NASSCOM EMERGEOUT Startup 16: Yadavendra Balehosur (Yadu) and Naresh Sadasivan, Robust Designs

15th Apr 2010
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Around the turn of the century, Yadavendra Balehosur (Yadu) and Naresh Sadasivan came across industry leaders who opined that in spite of making heavy investments in information technology, they were unable to gain insights into their businesses. One of the CIOs he met wished it did not take years to roll out business intelligence solutions to his several hundred managers across the world.

With experience of more than 20 years in the IT industry, both these industry veterans saw an opportunity and dreamt big. At the core of this dream was the desire to build a product which could compete with the big names in the industry, yet deliver BI solutions in a simple and inexpensive way and dramatically speed up adoption. Out of this desire was born Robust Designs in 2002, a company dedicated to a mission to transform business data into meaningful and actionable information and insights.


In this conversation with Indian Startup EMERGOUT initiative by NASSCOM, Yadu and Naresh share their perspective on entrepreneurship.1. Why did they take entrepreneurship journey?

Yadu: Freedom–made possible by coming into money in the year 2000.

Naresh: The freedom to innovate and create something was always there. But working inside a large corporation severely restricted me from pursuing this dream. I had to opt out of the comfort of a good job and it took quite a bit of time to make that call. The lure of striking it rich was, surprisingly, never the motive.

2. What keeps them going?

Yadu: Client success. Money from clients. Cool product. Competition. Failures.

Naresh: I think we spotted the BI trend very early. The fact that some very large corporations adopted our technology and solutions is a thrill that knows no parallel. Over the years, our product has undergone several improvements. That each improvement is a result of deep customer interaction, which in turn increases usage and adoption is extremely fulfilling. That our competitors are some of the largest companies in the world (like IBM, Oracle, SAP) motivates us to push ahead.

3. What is their advice to wannabe entrepreneurs?

Yadu: Have an idea, get money for a year, jump out with a couple of customers signed up to the idea.


  • Hire good people. To build and retain a core team of employees who have the skill sets to deliver results is critical. In our case, we were blessed with small band of extremely good people who have been with us for a very long time. Our product development and consulting folks are veterans who know their jobs very very well.
  • Understand the numbers. While it is fantastic to give birth to an idea and find early adopters, it is important to create a financially viable model for the business. Even today, I am learning that it is quite difficult to put this simple concept into practice; to be able to separate the emotions from cold logic is not easy.
  • Have a few trusted advisers. As a CEO, you are expected to know everything. But we actually don’t have answers to a whole host of questions that arise from time to time. We turn to our trusted and competent advisers for advice—from sales to finance to operations to strategy. So create a small advisory board to help you with your thinking and execution is useful.
  • Execute well. Having a simple plan and executing to it provides a platform for success.

4. What success means to them?

Yadu: Ego. Money. Freedom.

Naresh: Customer acknowledgement and acceptance, Employee satisfaction, and Financial success are my measures of success.

5. What failures have taught them?

Yadu: Failures are necessary as long as you totally don’t go down. They motivate you to improve. Not just failures as a business, it could be product, client or any other rejection.

Naresh: We are still learning this aspect, but here are a few at the top of my recall.

1. Speedy course correction. If you feel something is not right, be quick to rectify.

2. Fund it adequately. To starve a business of capital can be lethal.

Two founders with complementary skills can be a good combination to start a business. Yadu and Naresh found opportunities in business intelligence early and were able to build on the opportunity into a successful business. Customer focus and customer acknowledgement is key to their success.

As part of the Indian Startup EMERGEOUT initiative by NASSCOM, 15 entrepreneurs have shared their views. To know what they are, please visit the links given below.

1. Kishore Mandyam of PK4 Software

2. Anil Pagar of Spadeworx

3. Ajay Sharma of Shristi Software

4. Pallav Nadhani of InfoSoft Global (FusionCharts)

5. Manoj Srivatsava of Hanu Software

6. Sriram Raghavan of Comat

7. Sushil Chaudary of Mann-India

8. Manav Garg of Eka

9. R. Swaminathan of Matrix Business Solution

10. Suresh Sambandam of OrangeScape

11. Ajay Mian of Alletech

12. Prasad Guntupalli of Attra

13. Varun Khurana of Wirkle

14. Anil Kaul of AbsolutData

15. Amit Sadana of PharmARC

NASSCOM EMERGEOUT Conclave, Chennai, April 30, 2010

NASSCOM EMERGEOUT conclave comes to Chennai on 30 April 2010. With “Nurturing the IT DNA in India’s growth sectors” as its theme, the conclave focuses on sectors that hold relevance to Chennai such as the automotive sector, in addition to opportunities that exist in the UID space, and workshops on marketing, product design, and many others.

We will soon feature a conversation with Chair of the EMERGEOUT Forum, Mr. Krishnakumar Natarajan. Watch out this space!

Mr. Bharat Goenka, founder, Tally Software is the keynote speaker. It is a no-brainer right now that if you walk to anyone and ask them to cite you an example of an Indian product, Tally ranks among the top list, and it has been that way for a while. Mr. Goenka is without doubt one of the most prolific icons of the Indian product software industry. Talk to him about product positioning, understanding user behaviour, pricing, marketing and building a brand that is as big as Microsoft in terms of training and development centers, and you are sure to walk away in awe. Would you miss hearing him?

To wrap up the conclave, Mr. Lakshmi Narayanan, Vice Chairman, Cognizant, is going to engage in rather inquisitive conversation with Prasanto Roy from CyberMedia. He has been a technology industry leader for over 30 years. As a founding member of Cognizant, he was been responsible for the company’s high-touch customer relationship and delivery excellence model. Under his leadership, Cognizant became the youngest IT services company to reach the $1 billion revenue milestone. He is also the part of NASSCOM Chairmen Council and under his leadership, some new initiatives in the EMERGE Forum were started.

To find the speaker list, please visit

Jessie Paul, MD, Paul Writer Strategic Services, author of No Money Marketing, and formerly Chief Marketing Officer of Wipro, is holding a workshop on “Frugal Marketing—What Works, What's Trendy, What's Hype.” Besides great product or service and innovation, marketing right is crucial to build a brand. Jessie is going to demystify the art of brand building using a frugal budget. Visit her blog post at the EMERGE blog for details.

The complete program agenda is available and is waiting to be updated: Many speakers and impressive lineup of programs await participants. Don’t miss all the action! Join the bandwagon of the emerging opportunities in India!!

Please register for the conference here.

Contributed by Venkatesh Krishnamoorthy, Chief Evangelist, YourStory

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