An interesting story of a 60 year old entrepreneur and how he took his company to the next level.
“It is a myth that entrepreneurs have to be young. But the early-stage entrepreneurs often don’t know what they don’t know so they go on to change the world.”
Very seldom you come across stories when a 60 years old entrepreneur establishes a start-up, which is aiming for $100 million revenues within 4 years!
Well this is the story of Ashok Soota, Co-Founder of Happiest Mind Limited a tale that began well before the Indian ITeS story even started in the real sense.
Ashok Soota was born on November 1942 in what is now the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan. His father was a doctor in the British Indian army. He had studied in 12 schools and for some years in multiple schools for same academic years. Ashok Soota received his Bachelor of Electronics degree from IIT Roorkee and post that he pursued his MBA.
In 1965, Ashok began his career with the Shriram Group of Companies after completing his engineering degree from IIT-Roorkee and In 1985, he was hired by Azim Premji to build Wipro's IT business and over the next half a decade or so, Soota virtually became Wipro's poster boy, and eventually went on to be the company's vice-chairman. When Soota left as president of Wipro Infotech in 1998, the division’s revenue was $500 million (around Rs2,220 crore now).
Well the poster boy was not ready to settle, and his career took a fresh turn in 1999 when he founded Mindtree along with 10 senior executives from a number of companies including Wipro. The next decade saw Mindtree go from strength to strength till it became one of the most successful stories in India's mid-tier IT space and in March 2007 IPO was subscribed more than 100 times.
During a conversation with Mint, Soota said “People have underestimated us in the past and we have proved them wrong. I am confident we will do it again,".
The Mindtree episode, however, came to an unexpected end Differences of opinion soon began to emerge between the founders which lead to departure of Soota from Mindtree by selling his shares in the company.
Well story didn’t end there in 2011, at the ripe age of 68, Soota embarked on another fresh entrepreneurial journey at a time when most industry insiders thought that India had no space for another ITeS player, he brought Happiest Minds into being with same strategy as Mindtree, with 10 Co-founders and rest is the history
Ashok Soota Launch Happiest Mind https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZQUD1M_PAs
Happiest Minds was over subscribed 151 times. The IPO got bids for 3.51 billion shares versus the 23.3million on offer, ranking it among India’s most successful first-time share sales of this decade.
Unlike the young first-generation entrepreneurs who are dominating the tech-startup ecosystem in India currently, Soota is an experienced IT leader who has built both tier 1and mid-tier companies like Wipro and Mindtree when the dot com boom and digital/e-commerce waves disrupted the IT industry.
The unique ways in which Soota is able to tap into investors' mindsets and launch his companies successfully on stock exchanges are perhaps elusive to young startup founders for whom profitability still remains a concern.