5 Indian IT/ITES entrepreneurs who flourished without IIT/IIM education
When talking about successful IIT graduates, the inspirational business stories of Narayana Murthy and Nandan Nilekani (Infosys), Sachin Bansal (Flipkart) and Vinod Khosla (Sun Microsystems) come to mind.
The same goes for IIM success stories in the form of Sanjeev Bikhchandani (Naukri.com), Deep Kalra (MakeMyTrip) and Ajit Balakrishnan (Rediff.com).
However, there are several successful business founders who have shown great entrepreneurial success without being a part of this elite IIT-IIM club.
India boasts several examples of non-IIT and non-IIM founders who have set up tech/IT/ITes enterprises and gone on to achieve success over a long period of time.
Here is a list of five such Indian entrepreneurs you should know about:
Piyush Somani - ESDS Software Solution
In 2003, University of Pune graduate Piyush Somani and seven friends started a small web hosting support business, but they couldn’t afford to rent an office.
Luckily for them, a friend’s mother ran a kindergarten centre in the city, and she offered the space to Piyush and his team to run the business after the kids had left. Piyush agreed.
Gathering a few computers from their homes and installing them in the kindergarten room, Piyush and friends began their small web hosting support business. Today, it is known as ESDS Software Solution.
Today, ESDS is no longer a group of web support workers sitting in a kindergarten centre. Piyush has grown his business into a Rs 160 crore revenue managed data centre and cloud hosting services provider with over 850 employees.
Ram Sukumar - Indium Software
Ram Sukumar, Co-founder and CEO, Indium Software
Birla Institute of Technology and Science graduate Ram Sukumar fell in love with technology and wanted to start his own software and tech services company. However, setting up a business in the US was too expensive.
Returning to India, he started a small corporate training and software testing company known as Indium. Ram and his cousin Vijay Balaji invested their savings and took up an office in Chennai.
“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 8 to 10 people, and began work on application development and corporate training,” he says.
With no prior experience in running a company, Ram grew his business into a technology services consulting company with expertise in digital, Big Data solutions, and more. It is targeting $30 million (around Rs 221.4 crore) revenue this year.
Arun Nathani - Cybage Software
Cybage founder, CEO and MD Arun Nathani
GB Pant University graduate Arun Nathani’s story begins in 1987, when he moved to the US to complete his masters, find a job, and settle there. Despite checking all these things off his list, he was still not happy.
He longed to return to India, but he had no real plans of building a business empire.
Yet, today, Arun 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), Cybage Software recorded Rs 1,106 crore revenue in 2019-20, he claims.
Arun’s company has offices in North America, Europe, and APAC countries that provide services in over 150 regions worldwide
Christopher Richard - G7CR Technologies
Christopher Richard, MD and Chief Cloud Architect, G7 CR Technologies
After losing his father at an early age, Christopher Richard dropped out of school after class 12. The boy then chanced upon a three-month course on computers at a local skills training academy, which began his journey into the world of IT.
Eventually, he became a business consultant. One day, a customer referred him to G7, a group of companies involved in finance, insurance, electronics, healthcare, etc. Christopher saw one of the companies under the group, named G7 Tech Solutions, needed a consultant to help it acquire more customers.
“I worked as a consultant for G7 Tech Solutions, but felt I could do more. Long story short, I bought out the company, and merged it with my consultancy company,” he says.
The merger gave birth to G7 CR Technologies, and Christopher started its cloud division in 2016. Christopher’s remarkable journey saw him cross Rs 100 crore within three years of starting the cloud computing business.
Satya Prabhakar - Sulekha
Satya Prabhakar, CEO and Founder, Sulekha.com
Chennai-based NIT graduate Satya Prabhakar had anticipated that the proliferation of the Internet would lead to physical directories being phased out, and business and service providers listing online.
"I ran an online listing service prior to 2015, which was like an online Yellow Pages. This served a utilitarian purpose of connecting consumers with a range of local businesses in more than 100 cities across India and the USA," he explains.
His business Sulekha pivoted in 2015 to become a pure-play digital platform for local services where consumers (with service needs) and service providers find each other.
And as people increasingly started looking for services online, Satya led Sulekha to become a multi-million dollar, end-to-end local service fulfilment brand we recognise today.