my business.

That’s how CONTUS happened into a reality. With more than 300 employees, CONTUS is a multi-million-dollar business company in more than 12 countries across the world that started as a small dream inside me. 

As a founder of CONTUS, I see every day as a learning situation to keep ourselves evolving and improvising. I owe this success to the trust that we as a team of friends have in each of us.

Moving forward in our endeavors, we are opting to enter into the B2C sector with our latest OTT platform GudSho. I see much scope in South India for offering personalized and selected content for specific target viewers. 

This made me envision an OTT streaming platform GudSho to bridge this gap by reaching out to the rural market and exploring their maximum potential. I believe in giving a one-of-a-kind theatre experience to the viewers of GudSho for unlimited regional entertainment.

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What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs or those eyeing the top job?

From my business journey, Firstly, I will suggest you see where your heart lies. You have to remember that Every big thing once started with smaller things. Your heart will take you where you desire to and put your heart wholeheartedly no matter what the job may be in your life. 

Secondly, you have to understand sales and marketing to become an Entrepreneur as it forms the foundation for your business plan. Thirdly, It is God's gift to have a good team behind you who keep pushing you at all times to strive harder. 

You need a team to win any battle and it can be your family, friends, or partners but you need to work as a team to excel. Finally, it is important to sustain with time, analyze the failures, and read your progress as it brings in a great deal of confidence inside you to progress further.

Several global companies have come out and thrown their support behind not needing a formal education. What is your opinion about this?

I strongly believe it’s the urge and desire in every human heart to vision their future more important than any fancy degree. There can be many graduates but there can only be a handful of successful entrepreneurs. 

The business has no relation to graduation but it does have a stronger relationship with your hunger for knowledge to adapt, learn, improvise, and analyze the market standards. 

Most of the achievers in history were not privileged enough to have a formal education yet they have conquered and that’s because of their strong desire to achieve, dream, and bring change.

What does your typical workday look like?

My day begins with planning as I feel planning is an integral aspect to achieve your goals and objectives. Scheduling the day effectively keeps me one step ahead in reaching my goal, be it personal or professional. 

Apart from my daily work tasks, I make it a habit to have meetings with my stakeholders, and the core team of my company. A company is like a tree and I trust in having good communication with the roots, leaves, and branches of my company as it makes it stronger with every passing day.

There are review meetings with the sales, marketing as well as tech team to understand the progress and vision for our future goals. 

In every meeting, I take the role of being an observer and let my employees do the talking as I feel their thought process must be natural, independent, and spontaneous irrespective of any influences even though I participate in the meetings.

It is mandatory to give space to your teams for unlocking their potential. Once I finish my meetings, I go ahead with a discussion with the board members or board of directors, to have an update as a collective team, analyzing, speculating, and sharing knowledge that drives CONTUS to grow. 

To put it simply, every day of my work is a learning process as each day gives me the insight to see a different dimension of progress in my company.

What are some of your typical challenges and how have they evolved?

I have seen so many challenges ever since the dream of becoming an entrepreneur came to me. Every day there will be a new set of challenges to face and that’s what keeps me competing and working hard to deliver. 

During the start, the challenges were basically about sustaining the struggles in
business in terms of investment, work, returns, profit, sales, cash flow, trust, and sometimes even paying my workers their salary was a struggle. 

And that’s how a business evolves from a small seed to a tree. You have to withstand every weather and hardship. In addition to MirrorFly and Vplayed, we are now stepping ahead with our new entertainment product GudSho. I can see an evolution of the challenges in terms of their depth.

  • Growth is one common challenge that most businesses face when they are rolling as managing growth is a herculean task and it needs constant attention. I feel the more productive my business grows, the more attention I need to give it to streamline it.
  • People management is essential as I as a CEO must be aware and concerned about managing my workforce to their effective best.
  • Streamlining cash flow and profits is a key challenge that I watch out for as it keeps the business running amidst any situation.
  • Consistent delivery of sales and marketing is the topmost challenge and I always insist on the ways to tackle the hardships that arise in the market.
  • Proper execution of new strategies, plans, and Projects like GudSho or any future venture needs an organized manner of leading, and evaluation of such future plans are necessary for growth.
  • Planning and Communication are the foundations of tackling any challenges that arise in business. I believe in a strategic plan for future growth and an effective meeting plan for top-notch output. Be it pandemic or any situation, I emphasize effective communication for overcoming any business challenge.
  • Focussed thoughts have always helped me deliver clear results. I avoid a lot of re-work and save time when I’m focused on my vision.
  • Strategies are a must in my planner for overcoming the shortfalls in my business. I work with my team on devising effective strategies to foresee future problems in the growth of my business and will make sure we tackle them as a team.


Which is your favorite book and why?

I would say that Books are an ocean of wisdom and life values for every person to get the light in any dark situation of their lives. Good books have healed me, nurtured me, and set me on my track. 

I have a huge collection of books to share with you but to name two favorite books in recent times, I would say,

A.) “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand- A book that has constantly been among the top 100 reading list and a literary masterpiece that has fascinated my mind. In this book, Ayn Rand simply glorifies the right of every individual to live a life entirely for their interest of thoughts. 

I am sure you will end up questioning the qualms of this society and have changed perceptions over rich-poor definitions. 

To give a glimpse of what this book can offer you, the story is about how privileged and rich industrialists or powerful superhumans must eradicate the normal mortals to bring a paradise for self-centered and selfish people who like the same things as Ayn herself. 

The characters are unique and the descriptions will make the story appear right in front of your eyes. In the end, when you finish reading the book, you will end
up having a hope of a better world than in 1984.

B) “From the third world to first" by Lee Kuan yew- A brilliant book that illustrates the geopolitical conditions of the world over the past 50 years in a factual, clear, and raw manner. 

It gives the readers an insight into the building of a nation, covering various topics on the economy, labor, history, union, people, politics, and modern society. The book is equipped with an outspoken, refreshing, and honest take on the world than any other political chronicles. 

I would suggest you read it for getting an in-depth socio-political understanding
of your surroundings. I believe every individual must be politically aware of their
surroundings to understand how our system works and performs. 

Personally, I was quite impressed by the transformation story rendered by the great, charismatic, and controversial leader Lee Kuan Yew. I’m happy to share these two books and hope you get the same feeling that these books have
bestowed on me.

How do you handle someone who has lied on their resume?

To start with, I prefer to make an interview session sound like a personal conversation between two individuals and make it a knowledge-sharing session that becomes a learning process for the improvisation of that person. 

I believe an interview is not just about questions and answers. There is a lot more to it as you get an opportunity to peek inside the professional and career phase of a person. 

I make it a point to not have any predetermined notions about any person before I go for the session as there is a point of view for every person and it's equally important to let them come up with their side of the story.

I would ask them about their work or professional area of expertise to know their actual scenario. I give a person enough time to try to express themselves and I try asking different questions on their work to see if they reason their answer or have a strong learning experience out of their work. 

Having said that I would hire a person who would be true to me in admitting his or her mistakes or shortfalls than someone who would lie for it. Be it the CEO or the Employee, I believe being truthful to oneself is the utmost important quality in any individual and I admire it in any person irrespective of their qualification or position.

Bio - 

Sriram Manoharan is the founder and MD of CONTUS, a leading digital products company that delivers next-gen tech services. Based on his B2B industry experience, Sriram is now venturing into the B2C sector with an OTT platform called GudSho.

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