‘Let Your Fingers Do the Walking’
is the message of Vinod Gupta’s
American Business Information (ABI
Who would have thought one
could find millions of dollars
tucked away in the humble
Vinod Gupta did.
In 1971 he was a 25-year-old marketing research analyst working
with Commodore Corporation, a manufacturer of mobile homes in
Omaha and one of his tasks was to compile a list of all the mobile
home dealers in the United States. Since most of the available lists were
incomplete, he ordered telephone directories and decided to create the
lists himself. When all 4,800 Yellow Pages arrived at the office and
filled up the entire reception area, his boss wanted the eyesore out of the
place by 4 p.m.
Gupta hired a moving van to transport them to his garage and offered to do the research on his own time; he also offered to sell the list exclusively to Commodore for $9,000 or give it to them free if they permitted him to sell it to their competitors. The company elected the second option.
With the help of another employee, he sorted the massive books by state and painstakingly compiled the information. He then borrowed $100 from the bank and invested the money in sending mailers out to mobile home owners. Inside three weeks, he had received cheques for $22,000 and orders for another $13,000. He then hired two part-time employees and launched American Business Information in 1972, creating various lists from the information lying dormant in the Yellow Pages. So successful were these lists as a marketing tool that Gupta was able to quit his job and embark full-time on compiling a data base of every industry from A to Z.
Within thirteen years ABI had all the Yellow Pages covering the entire United States in its data base — valuable business information which could be utilized in a variety of ways. Today ABI has a market value of $500 million and 1997 revenues exceeded $190 million. The raw data is converted into accurate business-to-business marketing information and further information is added from company annual reports, 10Ks, SEC information, government publications, newsletters, newspapers and trade journals.
The phone company says ‘Let Your Fingers Do the Walking’ and that’s exactly what Gupta, except he made it into a mighty marathon. His database of information covers ten million U.S. and one million Canadian businesses. ABI has also developed a database of 113 million households in the United States.
According to ABI, over 1.6 million customers have used its many for
market identification and analysis, including customer profile analysis,
sales lead generation, direct mail and telemarketing. The latest
innovation is information on CD-ROMS, and lists can be obtained of
businesses classified from geographic location to employee size.
Standing behind the information is just as important and ABI’s staff
makes millions of calls to businesses every year to double check the
data. It all boils down to ideas.
ABI’S Vinod Gupta borrowed
$100 from a bank to found a
company that now has
a market value of $500 million.
Gupta’s original $100 has multiplied many times over into a business, which rakes in nearly $200 million in sales annually and provides employment to 1,000 workers. ABI went public in 1992 but Gupta’s family still owns 50 percent of the company. Not bad for a boy from the tiny village of Rampur Manhyaran, north of Delhi, a village which had no toilets, no electricity, no phones and certainly no phone books.
The Vinod Gupta School of Management VGSoM at IIT Kharagpur was established in 1993, and was the first management school to be setup within the IIT system. It was initiated by a distinguished alumnus and a Life Time Fellow of the Institute, Mr. Vinod Gupta. The founders of the School felt that the competencies and resources acquired by the Institute in imparting education in the sciences and various fields of engineering could be harnessed to impart high quality management education. The founders felt that IIT Kharagpur could play a pioneering role in creating management schools within the IIT system offering unique program blending management and technology , These programs that would develop managers who would be able to understand and appreciate both the critical technology related issues and their management implications. This original concept has now been
vindicated by the setting up of management program in most IITs .
World renowned for its technological prowess, IIT Kharagpur has
leveraged its strength in terms of infrastructure, intellectual resources
and illustrious alumni to develop a Business Management school of the
The mission of VGSoM is to develop outstanding management professionals capable of playing leadership roles in their chosen careers
in organizations in different sectors of the economy, especially in
technology-driven and knowledge based industries that are
characterized by high degrees of globalization, dynamism, complexity
and innovativeness. The main focus of the Centre is on advanced post
graduate and doctoral programme in Business Management,
Management Development and other areas.
Highly qualified faculty having considerable academic and
industrial/consultancy experience and strong associated faculty of
sister departments. The combined faculty of the school and sister
departments give the school a high faculty to student ratio of about
1:3:5. Built on the foundation of a world-class education system created
and nurtured over a period of five decades, close and collegial relations
between students and faculty create an atmosphere conducive to
learning. Opportunity exists for students to take electives from sister
departments Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science and
Engineering, Industrial engineering and Management, and Humanities
and Social Sciences. Being part of a large and vibrant academic
community the management students have the opportunity to
participate in a wide range of extra-curricular activities and develop
their managerial and leadership capabilities.
MBA at VGSoM is not just about long and rigorous work hours. There’s
a lot more to student life here in IIT Kharagpur. With a sprawling
campus and beautiful surroundings, the climate is always ripe for
students have a great combination of work and fun. All round the year
there are different kinds of events which keep the students involved and provide the recreational value.
The illumination competition held on Diwali every year in the Kharagpur campus involves almost each and every student of the hall. The 80 residents of Ashutosh Mukherjee Hall of Residence put up a brilliant show that is still vivid in the hearts of the observers.
With one of the best IT and Networking Infrastructures of the country,
gaming forms a major part of all IITians extra-curriculars.
Championships in computer gaming (Counter-Strike & Quake) are
held very often to test their skills and compete with students from
various other colleges.
Vinod Gupta invests US$ 1 million in law school
After setting up the first management school within an IIT in 1993,
founder and chairman of info USA, Inc, Vinod Gupta has now invested
$1m to set up the Rajiv Gandhi School of Intellectual Law at IIT
Kharagpur through the Vinod Gupta Charitable Foundation.
As India becomes an important player in various sectors of the new
economy, intellectual property protection is increasingly important.
From products to processes, Indian industry will have to be more and
more patent and trademark savvy, going forward. The school of
intellectual law will work towards educating lawyers in this specialized
area. The fact that it is located within the IIT system will make it
relevant for corporates and corporate lawyers who wish to specialize in
the patents area,” Gupta, who is a 1967 batch alumni of IIT-KgP, remarked.
“The institute will transform classroom knowledge into action by creating relevant corporate situations. It will provide world class legal education leading to a post graduate degree in law and later doctorate programmes.
IITs are recognized as world class institutions and I’m confident that IIT
Kharagpur will beckon talented individuals to create a winning
opportunity out of this challenging new discipline,” Gupta said.
Recently, the IIT-Delhi Alumni Association also awarded three of its
distinguished ex-students Dr Krishan K Sabnani, sr vice-president,
networking research, Lucent Technologies, USA, Dr Raghuram G
Rajan, economic counselor & director of research IMF and K.
Venkataramanan, member of board and president operations L&T.
Sabnani, who was the founder of the networking research department at
Bell Labs in 1993 played a vital role in defining Lucent’s 3G wireless
data strategy and creating global roaming solutions. Dr Rajan, has
served as consultant to a large number of organizations including the
World Bank, Federal Reserve Board and Swedish Parliament.
Rajat Gupta, an IIT-D alumni and worldwide partner McKinsey, who
spoke at the awards ceremony, said that there was need for greater
inter-disciplinary studies at the IITs.