|HOME | US EDITION | SUCCESS STORY|
June 7, 1999
The Man Who Would Create 100 Millionaires
A P Kamath in New York
By now you might have read many times how Bharat Desai founded Syntel nearly 20 years ago out of his home in Troy, Michigan with just $ 2,000 in capital and guided it to growing into a leading information technology company with 1998 revenues of $ 168 million and over 2,000 people in offices across the world.
But unless you hear him talk about the birth of his company, you may not realize that the vice-president of his company, Neerja Sethi, was a crucial investment in his plans. For, she was part of the home where he founded Syntel. Desai has been married to her for more than two decades. He says she is among the three people who have influenced him most -- the others being his mother and the principal of St Xaviers High School, Ahmedabad.
Today, many call Desai, whose firm ranked number 11 on BusinessWeek's 1999 Top 100 Hot Growth Companies, a significant improvement over 1998's ranking of 70, their own inspiration.
"With limited capital, Bharat Desai founded a world-class technology consulting company that has created over 2,000 jobs and was recently recognized as number two in the Forbes ranking of the Best 200 Small Companies in America," said Richard Penington, a director of the Harvard Business School Club of Detroit and chairperson for the event.
Two months ago, Syntel announced that Syntel Europe Ltd has signed a multi-year IT services agreement with Budget Rent a Car International, England to provide a host of IT services. The agreement comes after the successful completion of a project that started in October 1998 for the Hemel Hempstead, an England-based corporation.
Syntel helped Budget build a three-tier client/server system that serves as a quick reference directory to enable customer service representatives to speed up the process of booking car and van reservations. The system is expected to significantly increase the number of calls processed by the center and also further enhance customer service.
"Syntel has been very responsive to a variety of Budget's IT resource requirements, providing high quality talent, well suited to the task," said Bob Hecht, Budget International's Chief Information Officer. "Syntel recently played a key role in the development of a custom built addition to Budget's reservations system which has resulted in a significant savings in time and money. We look forward to a long and mutually rewarding relationship."
Prior to this project with Syntel, the Budget reservation center used a largely manual process to look up data pertaining to a car/van reservation process. This process resulted in longer than necessary wait times.
Syntel also provides cutting-edge applications management and technology consulting services to Fortune 500 companies such as AIG, Dayton Hudson, Daimler-Chrysler, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia, and Borders.
"We have already created 15 millionaires in the company.... We believe in the next five years we will create 100 millionaires," says Kenya-born Desai, who was raised in India, and earned a degree at IIT before moving to the United States for higher studies.
Like many start-up companies, Desai's company, too, had to face an uphill struggle; in the first year, it made just about $ 30,000 -- far less than the combined income of him and his wife had they worked for another firm. One of their biggest challenges back then was getting potential clients to listen.
Desai says he would never forget the day that an executive warned him and his salespeople never set foot in that company. But Desai persisted, and that company later became one of his biggest clients.
Persistence is one of the keys to the success to his venture, says Desai, who was determined to start his business as he took up a job at Tata Consultancy Services in 1975.
In Bombay, he began with a salary was Rs 769 (about $ 20). As he blew Rs 25 on a bridge book, he told himself he should start his own business so that he could afford to buy many more books.
In America, as he forged ahead with his business plans, he hardly had times for books.
"BD maintains grueling schedules, often working 16 hours a day," fellow IITian Raj Mashruwala says. "I used to receive telephone calls from BD at 2 am routinely. As Syntel crossed $ 30m, $ 50m and $ 100m in revenues, we urged BD to take life easy. BD stayed on his path and has continued to lead Syntel during the steep growth period."
Where is Syntel headed?
Desai points out that as more and more organizations search for new ways to meet the rapidly-developing technological changes and an increasing shortage of qualified Information Technology professionals, the market for IT outsourcing services continues to grow.
In fact, according to a recent Dataquest report, the worldwide professional IT services market is expected to double to approximately $ 600 billion by 2002. To make the most out of this opportunity, Syntel has developed a broad array of innovative IT solutions to help some of the biggest names in business, he says.
Given his determination to take his firm to the very top of next year's Business Week's 100 Hot Growth Companies, can anyone expect his working days to be less than 16 hours?
BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | GIFT SHOP | HOTEL RESERVATIONS | WORLD CUP 99
EDUCATION | PERSONAL HOMEPAGES | FREE EMAIL | FEEDBACK