Inavate + Mindstec: From strength to strength

Hurrairah bin Sohail speaks with Syed Abdul Wahab, CEO of Mindstec, about how the distributor survived and supported others through the storm of disruption and how it finds itself leading the recovery of the Indian AV market.

Business in the Indian AV sector has been tough for the past year. Disruption caused by Covid-19 and the regulations to safeguard against the pandemic have been trying for many.

Syed Abdul Wahab, CEO of Mindstec, details some of the challenges faced by the Indian AV industry: “The disruption started with the first lockdowns in India last year. Those had a great impact because for at least close to three months we could not do anything. We had orders, but restrictions meant we could not fulfil them. There were shipments coming in and lying in our warehouses not being delivered to dealers. There were shipments that were stuck in transit. And then there were dealers that were unable to take delivery of orders because their projects were delayed. We were blessed that we got support from manufacturers and suitable payment terms could be arranged to help us manage the crisis.”

As a distributor, Mindstec was also cognisant of the fact that it was not alone in facing these challenges. The entire Indian AV industry was impacted by the disruption caused by Covid-19. Abdul Wahab talks about how Mindstec ensured that support was offered to the distributor’s partners: “Our relationships with integrators in India are old. I’ve been part of the Indian AV industry for more that 25 years and know many of the players personally. Also, our regional director Sabarish did a fantastic job of maintaining the relationships and made sure that our organisation survived the difficult phase. Based on these relationships, we were able to support our integration partners with longer payment terms or whatever was needed. I think if you look worldwide, this kind of support was what helped the AV industry get through the pandemic.”

Rolling with the punches, Mindstec continued forward during the disruption by adapting to the times. Abdul Wahab details some of the ways in which the distributor changed its approach: “The lockdowns have created challenges for distributors and Mindstec is no different. The main issue was the restrictions on in-person interactions. However, the show must go on and we have evolved to continue reaching out to the channel and the Indian AV industry. We’ve had digital outreach. We’ve organised webinars and teaching sessions. We’ve even had product demonstrations for our clients from our office online remotely. Digital training sessions, sometimes in collaboration with manufacturers, have been another successful endeavour as a lot of the professionals in the AV industry have taken this time to focus on upskilling.”

Despite the trying business climate and all the challenges, Mindstec was able to weather the storm and is now in a position to lead the recovery of the Indian AV market. Abdul Wahab elaborates how this was achieved: “Our Indian team has been hard at work laying the groundwork in India and I believe this hard work was what allowed us to be fortunate enough to actually grow through the disruption of last year. As India is opening up, we’re seeing more work in the AV sector and orders are beginning to flow.”

Abdul Wahab credits being in position to evolve with consumer demand as one of the main reasons Mindstec made it through. He elaborates: “While there might be a lot of discussion around hybrid work and hybrid education, it all boils down to collaboration and there is now a big demand for collaboration products in India. Thankfully, collaboration products have always been a part of our portfolio. If you look at Mindstec’s history, we have always focused on interactivity and collaboration. With this new spike in demand for collaboration products, because people are working from home and there are new routines, we are perfectly placed to meet the demand.”

Demand for collaboration is not the only thing that is rising, as multiple new applications become sought after to address the disruption. Abdul Wahab continues: “And it’s not just collaboration. We have complete line-ups and portfolios catering to nearly all segments and whatever the AV requirements of clients could be. There has been a surge in control rooms being built in India, for monitoring and information gathering, and we have been part of those projects. Overall, our product line-ups have been built over a period of time and I would say they are very robust.”

According to Abdul Wahab Mindstec’s focus is now on moving forward. He says: “We foresee more growth, there are already orders coming in from the corporate sector for meeting rooms and boardrooms. That is a good indicator that they are already planning for their employees to come back to the office and are planning for a return rather than pursuing complete work from home strategies. Spaces for collaboration will be required more and more as we move forward. We’re also working on government projects, and the Indian government in particular is ramping up its investment in facilities so we expect that to be a growth sector moving forward.”

Through these challenges, Mindstec has remained firm on its core principles which derive from Abdul Wahab’s beliefs and philosophy. He details: “Mindstec is not a box mover like other distributors, we don’t just carry stock in a warehouse and then ship it to whoever wants it. Our philosophy has always been ‘solution selling’, building and working closely with end users and our channel partners to create AV systems that meet the requirements of clients. This stems from my integration background and that fact that solutions are what always interested me. This was the basis on which Mindstec was built up. Anyone can move boxes. But being project driven and solution driven is more interesting. I personally feel happier working this way because we have a direct hand in the outcome and the success of all parties involved with an AV project.”

Mindstec is also keen to test its mettle outside of India on a global scale. Abdul Wahab concludes: “Mindstec has been expanding its footprint globally gradually over the last few years. We’ve spread across to Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe, China, and Asia while keeping our core values and philosophy of solution selling. I’ve always liked a challenge and expanding the business into Europe and the US, which are mature markets, did not make sense to me. But when you look at emerging markets, I feel that there is a lot of room to grow and for us to add value with our perspective and our way of doing business. Setting up in new markets where we are newcomers might not be easy, but like I said taking on these challenges is what we do at Mindstec. We have been fortunate to find like-minded team players especially the regional directors that we have, who have worked hard to make sure our clients are happy and continue to give us business.”

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