19 Dec 2016, 16:21 — 8 min read
The Gujarat earthquake of 2001 left behind a trail of devastation. That time, when reconstruction and rebuilding was the need of the hour, proved to be the turning point in structural engineer, Vatsal Shukla’s career. His expertise in structural engineering, honed after a decade of working with the government of Gujarat, was in high demand. Thousands of buildings had been destroyed and people were demanding safer structures. Vatsal had toyed with the idea of being a full-time entrepreneur before but his practice, Anviksha Consultants, found full expression at this time of great upheaval.
Vatsal has established a practice that provides consultancy services in all aspects of structural design and works closely with architects on the buildings they work on.
In conversation with GlobalLinker (GL) Vatsal Shukla (VS) shares his journey, the obstacles he has encountered along the way and his vision for the enterprise.
GL: Tell us about your business and how it came into being.
VS: We are consulting structural engineers. We design the internal skeleton of built forms which make the buildings, or any man made structure, stable. For buildings, we are like the ‘designers of skeletons for the human body’. Our work profile includes reinforced concrete and steel structure designs.
I had worked as an engineer in the design department of the Government of Gujarat (1991-2001) and it is an institution I consider my second alma mater after my college. Yet, I always cherished a dream of having my own business. I spent all those years at the job honing my structural engineering skills and preparing for the next innings.
After resigning from the government job in 2001, after 10 years of service, I established Anviksha Consultants which was fully operational in the field of structural engineering. ‘Anviksha’ is the name of my daughter who was born in 1993. The idea for the company was conceived with her birth.
GL: What are the challenges you have faced in establishing your business?
VS: Anviksha Consultants started working as a private consulting firm after the devastating earthquake of 26 January, 2001 in Gujarat. The post earthquake period was very challenging for the people of Gujarat and specifically for construction professionals. The stability of buildings and other structures are ensured by structural designing and making the structures earthquake resistant involves a lot of technical skill and expertise. It was very challenging to establish ourselves while following genuine structural engineering practices and contradicting the practices of conservative structural engineers.
As structural engineers we work in close coordination with architects so one can say that with our discipline architecture is manifested and also enriched. The nature of our profession involves lot of discussion and working out many alternatives to convince architects about structural aspects and establishing common ground with them.
Recovering the consultancy charges for the work done was a big task and I failed so miserably on this front during the initial years that Anviksha Consultants failed to get a solvency certificate from our bank because of losses on the balance sheet. This was an eye opener for us and this is when my wife, Dipali Vatsal, took charge of the company administration and we managed to overcome the crisis. I have the utmost gratitude for that.
Establishing Anvishka Consultants took a lot of effort. With the support of like-minded, resolved architects, we have reached a level of growth and excellence.
GL: What is the USP of your business?
VS: Our USP is ‘exploring structural engineering as a key to enrich architecture’. That includes:
• Having technical expertise
• Using the latest techniques
• Leveraging effective communications
• On time release of the details for execution of a construction project
• Ensuring the safety of human beings by ensuring safety of structures or built forms
GL: What are some of the milestones of your business?
VS: When each structure designed by us is constructed and put to use it is a milestone achieved. We have designed 500+ structures of various types including palatial bungalows, high rise structures, industrial buildings etc. We have designed a few structures for military engineering services, which were very important for the defense services. To have contributed to our army in a small but meaningful way is something we are proud of. We are registered as professional engineers by the Engineering Council of India and as Grade I structural engineers by various local authorities.
Since structural engineering is a very technical and an internal process in construction, normally people remain unaware about our work. However after 25 years of tireless effort, when somebody refers to us as proficient structural engineers – it is a source of immense satisfaction for us.
GL: What role do you feel GlobalLinker plays in connecting and assisting SMEs?
VS: Usually people are unaware of the roles and requirement of structural engineers. GlobalLinker plays an important role in sharing knowledge by initiating discussions. It provides a very good platform to get in touch with people who are relevant to our business. It also keeps us informed about various other professions and businesses. This can be very helpful to business owners who are a part of GlobalLinker and can help in connecting with others. For SMEs and startups GlobalLinker is a very good platform which can help build the business with minimal investment in marketing, and that too globally!
GL: What is your big business dream?
VS: Being in the construction industry I foresee Anviksha Consultants fully operational in various domains of construction industry through the following studios under its banner:
1. Structural Design Studio
2. Project Management Studio
3. Repairs & Rehabilitation Studio
We intend to grow by expanding our reach to various parts of the country and getting associated with architects, civil engineers, builders and other experts of the industry. Being in a highly technical profession, we can grow big by investing in capacity building for our staff, giving them exposure to every aspect of the profession and preparing them to go to the next level with confidence. We are committed to delivering our services in a professional and genuine way, such that trust is established with new clients that will enable us to grow to the next level. This is the most important factor in our growth till date. We look forward to establishing our presence in various locations in the country.
GL: What is your message to aspiring entrepreneurs?
VS: I find the following quotes very meaningful & hope that aspiring entrepreneurs can draw inspiration from them, just as I have.
To venture causes anxiety, but not to venture is to lose one’s self… and to venture in the highest is precisely to be conscious of one’s self. -- Soren Kierkegaard
You realise your destiny when you serve the force that created you and have the courage to let the brilliance within you see the light of the day. -- Robin Sharma
You can have anything you want if you want it desperately enough. You must want it with an exuberance that erupts through the skin and joins the energy that created the world. -- Sheila Graham
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Posted byGlobalLinker Staff
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