Emerging Entrepreneurs

Providing clients with a complete suite of services

N Ramakrishnan | Updated on July 07, 2020 Published on July 06, 2020

(from left to right) Aditya Surana – Director, Tax Services; Anand Krishnakumar – Co-founder; Padam Mehta – Co-founder; Karthik Annapragada – Co-founder; Anand Daga – Managing Partner, Risk Advisory Services; Kaushik Venkatraman (bottom left), Co-founder, Consark

Consark offers the entire gamut of financial, tax and risk advisory services through guaranteed partner-time

They all come with years of experience in working at one of the Big Four accounting firms. Their paths had crossed at Deloitte, where each one of them cut their teeth in audit or risk or tax advisory.

Anand Krishnakumar, Karthik Annapragada and Kaushik Venkatraman had all worked in Deloitte. Anand is a chartered accountant, an MBA from Indian School of Business and a CFA. He had been in both Deloitte and Ernst and Young. Karthik, also a chartered accountant, had spent more than a decade at Deloitte, while Kaushik, a chartered accountant and CIMA (UK), had been in Deloitte and KPMG.

After their stint in the Big Four firms, Anand and Karthik had ventured out on their own to start ArkCap, which was into financial advisory, while Kaushik and another person had started on their own on the risk advisory side.

All under one roof

According to Anand, they realised that they would be better off combining their expertise and hence came together to start a firm that would offer clients a single pool of resources. They formed Consark, based out of Chennai, in 2013.

“While we wanted to bring together different services – tax advisory, finance advisory, risk – we wanted to be in a place where, as far as clients are concerned, they have access to a single pool of resources. For example, if we are raising capital for somebody, the client may also want some assistance in making sure the books are clean or when due diligence comes up,” says Anand, 36, Co-founder, Consark. They also wanted to build on the boutique nature of services they were offering where clients get lot more partner time and expertise.

But how would they be any different from any of the Big Four or other large firms offering similar services? Says Karthik, 36, Co-founder, their experience at the Big Four firms showed that clients are looking for a single piece of advice that is comprehensive and covers all aspects, be it tax or financial advice or fund raise. Most places, things happened in silos and the clients do not get a comprehensive advice on the issue they have raised. “That is the crux behind saying we want to come together and give one service line,” he adds.

He admits that when they started off, it was a bit difficult as clients did not appreciate what they were trying to do, but over time, a lot of clients came back to them and said this is exactly the kind of advice they were looking for. When they launched Consark, their clients were mostly those with whom they had dealt with before, but this too started changing. Their focus has been on giving maximum partner-time across services to clients and at the same time ensuring that adequate processes are in place to take care of repeat tasks. Consark has seven partners and a team of 70 spread across offices in Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. They have served more than 170 clients across 87 business groups, either on their own or through partners in places where they do not have an office. They have overseas clients too.

Different from others

According to him, the clear differentiation that Consark offers is the partner-time that is available for the clients. Over the last few months, they have seen clients looking to shift repetitive jobs to cost-effective service providers. That, says Karthik, is something they have been able to provide. Consark is at least 50-60 per cent lower than any of the large firms in whatever service that the client wants.

Kaushik, 34, Co-founder, and Karthik say there is greater awareness among even among smaller, promoter-driven companies on what they need to do to raise funds from outside. There is a mindset change happening in tier 2 cities as far as maintaining the books is concerned, adds Kaushik. “Promoters are more aware of what it takes to move from a promoter-driven environment to an investor-corporate kind of environment. Initially, convincing a promoter to understand and appreciate a corporate requirement was a task,” he points out.

There are three challenges, says Karthik, as Consark looks to grow. The first obviously is talent. The second is how the firm will be able to meet its global aspirations or that of its clients.

The third challenge, the one that they reckon is their biggest, is to figure out how much they can invest to scale faster. In a start-up world, he says, you take money and scale, which is not the case in a services company like theirs. They will also need to invest in technology, which right now they get through partnerships. An external investor will look for exits and returns, which may not be possible in a partnership business like theirs.

According to Anand, Consark has conceptualised Baywiser, a platform for financial services. Baywiser, he adds, is a managed marketplace where accounting firms, secretarial firms, investment bankers and other such professionals render their services on a tech platform. This platform is available for everyone, right from early-stage start-ups to enterprise clients. Baywiser is an online B2B market hub that connects businesses with the right financial and commercial advisers.

 

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Published on July 06, 2020
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