Kailash Katkar, CEO, Chairman and Managing Director and Sanjay Katkar, Chief Technical Officer and Technical Director, Quick Heal Technologies

“Apke computer mein kaun rehta hai, virus ya Quick Heal?” (What’s in your computer – virus or Quick Heal?). If you listen to the radio, you would have heard this commercial. It is a promotional line for Pune-based Quick Heal Technologies (Quick Heal), a leading provider of Internet security tools and a prominent player in the antivirus products space in India, whose strategy is to successfully use radio as a strong promotional medium. Founded by brothers Kailash Katkar and Sanjay Katkar in 1994, Quick Heal has evolved from a small one room, bootstrapped electrical device repair station to a security solutions company spread over 60 countries worldwide. “Quick Heal is number one in India in terms of revenue market share, currently capturing over 33 per cent of the market (which is approximately Rs. 500 crore to Rs. 600 crore for the consumer, small office, home office segment),” shares Kailash Katkar, CEO, chairman and managing director.

In August 2010, private equity major Sequoia Capital invested Rs. 60 crore in Quick Heal to fund the company expansion plans.

Before setting up his own business in 1991, Kailash Katkar served as a maintenance engineer at Data Star Electronics. His business acumen and strong sense of market trends prompted him to take over this virtually dying company and transform it into a computer maintenance and hardware peripherals company – CAT Computer Services. Kailash realised that the computers that came for maintenance (which used to run on DOS operating system then) used to be infected with viruses. Sanjay Katkar, chief technical officer and technical director, explored his reverse coding and research skills on these infected machines and created programs to resolve the virus issues. The Katkar brothers foresaw a strong potential in this area and hence, Quick Heal was incorporated in the year 1994. “We focused solely on the in-house brand ‘Quick Heal’, creating marketing strategies and reworking on operational strengths to build a dedicated research and development (R&D) centre and a strong ground-support team that now spans over 30 cities in India,” shares Sanjay.

The journey

Developing a product is one thing and selling it successfully is altogether another aspect. “Kailash and I were very passionate about the product that we had built. We thought that a good product would sell automatically. But we were wrong,” says Sanjay. Initially, the company faced stiff competition and piracy issues. When they decided to devote their resources into creating Quick Heal, there were about 10 players (mostly international brands) vying for market share. Rampant software piracy and competition from products available at zero duty posed another problem. There was also a lack of venture capitalists. “We were diverting all our funds from our hardware maintenance business to establish Quick Heal,” shares Kailash. He adds, “With that came the problem of getting skilled man power as the MNCs lured good talent away with huge pay packages, something that was beyond what a startup (without any external funding) could afford.”

Snap Shot

Quick Heal Technologies
Founders: Kailash Katkar and Sanjay Katkar
Year: 1994
City: Pune
Turnover: Aims to cross Rs. 200 crore in revenues this fiscal and plans to touch Rs. 1,000 crore in the next three years

The company’s strategy for the first five years was to sell the product through distributors – a model that failed to create the required foothold in the market. It then revised the approach to include computer vendors for selling the products. This involved another set of challenges like training the vendors, establishing confidence about the product in them and making it easy for them to sell. “But the hard work paid off and we were successful in passing on our passion for the product to these vendors and gradually established a network of thousands of resellers in Pune itself,” says Kailash. He continues, “In fact, we were the first ever software vendor that approached hardware resellers to sell software products across the country – a trend that our competitors followed later on.”

Today, Quick Heal’s partner network is spread over 60 countries across the world. It is also exploring possible partnerships with Internet service providers (ISPs), managed service providers (MSPs) and systems integrator (SIs) by concentrating on small and medium businesses (SMBs) and corporate segments. Quick Heal has a dedicated channel partner or distributor in every country taking care of regional and localised sales, marketing and market development activities.

The company also provides remote email, chat and telephonic support. “Our partner enablement programs are also different from what the industry is used to. We believe in our resources and partners, and their success is primary to us and hence, various training programs and road shows are conducted regularly at all branches,” shares Kailash. As far as logistics is concerned, all desktop and enterprise products are available ex-stock in almost all locations.

Building the USP

The company’s products are compatible with almost all major platforms including DOS, Windows, Linux, Novell, Symbian and BlackBerry. And the security solutions cater to consumers, small businesses, large organisations and government establishments.

Quick Heal’s strength has been its strong research and development, and it has a dedicated team for the same. “We started with the sole aim of building an anti-virus product that matched international standards,” says Kailash. Since its first mention at Virus Bulletin Comparatives (a well-known magazine about anti-virus information) in 2002, Quick Heal has consistently won VB 100 per cent award for maintaining its good detection rates on several platforms, including various Windows desktops and servers, and Linux servers.

Marketing and promotion of the Quick Heal product is done through its integrated marketing program that includes both traditional and new media promotional activities. Advertising on local FM channels has given the products a very strong reach into each region. Kailash says, “In India, it is important to crack the language barrier if you want to reach out to every stratum of consumers and our use of a traditional medium like radio is focused on this premise.” For its activities in south India, the company has dedicated radio jingles that pick up the cultural nuances and are created in southern languages.

Considering that the anti-virus segment is extremely sales-driven, along with the introduction of products for SMBs and enterprise segment, the company started building a sales team entirely for the enterprise segment. It is also roping in SIs and value added resellers (VARs) for the enterprise business. Some of the products it has launched in the recent past are protection for Windows mail server, Microsoft exchange and various mail servers on Linux. “We have fortified our sales and support network for both our desktop and enterprise products,” shares Kailash.

The company also focuses on building its business through channel partners. The company currently works with over 10,000 channel partners. Easy product availability and strong product performance are the key factors that help its channel partners push Quick Heal products into existing and new markets. There is also an online sales portal on its website that facilitates online sales and it has an ERP system developed in-house to track sales data continuously.

Strengthening its fundamentals

In August 2010, private equity major Sequoia Capital invested Rs. 60 crore in Quick Heal. The company is using the funds to expand its product portfolio and strengthen Quick Heal’s position in both the enterprise and consumer segments. It has also used these funds to spread the company’s footprint out of India. In fact, for this fiscal, Quick Heal aims to cross the Rs. 200 crore revenue mark and is laying down plans to touch Rs. 1,000 crore within the next three years. To achieve this, the company plans to increase its user base by 50 per cent yearly and simultaneously increase its international footprint. Going forward, it is planning to strengthen its fundamental principles – innovation and simplicity. It also intends to expand and develop its product portfolio across devices (PC to mobile) and on multiple platforms.

What next?

  • Plan to increase its user base by 50 per cent yearly and simultaneously increase its international footprint. 
  • Expand and develop the product portfolio across devices (PC to mobile) and on multiple platforms
  • Focus on innovation and simplicity in product development

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