Karmic Coach

An interview with Dinesh Kandanchatha

“There are no failures, only learning opportunities,” Dinesh Kandanchatha tells me. Not that he’s had many experiences with the former. Kandanchatha, the Karmic Coach, as he is known, made his first million dollars before he turned 25, was named one of the prestigious “Top 40 under 40” in 2007 for his influential business leadership, and is part of a team that took a startup from less than one million in revenue to IPO raising more than $200 million.

Despite the level of success he’s earned, Kandanchatha believes his great achievement is learning what he is best at and then applying that in the real world.

And this is exactly what he professes as the Karmic Coach, whether it be to the students he mentors of the companies he works for.

And what Kandanchatha is best at is the art of sales, and has coached and supported hundreds of business owners and sales people over the course of his career, transforming plateauing companies into high performance, top-tier businesses.

His story

Kandanchatha originally set out to be a medical doctor, and took pre-med at the University of Ottawa. “I didn’t come to business naturally,” he admits. “I recognized after completing many years that medicine wasn’t for me. But what that time did teach me was that I had a propensity to identify and diagnose issues and come up with meaningful treatment.”

This insight lead Kandanchatha to software development in the mid-1990s, when he did pioneering work with telecommunications giants Mitel and Nortel on VoIP (Voice-over Internet Phone calling). In fact, his work is still used today.

After this, Kandanchatha from there did a couple of startups, which “failed miserably”, he exaggerates. “But I realized…businesses go through interesting punctuation points, there is that getting the first customer point, making the first million…there are a whole bunch of challenges you need to overcome.”

These different stages take different skill sets, and figuring out which stage he best fit “was an education.”

Currently the Vice-President of Sales of Macadamian, a global UI design and software innovation studio working through these punctuation points in businesses led Kandanchatha to sales where he knew immediately “was really where I was meant to be.”

Since then, Kandanchatha has “worked with clients large and small” and “progressed from salesperson up the standard chain through marketing.”

“I am the person who can take a business that is flat—a successful business, maybe, but growing at five or 10 per cent a year and not achieving its potential—taking that business and blasting it to the next level. That’s what I’ve done for three businesses since 2000.”

One of these businesses was running pretty flat at about $400,000 a year before Kandanchatha joined, and within one year, jumped to a $2 million run rate (with $1.2 million in revenue). Kandanchatha joined a team at Protus IP solutions, which was running around $14 million and over six years helped to significantly grow sales in excess of the $70 million mark resulting in an acquisition in December 2010 for $213 million.

Throughout all stages, the unifying trend Kandanchatha identified was the key to success in sales is investing in the customer first. “That means investing time and energy and intellectual power and sometimes money in building a successful design.

“If you build a successful design for your clients, you are going to build yourself a residual business that can last for years beyond the original transaction.”

Kandanchatha focused on this philosophy for selling, making the investment upfront and reaping the rewards of their success for many months and years afterward.

“My secret is not that I am necessarily the brightest guy,” he says, “but what I do have is the ability to create leverage. I look for businesses where I can come in and like jet fuel take the existing machine engine and create momentum.

“The two things that I bring are a laser focus on revenue and the ability to find what is needed to do to grow revenue. The second is ability to deconstruct and reconstruct the business. I believe I bring a unique capacity to deconstruct a business to its elementary parts and reconstruct the business in a way that is scalable for the kind of growth I want to generate which is in the 30 to 50 per cent range. That is very different skill set that most people just don’t have.”

Giving back

As Kandanchatha moves forward, offering his services on a contract basis more and more, his philosophy about investing in ideas and people has evolved into a broader scope than business alone. “Part of the investment idea is you have to pay first in life, one of the business ideas I have figured out for myself. My role as Karmic Coach is one of the ways I give back, a way to pay first.”

Through his business as Karmic Coach, Kandanchatha, a student of the principles of the Vedas and Karma, offers mentorship and coaching to new business owners, helping them with advice and support as they go through their entrepreneurial process. “One of the benefits from having a couple of successes is a very good network: access to people with money and skills and trying to connect people and provide coaching support to both business owners and young people who are looking to enter the field of business.”

Kandanchatha is also on the board of Fresh Founders, for budding entrepreneurs, and a mentor for Junior Achievement.

Seeing as mentorship is very important to him, I asked Kandanchatha who his greatest mentors are. Without hesitation, he cites his grandfather, his mother, and his wife, and it becomes quickly apparent why. His maternal grandfather lived in a village in India and, when his father died when he was 16, became the head of a household of nine children. “His philosophy was…a man who grew up destitute still could be incredibly positive and forward-looking about life made me very thankful for everything I had and help me understand the responsibilities we each have as individuals.”

One of these children was Kandanchatha’s mother, who, alongside her family chores, continued to educate herself in a time and place when women were not educated, eventually reaching the heights of mathematic achievement given by the country. Her acumen in physics and applied mathematics was so renowned, it earned her a full scholarship for a PhD in applied mathematics at Harvard University. The story is truly inspiring.

“What my grandfather taught me about fortitude and attitude my mom taught me about discipline and work ethic,” says Kandanchatha.

“My third mentor is my wife, who taught me that success at all costs is not success; success is multi-faceted. She guides me so I make sure the decisions I make are in line with holistic success, not just career success.”