Meet 4 engineers who returned from the US and built successful businesses in India
For many years now, the US has remained the preferred destination for aspirational Indian engineers to study and work. While many take up a well-paying corporate job, some set up their own businesses in the US to be closer to large tech customers.
However, it is more affordable to make early mistakes and take time to figure out a business strategy in India. Further, the glamour associated with the US as a land of opportunity may fizzle out for some budding entrepreneurs that long to return home to their families in India.
Here are the stories of four Indian engineers who returned from the US and set up successful businesses in India:
Raj Darji – Aarav Solutions
As the son of a farmer, Raj Darji could not afford to study in the US. Taking up a local job, Raj worked at a broadband firm before working on Oracle billing and revenue management technology – which gave him a chance to move to the US to work.
“In 2006, I got my H-1B visa and travelled to the US. In 2011, I came back to India to get my visa stamped, but due to an unexpected delay, the process took over 10 months," he says, adding:
"During this time, I was working with my US employers remotely, but I had to stay in India and did not know whether I would be able to go back to the US. That was when I decided to leverage my consulting and IT experience, and start my own bootstrapped business – Aarav Solutions.”
Applying entrepreneurial lessons learned from watching his father work in the fields, Raj grew the business to a team size of over 130, with offices in India, the US and Canada – all without ever taking any external funding.
Kishore Indukuri – Sid’s Farm
Kishore Indukuri dreamed of studying and working in the US – much like many of his peers. But six years into his US job at Intel, Kishore realised his real passion was agriculture.
Back in India, his family owned land in Karnataka, and Kishore remembered how he used to visit the fields and spend time interacting with farmers.
He says, “I decided to quit my job and return to my agricultural roots. Moving back to Hyderabad, I realised that there were limited options for affordable, unadulterated milk. I wanted to bring a change not only for my son and my family but also for the people of Hyderabad.”
In 2012, the US-returned engineer purchased 20 cows from Coimbatore and set up his own dairy farm in the city. He then started supplying milk directly to consumers on a subscription basis, and his business began to grow.
In 2016, it was officially registered as Sid’s Farm. Now, the 120-employee brand delivers milk to over 10,000 customers daily, and achieved Rs 44 crore turnover last year, Kishore claims.
Ram Sukumar – Indium Software
Twenty-six-year-old Ram Sukumar returned to India from the US with a dream. The industrial engineer had fallen in love with technology and wanted to start his own software and technology services company.
In 1999, he started Indium Software as a corporate training and software testing company in Chennai. Ram had his reasons for starting in India. Besides preferring the Indian lifestyle, he found setting up a business in the US to be too expensive.
“We wanted to go ahead without the fear of failure. However, we didn’t have the luxury of enormous capital. We hired a team of eight to 10 people, and began work on application development and corporate training,” he says.
Despite having no prior experience in building and scaling a company, the US-returned engineer grew his business into a leading technology services consulting company.
Today, Indium has expertise in digital, big data solutions, Quality Assurance (QA) and low code development, and is targeting $30 million (around Rs 221.4 crore) revenue in 2021.
Arun Nathani – Cybage Software
After working for five years at a Chicago-based manufacturing company as a design engineer, Arun Nathani decided to pack his bags and return to India.
Arun’s story begins in 1987 when he moved to the US to complete his masters, find a job, and settle there. He graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and found work in Chicago.
But he still wasn’t happy.
“I fit the bill of a regular, next-door Indian who had an extended overseas stint. My favourite weekend hobby was to discuss returning home,” he says.
Arun maintains he was never a visionary who had spent his time thinking about how to build a business empire. Yet, today, he is the Founder and CEO of Pune-based Cybage Software, a technology consulting organisation that specialises in outsourced product engineering services.
Providing technology consulting and professional services to global Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), the 6,300-employee strong Cybage Software recorded Rs 1,106 crore revenue in 2019-20.
Edited by Kanishk Singh