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In the era of Artificial Intelligence, Sahaj makes IT simple

Vishal Krishna
9th Jan 2018
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Worldwide IT spending is projected at $3.7 trillion in 2018, up 4.3 percent from $3.5 trillion estimated for 2017, and this IT services company wants to drive simplicity in business processes over long drawn sales.

Startup: Sahaj

Founders: Rohit Bansal, Nitin Dhall, Sunder Mayandi, and Akash Agrawal

Year it was founded: 2014

Where it is based: Bengaluru, US

The problem it solves: Offers industry agnostic IT solutions

Sector: IT

Funding raised: Bootstrapped, founders together invested $500,000

Rohit Bansal, Nitin Dhall, Sunder Mayandi, and Akash Agrawal are IT veterans who witnessed the heights the IT services industry touched over the last decade.

They realised that with the increase in the speed of computing, and fall in storage prices, they could use their knowledge to not go mobile, but visualise data. They could build what a client wanted, from stitching legacy applications to the cloud to building chatbots, to consulting on a company’s software journey.

“This is what we do. We are agile and do not have structures in the company to stifle ideation process,” says Akash, the co-founder of Sahaj.

While everyone is seeing a slowdown in IT services, Sahaj has brought in a fresh new approach to the software business. Today’s IT is about being agile and outcome driven, and clients want shorter project cycles because the cloud allows applications to be deployed and scaled up faster.

Large IT services companies typically go after projects that clock them a minimum of $10 million in revenue and focus on old-school IT implementation, which basically throws people into building a solution.

“We want every project to have an agile team that can execute fast and help clients with deadlines,” says Akash. He adds that his company does not to exploit clients, partners and individuals. “The old way of IT is all about the sales process and people were treated like robots,” he says.

This was where the four founders wanted to break old practices systematically.

The beginning

The founders met at Thoughtworks, a global firm known for building software for several projects, that eventually made it to the United Nations. Thoughtworks is also known for its open work culture, which imbibed a sense of change of purpose with four of the founders. They quit in 2014 and started a company that would be industry agnostic. “We decided that if we are a bunch of engineers, we have to listen to the client and use our experience to build solutions,” says Akash.

At Sahaj, everyone works like a modern startup. One can take up any role that they like, provided they are confident of getting the work done. The company’s big break came when Nandan Nilekani’s education foundation EkStep made Sahaj its IT partner.

Here, the team used machine learning tools to gamify education. They helped the foundation to build a contextual platform for learning and their open APIs allow third parties to build education repositories.

The company has worked with a dozen large clients and has worked with over 35 startups. “Our motto is to write software better than anyone, and design simple solutions out there in a modern IT environment,” says Akash.

The company has an annual run rate of $5 million, and this is projected to reach $8 million by the end of 2019. The company has 60 employees, and the founders together have invested $500,000.

Currently, Akash and Sunder take care of Sahaj’s US operations, whereas Rohit and Nitin take care of the Indian operations.

“There is a lot of talk around disruptive IT. But to be disruptive you need to surround yourself with a team that believes in it,” says Akash.

Sahaj’s competition is new age IT service companies like Happiest Minds and Embytes.

Worldwide IT spending is projected to total $3.7 trillion in 2018, which would be an increase of 4.3 percent from the estimated spending of $3.5 trillion in 2017, according to the latest forecast by Gartner Inc.

Enterprise software and IT services continue to exhibit strong growth, with communications services continuing to drive the majority of spending. Software spending is projected to have grown 8.5 percent in 2017, and it will grow 9.4 percent in 2018 to total $387 billion. IT services spending is on pace to have grown 4 percent in 2017 to reach $931 billion, and increase 5.3 percent in 2018 to reach $980 billion.

The top 10 markets — which include three cloud segments (infrastructure as a service [IaaS], integrated platform as a service [iPaas] and communications platform as a service [cPaaS]) — and a range of other technologies that enhance the digital workplace, such as workstream collaboration, workforce analytics and video message-oriented middleware (MOM) to security (endpoint detection and response), analytics (smart data discovery) and storage (in-memory data grids) are tied to enabling and enhancing an enterprise's digital transformation efforts.

"The IT buying landscape is changing: Digital business transformation is an effort to create connected, platforms and new industry revenue streams," says John David Lovelock, research VP at Gartner. “Organisations that are not creating new digital business models or new ways to engage constituents or customers are falling behind. Those vendors that do not move more quickly than their clients will be left behind,” he says.

This is exactly why Sahaj is betting big on the future of IT and is ready to take on big companies such as Wipro and Infosys. However, Akash believes that the best way to start is to offer simplicity, which will become the ultimate sophistication.

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