NASSCOM EMERGEOUT Startup 20: Sanjay Shah, CEO, Skelta

Team YS
19th Apr 2010
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Sanjay Shah, CEO, provides the vision, strategic direction and execution for Skelta. He brings to the company over 20 years of management and product development experience under multiple platforms and computing environments. Sanjay has played pivotal roles in steering startups from early growth to expansion. Prior to Skelta, Sanjay served as Managing Director and Head of R & D of iCode’s Indian operations. Sanjay co-founded iCode (now called Everest Software, Inc. (http://www.everestsoftwareinc.com) in 1994 with a vision of developing an integrated ERP software solution for small businesses and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the global market. He helped raise multiple rounds of venture financing to help fund strategic initiatives and fuel the company's growth between 1999 and 2004. Before iCode, Sanjay was a founding partner of Accel, Inc., a $35 million "white box" PC retailer in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. Sanjay has also worked as a senior software engineer for Mentor Graphics where he was responsible for the design and development of several software design tools. He has held positions with Tektronix and the Virginia Tech Library Systems (VTLS). 

Sanjay sits on the Board of Directors of Sasken Technologies (http://www.sasken.com) and is an active member of TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs), YPO (Young Presidents' Organization), NASSCOM and several other industry committees and chambers of commerce in India and the US. An avid BPM practitioner, Sanjay has been instrumental in raising awareness of BPM and its benefits in India and he continues to espouse it at technology and business forums worldwide. Sanjay holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering from IIT Mumbai and a masters in computer science from Virginia Tech.


Skelta specializes in enterprise-wide BPM (Business Process Management) and advanced workflow solutions for small to large enterprises worldwide. Our flagship product, ‘Skelta BPM’, provides enterprises with a strong and collaborative platform that automates the sequence of Human, System and Document activities that are required to complete specific business goals.Skelta BPM delivers embeddable BPMS capabilities to be used within, and alongside, line-of-business applications. Skelta offers a centralized, stand-alone BPMS platform through its enterprise console and embeddable capabilities, which enables applications to have very contextual BPM integration. With 100% embeddable controls for process modeling, analysis, execution, work queues, and BAM, users can manage and control processes without leaving an application like Microsoft Office. Skelta also offers the capability to deliver multiple, simultaneous task alerts and responses through the Web, e-mail, SMS, and telephony. It offers multitenancy and online access to the environment, thus enabling a SaaS/cloud version to reduce barriers to access and use.

Skelta was recently named a winner in the coveted Red Herring Asia 2009 awards and one of the top emerging companies in India by NASSCOM. Skelta was also adjudged a Cool Vendor in the BPM arena by Gartner. Skelta, a recipient of the 2008 American Business Awards Finalist and CODiE Awards Finalist, has also won several other awards at industry forums such as Microsoft 2006 Regional Winning Customer Award, Microsoft Tech-Ed 2007 Attendee Choice Award, Finalist in 2007 International Business Awards (Stevie Awards), Best of Tech Ed award in the Software Components category and NASSCOM IT Innovation 2005 Award. Skelta has also been acknowledged twice as one of the fastest growing technology companies in India and Asia Pacific region by winning Deloitte Technology Fast 50 India & Deloitte Technology Fast 500 Asia Pacific Awards for 2006 and 2007.

Building companies from the startup stage is Sanjay Shah’s forte. In his replies to Indian Startup EMERGEOUT initiative by NASSCOM queries, he provides his perspective on entrepreneurship.

1. Why did you take up entrepreneurship journey?

Sanjay: I come from a family of entrepreneurs. While I was growing up I was very clear about earning a degree in some form of a technology, as science was always my area of interest. I got into IIT where my dreams became a reality and I met several academically bright people. However, my vision was always to apply my knowledge in technology to any business I would have eventually started. I was always intrigued by innovations and liked the idea of combining finance and business acumen in an effort to transform innovation into technology services. I am believer though that an entrepreneur to be successful must work for some company and experience what it is like to grow within an organization from ground up. It humbles you and it teaches you to respect everyone’s functions and its importance in fulfilling the needs of your success.

