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Repair shop to Quick Heal IPO, a long journey for Katkar brothers

Founder Kailash and Sanjay Katkar complete their over 20-year-old journey from hardware repair shop to Dalal Street

Samie Modak  |  Mumbai 

Kailash Katkar, MD & CEO, Quick Heal (right) and Sanjay Katkar, CTO. Class 10 educated Kailash founded the company with his younger brother Sanjay from the former's hardware repair shop in Pune. Photo: Suryakant Niwate
Kailash Katkar, MD & CEO, Quick Heal (right) and Sanjay Katkar, CTO. Class 10-educated Kailash founded the company with younger brother Sanjay from the former’s hardware repair shop in Pune. Photo: Suryakant Niwate

From calculator repairmen to founders of Quick Heal Technologies, the country’s most popular anti-virus brand, siblings Kailash and Sanjay Katkar would have come a long way when their Rs 450-crore public issue launches next week.

Quick Heal makes its stock market debut next week, which will value the IT security solutions company at around Rs 2,000 crore and the Katkar brothers at around Rs 1,500 crore.

The company, which today boasts a 30 per cent share in the domestic retail market, began with a humble hardware repair shop in Pune two decades ago.

Before venturing into anti-virus software services, chairman and co-founder Kailash was a neighbourhood radio and calculator repairer. With the support of his younger sibling Sanjay, who had just obtained a master’s degree in computer science, the two brothers went on to establish Quick Heal.

“When we started we never thought of making it so big. We just wanted to develop a good product,” says 41-year-old Sanjay, who spent a lot of time at his elder brother’s hardware repair shop while pursuing his master’s degree.

“I noticed that a lot of machines, which had come for repairs, were infected with viruses. As I was studying debugging, I started fixing these machines. As I discovered new viruses, I developed new solutions,” says Sanjay, who is chief technology officer of Quick Heal.

As the virus solutions soon started gaining popularity in Pune, the Katkar brothers decided to shift focus away from hardware repairs.

“By 1998, we stopped hardware repairing and moved focus to anti-virus. In 2002, we expanded out of Pune and in 2011-12, ventured into enterprise solutions,” says 45-year-old Kailash, managing director and chairman, Quick Heal. Last year, the company generated over Rs 250 crore in revenues. Quick Heal, which competes with US-based anti-virus majors like Symantec Corporation and McAfee, has managed to stay relevant by catering to the Indian marketplace. “Globally, Windows XP operating system has become mostly redundant. But in India, it still has a 40 per cent market share. There are hardly any products to cater to them. We still continue to provide support to that,” says Sanjay, who adds that Quick Heal gained popularity by understanding the needs of Indian consumers better.

Vinay Menon, head of equity capital markets of JP Morgan India, one of the three investment banks handling the Quick Heal IPO, says the founders’ passion stands out.

“Despite coming out of Pune, Quick Heal has managed to create a good brand name to take on global majors. The company has good on-the-ground presence and distribution network. Quick Heal is a classic example of the ability of young India to stand up against global majors,” says Menon.

In a marketplace, which is fast changing as consumers shift from personal computers to smartphones, the Quick Heal founders, who are offloading Rs 200 crore worth of shares in the IPO, say there are plenty of opportunities as consumers need to be protected from vulnerabilities.

First Published: Tue, February 02 2016. 22:48 IST