Friday, 13 Jan 2012
Steps to India
Robbie Swales, Director of Steps tells his story and shares his secrets of breaking into India
We are a London-based provider of drama-based corporate training, with clients in India including American Express, Accenture and HSBC.
Looking back, our journey to understanding and adapting to the India market has been one of success and challenge in equal measure. However, we are passionate about India and are in it for the long-haul, with over 40 Steps trainers now working for us in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.
It was back in early 2010 that we first decided to look to India to further develop our already successful UK and overseas business. The UK market for drama-based corporate training was saturated and highly competitive, so India seemed ideal to focus on with its strong corporate culture, and English as its official language.
Steps facts and figures
Established in 1992 by three actors on the steps of Guys Hospital
Now 18 full-time staff based in London and 120 freelance actor-facilitators around the world
Has over 40 clients around the world from a diversity of leading brands
First visited India in March 2010 and now has 40 trainers in India across Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore
Steps has trained approximately 1000 people from 8 companies in India
Robert has visited India 12 times since setting up business there
We were excited about the potential of bringing our new and unique approach to corporate training to India, a previously untapped market for drama-based management training techniques.
Our first foray to India in March 2010 was as a result of a UKTI scholarship to visit the market and learn about the business culture there. We also delivered some training in Mumbai for Vodafone as part of our global contract at that time. This initial visit, one of many that year, taught me so much about the cultural and hierarchical differences in business.
Pivotal to our success was a local partner with the talent and insight to launch and grow Steps in India. Mohan Madgulkar, an independent trainer in India, approached Steps keen to help us expand there. He was instrumental in our success - his local expertise invaluable in tailoring our products for Indian management style. We developed an excellent relationship, resulting in his appointment as our Senior Associate in India at the end of 2010.
He’s become our trusted man ‘on-the-ground’ helping us hire and train more local actors, grow our client base and facilitate our training across India.
We are very positive about our growing prospects in India in 2012 and beyond, and urge other small businesses to also explore this market – there is no ‘correct’ way to launch a business here but with the right support and advice, you can succeed.
Robbie’s top five tips for doing business in India
1. Indians don’t like to say no – be patient and acknowledge that there will be challenges especially in negotiations, if you do this you won’t get frustrated
2. Integrate your expertise with local talent - find a trustworthy local representative or partner to build your business – we couldn’t have done it without Mohan
3. There is a different type of loyalty there – people will recommend you to others even if they haven’t used your services, which happened to us on a number of occasions.
4. Use an Indian pay-as-you-go SIM card when you’re there – its much cheaper than using your UK mobile
5. Be ready to adapt your financial model to suit the Indian marketplace – don’t assume your existing model will work