Small is beautiful, it is often said. Being small, however, is a big constraint in business. Ask Suresh Kamath. He will vouch for it. After twenty three summers since he founded Laser Soft Infosystems, Mr. Kamath has decided to think big. Surely, his decision to sell the company he has nurtured all these years must have been a painful one to him. Given the emerging environment, he has done only the wisest.
Big is the name of the modern game. Most banks - be it public sector ones or private entities - have this fascination for name, reputation and size while awarding IT (information technology) contracts. Who delivers matters more than what is delivered efficiently. Not surprisingly, they fix a minimum networth norm for any eligible bidders among the IT solution providers. This automatically stops companies like Laser Soft at the gate itself.
Given this hard reality, Mr. Kamath has been in a fix for sometime now. A man with a huge heart, he has taken on board a sizeable number of physically challenged persons. Company officials have said that over 15 per cent of Laser staff comprised physically challenged persons. A larger social concern has seen him avoid rushing into any action that would jeopardise the jobs of these people. But then he has to contend with the realities business in the modern day. Protecting the jobs of his employees, keeping the business growing and ensuring his control - these have proved tough assignments for Mr. Kamath as a first generation entrepreneur.
By selling his company to Arun Jain-piloted Polaris, Mr. Kamath has done the right thing. For one, the Polaris connection will help Laser acquire financial power to bid for bank projects without let or hindrance. For another, it could ensure the protection of jobs through improved business prospects. In the process, he has chosen to transit from a being an owner to an employee. It is a tough decision to make. But, Mr. Kamath has taken it boldly.
Not long ago, we have seen how the owners of Cybernet SlashSupport, which has huge presence in Chennai, were edged out by the PE (private equity) investors from the operational management. According to the new management team, there was wide divergence of views between the founders and PE investors over the growth strategy to be adopted for Cybernet.
One need not dispute this theory. The fact of the matter, however, is that founders of Cybernet had failed miserably in their judgement. ``They want to eat the cake and have it too,'' quipped a long-time watcher of Cybernet. Read against this Cybernet backdrop, owner Mr. Kamath in this instance has kept the growth interest of Laser above his own personal interest of controlling the company.
There is also a huge difference in these two cases. In the case of Laser, the management is passed on to entrepreneur Mr. Arun Jain-driven Polaris. In the case of Cybernet, however, the founders were replaced by PE-led management team. Will the alliance between two entrepreneur-led firms mark a new welcome beginning in the mindsets of the promoters?