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  Sanjay Shah, MD, Icode Software Meeting Point (2001)  

Sanjay ShahSomeone once asked, "You code?" and there was this reply, " Yes, Icode". No fairy tale this, but fact. It was four years ago, three friends joined together in Virginia, USA resulting in the setting up of Icode Software. Significantly, Icode's beginnings weren't rooted into software, though it was the prime motive for their start-up.

"All of us had some kind of entrepreneurial spirit in ourselves and we wanted to do something different and something related to software," says Sanjay Shah, Managing Director, Icode. Typically, the "great-idea-no-money" syndrome stayed with them. And neither wanted to tap their parents for "pocket change". Ali Jani - an Iranian by birth and a computer hobbyist - tinkered around with computer parts he had purchased and assembled a computer. "In those days (87-88) a computer was available for 2500 dollars and we were able to make it for 1000 dollars," explains Sanjay as to how the hardware business came about with the birth of Excel Computers.

True isn't it, when they say, "Necessity is the mother of invention". For Sanjay Shah and company the decision was a "mother of survivals". Soon enough, they found their business growing. By 1992 they were making more than 100 computers a day, had an annual turnover of 35 million dollars and a team of 140 employees. Excel Computers was the talk of the town in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area and they were the largest compatible manufacturers of IBM PCs at that time in that area.

And still no sign of the software they had wanted to develop in the first place.

Pragmatic thinking was the guiding beacon for the trio - Sanjay, Bijal Mehta and Ali Jani. They were in a business they didn't want to be in, cutthroat as it was. Software was their area of expertise and they weren't anywhere near it. They decided to hive off Excel Computers. Mantek International, a Fortune 500 company bought them "lock, stock and barrel" in early 1994. Sanjay and his friends didn't come away exactly rich, but the sale ensured they'd be able to survive at least 3 years, sufficient enough to develop "this software thing they had actually set out to do". For the next two and half years it was software development all the way and by 1996 they had their first "Accware" software completely done and one of the key programmers was Sanjay Shah himself.

"Accware" successfully integrates various departments within an organization. A distinctive feature of this software package was that it function as the core of not just the accounting department, but also the entire organization. Focusing on effective interdepartmental communication, "Accware" enables maximization of profits by implementing a paperless information flow among all business functions. Whether the need is to involve gathering data, compiling it, or analyzing it, Accware will help make intelligent decisions at every level.

By 1996 - what with Indian IT talent at affordable costs - Sanjay moved to Bangalore and set up Icode's Indian operations in Koramangala. Ali Jani stayed on in the US taking care of technical aspects and Bijal Mehta does the back and forth jaunt handling Marketing & Sales. Today Icode generates revenues over 10 million US Dollars and all in just 4 years from start-up.

Amazing isn't it? Sanjay Shah's academic background is in Computer Science. His sharp business acumen originates from his being a Gujarati, a well-respected business community. Now, that's a pretty well integrated package. And like his "Accware" software "helping you make intelligent decisions all the way".

"You code?" Of course he does - to 10 million USD and more coming up.

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