2. What keeps you going (how and where do you find your motivation levels)?

Sanjay: Technology and innovations keep me going. Creativity, in the way we can constantly evolve our product line, build services around our product, reaching out to different markets greatly enthuse me. A follow through till the time I can make such ideas a reality excites me. It is very important to me that our costs remain under control and I keep a check on the company’s ROI. I have to be a believer in what I do, passion is extremely important to me in anything I take up. I know that it is only then that I will succeed in whatever I plan to do. To me hard work is very important, once I set out a goal, I cannot relax till the job is done.

3. What is your advice to wannabe entrepreneurs in India?

Sanjay: I would say to all wannabe entrepreneurs in India that ‘you are at the right place at the right time!’ Go out there and just do it. Find yourselves strong mentors to follow, and it would be a good idea to build a well-rounded advisory board (even if it may be an informal one). It helps to learn from other people’s experiences and whetting your new ideas and help in planning your business strategy. Never be afraid to ask questions. Set clear goals and deadlines for yourself, and while perseverance is crucial, know when to cut your losses and move on. Finally, invest in a good team and a set of intelligent people who are right for the role that they are playing. Remember in order to succeed you have to invest in forming an excellent team with the right aptitude and attitude.

4. What success means to you and your organization?

Sanjay: Success to my organization and me mean three things.

  • My personal satisfaction: When you are an entrepreneur there is always going to be a small amount of risk taking involved. Risk taking is part of the challenge, but the risk has to be well thought out. You can’t just jump right into something without thinking it out completely from start to finish. The risk that you take would be an attainable risk. If I believe that there is going to be a much higher risk of failing rather then succeeding then I will need to avoid that specific challenge. Entrepreneurs choose their challenges by carefully calculating every aspect of it. After strategizing and thinking things through if we succeed I feel a personal high.
  • My teams’ satisfaction: If my team is motivated, happy to come to work, excited about their job and work I feel I have attained success. In today’s day and age, your team is the biggest asset and there is nothing more exciting then to come to work with a set of individuals who are always willing to take on challenges and work with high levels of passion and enthusiasm. I would like to give them a work environment that helps them attain growth, success and brings out the best in them.
  • The overall success of the organization: I believe that if both my team and I are putting in 100% of our efforts and if our goals are aligned the growth of the organization is assured.

5. What are your learnings from the failures?

Sanjay: The greatest recipe for a failure occurs when the team is not aware of the managements, vision, mission, value and goals. Everyone is putting in effort in silos and this disconnect can be a big price the company may end up paying. Another awareness an entrepreneur must have is that of planning a business plan that is sustainable. The dynamics of a business changes with the market volatility. It is times when there is a slow down that AMCs and repeat business from existing customers can help you sail through the tough times. Remember the principle of earning 70% of your revenue from 20% of your customers.

Sanjay’s mantras for success is well-thought out execution and investing in creativity. He bets on his team and also follows the principle of repeat businesses from select customers as against new businesses from many customers. This is the basis for building a strong brand and a sustainable business.

As part of the Indian Startup EMERGEOUT initiative by NASSCOM, 19 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

16. Yadu and Naresh or Robust Designs

17. Ananth Seshan of Fifth Generation

18. Shoma Bakre of EmPower Research

19. Raj Hajela of Estel

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.

The Chair of the EMERGEOUT Forum, Mr. Krishnakumar Natarajan, has provided the highlights of the EMERGEOUT Conclave in addition to details about EMERGE Forum and its activities. Please visit http://bit.ly/ckRFhI to read his interview to YourStory.

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 http://bit.ly/dvMYqq

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 http://bit.ly/ahqdqO for details.

Kiruba Shankar, CEO Business Blogging, is holding an “unconference” at the conclave.

The e-governance projects like the Unique ID scheme of the government present huge opportunities for SMEs. One of the sessions at the conclave will explore this opportunity.

For a list of speakers, see http://bit.ly/dvMYqq

The complete program agenda is available: http://bit.ly/9on2ci An impressive lineup of programs awaits 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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