Manjunath M Gowda, Founder, S7 Software

“Better late than never” may describe our featured entrepreneur but the words would not do him full justice. Manjunath Gowda knew he had software skills and thought that they were the only talents he possessed. What he discovered at 34 was that there was also an entrepreneur neatly tucked away amidst all the programming and the coding biding his time to make all the pieces fall into place… 

Manjunath founded S7 Software in 2003, and since then has lived the life of an entrepreneur. Yourstory learnt more about Manjunath and his company from the man himself. He said “I started S7 Software, along with a group of techies, in Dec 2003. Blending our passion with a mission, we are focused in becoming world leaders in software migration and reengineering services. In this direction, we have designed and developed tools and methodology which help us to offer our customers a faster migration leading to greater ROI.”

“Our company embodies rich technical expertise from legacy to emerging technologies with senior staff having worked on solving migration challenges coming from varied verticals. S7 Software’s clients come from a cross section of the industry including companies from Banking, Finance, Telecom, Healthcare, Retail, Manufacturing, Education and ISVs. We have been profitable every quarter since inception, debt free and without VC funding. The company is employee owned and offers long term stake for everyone ensuring continuity.”

The future applications and directions that S7 Software may take are innumerable. Manjunath explains “With ever changing technology, the scope for software migration services is huge. Any company which has been in existence prior to Internet era run applications which are now considered "legacy", these applications use our services to move onto the latest technology and thus derive benefits offered. Many experts predict, the future growth to be led by Mobile, Cloud computing and Green IT, these are some of the areas in which S7 Software is pioneering its migration capabilities.”

To say that they are just any other software company is a statement that would be very off the mark. Mastering legacy software and reconfiguring it to fit the needs of a modern corporate is no easy task. They took the guesswork out of what sets them apart in the world of software development and stated “We differentiate ourselves as a "Focused Software Migration Company"; we back this differentiation through our tools, people and practices.”

“Tools - we have created IP in form of tools that help us in offering faster migration and precise estimations. People - trained in couple of technologies to understand both source and target technologies (very unique for the industry which insists in specialization).

Practices - best practices derived from projects delivered to a varied customer base (this has helped us turn the existing convention on its head, for e.g. estimating a migration project was done on number of lines of code, unlike our method which takes into consideration dependencies an application has).”

“We plan to scale-up our business by offering services in "Sunrise" Migration categories and marketing our in-house developed tools. Sunrise Migration categories are Mobile, Green IT and Cloud Computing; experts believe the next phase of IT growth will be driven by either or all of them. We have developed tools to migrate applications from C# to Java; this would fill a long existing gap in the migration market. In terms of geography, we plan to expand our reach to Europe and have invested in Partnerships.”

Manjunath is not one to shy away from the truth. He was candid to a fault about his motivations and said “I am one of those who measure success with money (hard earned money) and hence jumping into entrepreneurship was sort of natural. Even though it took longer for me for such a move (I was 34 when I became an entrepreneur) I felt very comfortable in it. It is almost 6 years into it and enjoying every moment of it.”

“Moreover I have been a hard worker even since I can remember working more than 12-14 hours a day, so 9-to-5 was never a job for me J”

Making the evolutionary jump from tech whiz to entrepreneur was taxing on Manjunath. “Trying to understand the intricate Sales and Marketing world when I started S7 Software was one of the toughest challenges I ever faced especially coming from a technology background with absolutely ZERO exposure or experience in the same.”

“How I did overcome it is another classic of what I call jumping into the water with no swimming experience and you will figure out how to as your life depends on it. Met lot of people who were past great sales people, entrepreneurs, read lot of books and articles on sales and marketing, attended lot of seminars, and experimented on field a lot of theories that I learnt reading books.

Last year we closed $2 million in sales with a profit before tax of 37% tells a lot about how we mastered what then appeared as black magic. Today I consider Sales and marketing as a science more than an art and I have lot of respect for the same and I have a lot more to achieve in this field.”

Manjunath deems fit to view a mistake as a lesson in what not to do. He says “I am a strong believer in the saying that an entrepreneur never makes mistakes, he only experiments because I have learnt so much in wrong moves than right moves and when that is the case you wonder whether right moves are desirable or the wrong ones. I strongly feel that a wrong direction taken and pursued harder and consistently is million times better than making the right decision and worrying all the time whether it was the right decision and in the wrong decision proves the right direction!!!”

Providence has seen fit to gift Manjunath many things, money being among the least of them. “All the seed capital was our savings and was a total of Ten lakhs. Later in the story, we had an Angel investor by the name of Rao Remala investing $100,000. Rao was the first Indian to work at Microsoft reporting directly to Bill Gates and later he retired at Microsoft after working for almost 30 years over there and he brought lot of credibility to the company.”

Since their inception S7 Software has taken great strides- Manjunath sums it up saying “There are many, reaching the first million dollar revenue was very sweet, achieving/having a cash reserve (especially in the recession times) of almost a year worth of expenses, was sweeter (No wonder I measure my success in money J).”

“We have been doubling our revenues for the past three years; we ended 2008-09 at close to US$2 million, growing from $500 thousand in 2006-07. We have 70 employees with two offices, one at Bangalore, India and another at Washington, USA.”

“We have been recognized by NASSCOM as one of the 50 fast emerging company thro' their NASSCOM Emerge50, Great Place to Work Institute has placed S7 Software in 1st Quartile position in their study "India's Best Companies to Work For" study - 2009. Itanium Solutions Alliance awarded their 2008 Innovation Award to S7 Software, this carried a $50,000 cash prize, we are a NASSCOM Mentored company and our expertise was recognized by Forrester Research in their study "Keys to VB Migration".

Manjunath has a clear cut idea of his own achievements and a quirky view of what makes the cut for him. He says “Been a meritorious student all my life, was first rank all my schooling years, within 100 ranks for the state for 10th and 12th and stood 5th for the state for in Common Entrance tests to securing 3rd rank for the Bangalore University in Engineering to getting 4.0/4.0 GPA in my MS at Oregon State University – all were very satisfying but the most satisfying was when I hit a SIX in the last over to secure victory for our team while playing cricket at S7 Software (by the way we play Cricket every Tuesday @ work and our motto is come rain or shine or deadline, we don’t miss our cricket J)”

Manjunath believes that S7 Software can weather the economic storm that is circling the globe. He stated his plans for 2010 saying “You generally have a vision for the next three years or five years and 2010 is one year down the line. Considering the recession and all around us, for us first and foremost is survival for 2010 and of course once you survive, grow aggressively and at least by 70%.”

As an entrepreneur who has learnt the ropes on the job, Manjunath unveils the hard truths he has learnt and says “My Mantra is simple, if you don’t measure success in terms of money; entrepreneurship probably is not your ball game. Once you qualify and jump into it, my advice is to make sure it is your one way street. You jump into it assuming there is no way out and no looking back. As soon as you get an option or an alternate you always tend to take it. So think there are no alternatives and think there are no way out and generally you will come out of it as a great success.”

Yourstory thanks the talented Mr. Manjunath for his time, and wishes S7 Software success and growth to their full potential.