V. Sunder, Managing Director and CEO, Ma Foi Connecting Dots Advisory, wants to build a pioneering consulting firm focused on the Indian manufacturing sector. He says, “When it comes to manufacturing, just strategy consulting won’t do. Implementation of our services will be the key.”
Prior to co-founding Ma Foi Connecting Dots Advisory Private Limited (Ma Foi CDA), V. Sunder, the company’s CEO and Managing Director, spent over 25 years in the Indian manufacturing sector. In one of his earlier stints as President and Group CFO of Dynamatic Technologies, Sunder led the acquisition of five companies and raised over US $100 million in debt and equity to finance these acquisitions. “For over several years now, I have observed K. Pandiarajan and Hemalatha Rajan (founders of Ma Foi Strategy Consultants, the parent company of Ma Foi CDA) and how they went about building a large-scale services company in the HR space. The company served clients through the breadth and depth of India, not only in urban areas and it was a story that inspired me. When we decided to form Ma Foi CDA, the idea was to combine my industry expertise with their experience of building a services company,” he says, about how he teamed up with Pandiarajan.
Sunder’s vision for Ma Foi CDA is three-pronged. At a very basic level, he wants to elevate India’s manufacturing sector and increase its contribution to the GDP. “As a manufacturing consulting firm, we aim to do our bit of boosting up the sector. If you look at countries like China or even Germany, I’d think over 40 per cent of their GDP comes from manufacturing. In India, I’d say it’s about 17 to 18 per cent. If we can somehow play a role, however small, in boosting up this sector, we’d be very happy,” he explains. At another level, Sunder believes that the future of manufacturing will involve managing a large supply chain of vendors. He thinks that large companies will outsource more and more, and will be willing to work with several vendors. At Ma Foi CDA, one of the offerings is a cloud-based software tool that aims to enable better coordination with vendors. In terms of consulting services, the company wants to help both large companies and also small vendors who supply to these large companies with its various consulting services.
In addition to these observations from the manufacturing sector, Sunder’s third focus area revolves around providing better job opportunities in manufacturing. He says, “A recent article in The Economist spoke about how more and more of India’s young population is doing unproductive service sector jobs like being security guards at ATM’s or peons at private companies.” Sunder believes that productivity is a key aspect of human evolution and says the article rightly points out a huge challenge in India – that of providing better, productive jobs to our huge population. At Ma Foi CDA, one of the key goals is to enable the creation of more such productive jobs in the manufacturing sector.
If we have to reach out to the SME segment, the two things that are going to be very important for them are marketing and finance. Most SMEs remain small because its founders are focussed so much on delivery that they do not go out into the market and acquire new clients.
Keeping these vision statements in mind, Sunder is now gearing up to lay the foundation for a world-class manufacturing-consulting firm in the country. Within eight months, the company has already clinched over 22 SME clients, helping them primarily with vendor management and supply chain. Today, the company employs 30 people and operates through four offices, in Chennai, Coimbatore, Bangalore and Delhi.
Over the next few years, the company wants to open over 48 offices across India. “We’ll operate in a hub and spoke model. The idea is to open hub offices around the country and there will be smaller offices in each of the industrial belts that’ll work with the central office in that area. Manufacturing consulting is a hi-touch activity and it is important to have these physical touch points with existing and prospective clients,” adds Sunder.
For now, the company is focused on offering services and solutions to the automotive, aerospace, defence and general engineering sectors. Using a combination of cloud-based technology and shared services (people on the roles of Ma Foi CDA but working for the client), the company has designed four different solutions viz. ProActive OverSight, which helps clients establish a connection between operations-related parameters and its impact on the company’s financials, Comprehensive Vendor Management Technology (CVMT), which is an online tool for collaboration between vendors in tier-3/4 locations with their customers in tier-1/2 cities, who in turn collaborate with OEMs in tier-1 cities, Aero CompetencyEnabler, which will offer domain expert-driven consulting services to the defence and aerospace manufacturing segment and finally, 360 GrowthConnect, that’ll offer marketing, finance and operations, and process consulting to SMEs in the manufacturing sector.
Sunder adds, “For the SME segment, two things that are going to be very important are marketing and finance. Several SMEs remain small because its founders clinch the first three or four clients and spend most of their time in delivering to these clients. One of our endeavours is to help them scale by putting the focus on the basics – marketing, raising money, hiring people and establishing systems and processes for growth.”
While Ma Foi Strategic Consulting Pvt Ltd (led by K. Pandiarajan), will hold a 59 per cent stake in the company, the remaining stake will be held by six industry veterans, including Sunder, N. Balasubramanian, former chairman of SIDBI, Ravindra Singh Singhvi, the former managing director and CEO of EID Parry India Limited, Pradeep Chennamale, former head of financial services at Dynamitic Technologies, HC Kholay, former managing director of HAL Limited and D. Satheesh Kumar, former COO of Tata Group Company.
From a hiring standpoint, Sunder believes that the Ma Foi brand name did help a lot in hiring the early set. Moreover, since the company is working with smaller enterprises, it is focused on recruiting employees with in-depth industry experience. “Degrees do not count in this business. There are a lot of middle-aged and even retired professionals who are very productive and want to move from their current workplace and undertake interesting roles. We are providing them such an opportunity, one where they can work in challenging roles, meet new people, live in different towns and make a difference to the client,” explains Sunder.
The way forward
Ma Foi Strategic Consulting, the parent company, is now gearing up to raise private equity funding to the tune of US $6 million to US $7 million. A portion of these funds will be channelised into Ma Foi CDA to hire more people and to establish more offices.
Sunder says that in the next five years, he’d like to operate a network of over 30 to 35 offices and service every industrial belt in the country. “While we’re still in the early stages of our journey, we believe we’re going after some very interesting ideas. Lets assume we offer consulting services to over 250 to maybe, even 1000 SME manufacturing companies over the next few years, there is a chance that we could integrate these vendors and offer a turnkey solution to an OEM or a large client. We could organise our own trade shows; all focused on helping our clients further grow the business. This might seem like an outlandish goal today, but you never know what is in store. Whatever it is, our end goal is to serve SME manufacturing companies across the country, independent of their size or location,” he says, on a concluding note.
Ma Foi Connecting Dots Advisory Pvt Ltd
Managing director and CEO:
Products and services: Consulting for manufacturing sector especially defence, general engineering, automotive and aerospace
Concept in brief:
V. Sunder, K. Pandiarajan and Hemalatha Rajan have teamed up to launch Ma Foi Connecting Dots Advisory (Ma Foi CDA), to build a world-class consulting services company for the Indian manufacturing sector. Over the next few years, the company wants to operate over 48 offices across the country with a small office present in every industrial belt in the nation. As of today, the company offers a cloud-based vendor management tool that aims to enable deep collaboration between a large number of vendors and a larger manufacturing company. In addition to these online collaboration tools, the company offers consulting services (in the area of operations, marketing, finance and growth) to large manufacturing companies and its vendors. The goal is to catalytically boost up the Indian manufacturing space.