Young Malayalis heading small IT firms talk about doing business in ‘emerging’ Kerala
They say that it’s the time ‘to emerge’; the time to enter the IT business in Kerala. Apart from big companies such as Accenture and Capgemini opening shop in Technopark, more and more people, it seems, are taking the plunge and becoming IT entrepreneurs.
In Technopark’s Technology Business Incubator (T-TBI), for example, at least 15 companies have been incubated the past year alone and that’s not counting the now ubiquitous college start-ups. And in Technopark itself, a good majority of the 240-plus companies are medium or small enterprises.
“If you want to get into the IT business in Kerala, now is the time,” says Arun Das, project manager and co-founder, Hueray Technologies, a Technopark-based design and brand building company. “In Kerala we have quite a large resource pool of talent capable of delivering quality work, which is actually a boon to small IT firms that don’t have much in way of financial flexibility,” adds Arun. He founded the company in August 2012 along with his work buddies Sajish and Mukesh.
Dileish G., chief executive officer (CEO) and managing director, Technocuz Software Solutions, a web and software development firm headquartered in Paripally, Kollam, agrees. “My partners [his college-mates at Younus College of Engineering and Technology, Kollam] Safil S., Darshan G., Anish Prasannan and Niaz A. Kalam and I just knew that we had to take advantage of the IT boom in Kerala. We set up Technocuz in 2009 and in August 2012 we signed up for T-TBI. The biggest benefit by far of doing business in Kerala is the amazing resource pool. Besides, running a small business here seems more cost effective than running it in the metros. We don’t have to pay exorbitant salaries, which most small firms can ill afford. Also, neither the company nor our employees have to spend much in way of day to day incidentals, again, a huge advantage.”
Praveen P.C. of Droidsys Technologies that has offices in Kochi and Technopark adds: “It helps that a fair number of the populace in Kerala is tech-savvy, which means there is a potential customer base and market.”
However, doing business in Kerala, is not without its challenges and difficulties, say these young Malayalis. Ayyappan A. is CEO of Enfin Technologies started in May 2009 in Bangalore. The firm, which specialises in live media streaming application development for mobile and web platforms, was incubated in T-TBI in May 2012.
Says Ayyappan: “Like all start-ups anywhere, getting the initial investment is the key. Equally challenging is building up a client base. Talking from experience, small firms need experts to mentor them, if they want to grow and to help them think out-of-the-box. For example, after Enfin moved to T-TBI, we immediately felt the positive effects of increased exposure, contacts and mentorship that is widely available here.”
While Deliesh opines that building up credibility is another issue for small firms, Arun seems more concerned about overcoming the competition.
“When you have as healthy a business system as you have here in Kerala at present, there is also a whole lot of competition too. Tens of firms would possibly be bidding for the same projects. It all then depends on the quality of your work,” says Arun.
Parteeksha A.K., one of the few women who started their entrepreneurship journey last year, adds: “Risk and business go hand in hand. It’s up to each of us to find our niche area. It all depends on us being pro-active, especially if your business depends on the next generation of technology.”
Pratheeksha is the CEO of AmidRay Technologies, which she founded with her schoolmates from Cochin Refinery School, Rohith R.K. and Nithin Bose. “It’s also a great time to be a woman entrepreneur. I have never felt any sort of discrimination because of my gender. And I think it’s because of the change in society’s attitude towards women professionals. Of course, I have a great team and a supportive family behind me.”
Praveen adds: “If you have a good team, a commitment and passion to your work and funding, you can face any challenge.”