"Oh, to be in India"... That pretty much sums up the typical US-based Indian mindset after some years on Uncle Sam's shores. A paradigm shift, perhaps? Be that as it may, the next question doing the rounds in techie minds isn't about chasing rainbows but "go back and do what?"
A question Kerala-born, US-based Vinod Chandran asked himself, when he developed the twitching sensation of coming home. He'd been with Nortel Networks since 1986 and as he himself says," The Nortel work experience was great and I didn't think anyone could substitute that. So, it had to be different." No way was he going to work for nobody. The solution came when his ex-Nortel colleague Jawad, holidayed in India and caught up with old buddy Vinod. The equation was just right between the two, the mind was willing and many, many discussions later, in 1995 technology witnessed the emergence of yet another start-up - TeleSoft.
TeleSoft's focus on telecom is driven by the fact that telecom had tremendous growth potential in India. "Those were the early days of Software Services and with our Nortel experience we decided to focus on telecom," says Vinod, referring to the fact that they had a competitive edge "and we were able to offer a lot more than others could do in India." As things turned out, Nortel was TeleSoft's first customer followed by others.
About a year and half ago they invested in products. Last year, they set up a US-based subsidiary in Dallas by name XYbridge Technologies to take the product to the market and the real market was in the US. "We were making good margins on our services and we invested a million dollars of our own money in creating this product," adds Vinod. They got themselves Venture Capital funding and built the tech product called "Soft Switch. Apparently, it turned out to be a fairly successful product and today Xybridge is an over 100-people company with many ex-Nortel employees working with Vinod and Jawad.
Strange phenomena, this business of Indians leaving big companies in the US to set up shop in India, develop a service or product and open an Indian subsidiary in the US. Why, we asked Vinod and we couldn't have got a better reply, "That's what the start-up mentality is all about. This is an area of huge shift in technology. For large companies to get into that early, they're effectively cannibalizing their existing product lines. So it's the start-ups that come out with new technology. And then the large players decide after they've seen which technology survives to build it in-house or if they don't have the technology, buy the company."
"It's good for the industry. We want innovation," says Vinod. So now we know how Indians are getting rich. After all, we invented the zero, didn't we?
TeleSoft has its niche in the IT set-up. Technology-wise they are well entrenched amongst those who matter. And being a start-up hasn't bogged them down in any way. Least of all getting people to work for them. "More than 50% of our employees are from the premier institutions in the country, " says Vinod, who loves going to the campus scouting for the best talent he can find. "Money is most certainly an important criteria working for a start-up," he adds.
And as they plan to increase their customer base and with more manpower likely to get added on, "Happy Birthday, TeleSoft" should actually be on the day Vinod and Jawad met 5 years ago.