“I came to this country a day before 9/11.” That’s how Raj began his story on starting a company in America. Challenges were abundant; the country was heading towards economic turmoil and he was trying to establish himself in the 3D technology industry. Against the odds, Raj cleverly got his first client.
No customer was willing to move forward with any deal, especially with a technology that relied on innovators and early adopters in a time before the likes of YouTube. Heartwood’s product was challenging the status quo. As with any new technology in its nascent stage, it had less to do with convincing people to buy a product and more to do with changing people’s mindset about it. Raj resorted to conducting keyword searches on Craigslist in hopes that he would narrow down potential clients. He finally hit upon a posting for a company that specialized in forensic 3D animation. It sounded like a good fit for Heartwood but it came with a caveat. The website required all candidates to fill out a form to be considered.
The part that caught Raj’s eye was a statement that said direct phone calls were highly discouraged and the caller would, in fact, be disqualified from consideration. That sounded like a threatening enough deterrent for most. For Raj, the rule was made to be broken. His logic was simple, yet refreshing – if everyone was forced to email their bid, no one was making any phone calls. His could possibly be the only one and by breaking this rule, he would be breaking through all the noise his competition was creating.
Raj could not recollect his exact words from the initial conversation but he did recall using humor to break the ice. Humor proved to be a powerful tool. He knew he had about 10 seconds to get his audiences’ attention before he heard the phone click on the other end. It was a calculated risk and it paid off. What resulted was a 45-minute conversation with the man who would soon be his first client. Raj later found out that the client had received 230 email bids, none of which were even looked at after Raj’s call.
Rules exist but they are not always meant for you. In Raj’s case, breaking the rule allowed him to break through the noise and clutter of his competition. Rules should not be seen as a stop sign, rather, as an opportunity to learn more about what others are doing.
Raj provides a leading voice for the future of 3D Interactive Learning and Visual technologies. He believes in sandwiching great technologies together and therefore, leans more towards Innovation than pure Invention. In 2002, Raj co-founded Heartwood with Neil Wadhawan. Today, he splits his time between operating the company and on new technology development, his real passion. Raj loves the water. He swims and plays tennis between project deadlines. Raj encourages everyone at his company to live a complete life, sometimes dragging them away from their desks!