India, where even happiness is a business opportunity.
By Randall Mang
Bangalore – A stated mission to build the world’s happiest IT company with the world’s happiest employees and happiest customers may sound lofty. But after meeting visionary Ashok Soota it is apparent that if anyone can do it, it will be him.
Stately yet soft spoken, Soota is executive chairman and co-founder of Happiest Minds Technologies, a Bangalore-based firm that has grown from a standing start in 2011 to a presence in eight countries and a staff of 1,400 employees – a vast number of them software engineers.
Sharing an audience with Soota and other senior executives from his team was a highlight for nine Canadian firms that visited Bangalore on January 21 as part of a trade mission led by the Information Technologies Association of Canada.
Deeply spiritual, Soota is a serial entrepreneur known for co-founding MindTree, a global outsourcing and IT company.
At Happiest Minds Soota is guiding the development and commercialization of disruptive technologies in big data, analytics, cloud computing, mobility and security. Despite the firm’s bench strength, Soota admits Happiest Minds needs help to achieve its goals.
Bangalore’s skilled yet highly mobile labour force is both an asset and a risk for Happiest Minds. Here, up and coming software engineers are prone to making a name for themselves at one firm only to jump ship to another. Despite efforts that include a generous stock sharing arrangement and enviable workplace practices, Happiest Minds is not immune to attrition.
Holding court, Soota spoke directly with each member of the Canadian delegation, carefully penning notes about each firm’s capabilities and how they could potentially work with Happiest Minds.
Among them, Garry Brownrigg, founder and CEO of software developer QuickSilk, was invited to provide a follow-up demonstration of his firm’s novel, enterprise-grade Content Management System (CMS), which enables non-technical users to quickly build and manage websites and also track user experiences within the site.
The fact that Soota and several other senior executives took the time to personally meet with a delegation of diverse, small to medium-sized technology firms is indicative of India’s business culture and its gamely pursuit of new opportunities and advantages.
During the mission, delegates were strongly advised that success in India would ultimately require them to establish a local presence, typically through partnerships with India-based firms.
An Economic Times article on Twitter’s recent $35-million acquisition of Bangalore-based missed-call marketing firm ZipDial underscored the point.
While acknowledging that foreign firms operating in an emerging market face substantial hurdles, the article noted that foreign firms like ZipDial, which have hit it big in India, “credit their success to their Indian counterparts, who were critical every step of the way from understanding the local market to legally incorporating a business.”
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