The key to a successful business is to identify your niche. And that’s what the brother-sister duo, Kami Narayan and Kapil Viswanathan, did with Premedia Global, which operates in the pre-publishing space. They found that this industry was fragmented and had several small players, but, nobody who provided end-to-end solutions. With offices in both India and the U.S., Premedia Global (PMG), offers everything from content development, design, illustrations, production management – right till the pre-printing stage. With a strong focus on educational, professional and corporate markets, the company whose headquarters is in the U.S has grown from an employee strength of six to 850 currently.
Kami Narayan and her brother Kapil Viswananthan, both of whom currently serve as co-chief executives, founded PMG in 2005. Right from the beginning, the siblings were clear that any business they started would be a dual-shore venture. Once they identified their niche in the textbook publishing space, they were up and running with global publishing clients such as McGraw Hill, Pearson Education and John Wiley, among others.
Ours is an integrated model that offers solutions for digital as well as print publishing. The U.S. and India offices work hand-in-hand
PMG began with acquisitions in the four segments of this industry they wanted to focus on. “Ours is an integrated model that offers solutions for digital as well as print publishing. The U.S. and India offices work hand-in-hand,” says Narayan. Taking the acquisition route was an easy option for them as they wanted to be in multiple segments, offering value to their clients. It also made sense for the companies that got acquired.
The company’s early-stage capital was primarily used to fund these acquisitions. “The acquisitions themselves were a challenge since we had no experience,” reminisces Narayan. But they managed to overcome this through detailed descriptions of their plans. Narayan’s background as head of mergers and acquisitions at Office Tiger did help in the process. Between March 2006 and April 2008 they acquired four companies across different segments in the pre-publishing space. They acquired Beacon Publishing for their technology expertise and Westwords Inc. for their experience in content management. Two other acquisitions in the prepress and school textbook designs space, helped Premedia become a full-fledged content solutions provider.
Founders: Kami Narayan and Kapil Viswanathan
Industry: Knowledge process outsourcing (KPO)
USP: End-to-end content solutions for the publishing market. Serve as a one-stop-shop for all pre-publishing needs of client companies.
Location: United States and Chennai
The other big challenge for Premedia was to expand their Indian operations rapidly. This involved quick recruitments and on the job training. “It was like expanding while running hot,” she says. Being a new entrant was a challenge in itself, being a late entrant added to it and it was only the new value proposition they brought to the table that actually helped them get ahead.
The company received funding of U.S. $20 million in 2008 from JM Financial India Fund, a corporate private equity fund part of the Mumbai-based JM Financial Group, U.S. based Lane Partners, LP and Bangalore-based NEA Indo-US Ventures for further expansion and acquisitions.
To match needs
Today, PMG has 850 employees, with around 750 located in India. Their profile includes those with teaching experience to content developers, designers, illustrators and photographers.
“Training has been very critical since the people here have to understand the curriculum needs of the U.S. education system,” points out Narayan. They recruit raw talent who are then given three levels of training on a regular basis –skills, applications and on the job training.
The employees are also trained across departments within the organisation so that individuals have the option to change tracks and grow in any of the various services they offer. “This ensures that stagnation does not set in,” explains Narayan. The U.S. staff trains their Indian counterparts not only on content requirements, but, even on cultural issues so that the content, design and visuals are relevant to the markets they are catering to.
Consolidation and growth
For PMG, the coming years will involve consolidation of their business and furthering their clientele. “We would like to be the top vendor for large publishers,” says Narayan and one of the strategies will be to increase business with existing clients while exploring other opportunities.
The company also intends to enter new areas of the industry such as the creation of marketing material for corporate clients. “We have already started doing some work in this area. We will be strengthening our position here,” she adds.
In its journey so far, PMG has seen steady growth. Right up to the last fiscal, their year-on-year revenues doubled, indicating an excellent growth rate. The last fiscal saw a decline in their growth as the entire industry was hit by the global recession. This year, the company is working towards getting its top line back on track.