At 24, he may seem to lead a charmed life. While others of his age are hunting jobs and chasing dreams, this young man churns out dreams and attends power meetings of the World Bank's ICT Board, of which he is a member. He may not often catch up with friends for coffee, but he's shared a cuppa with the Founders of Microsoft, Google and You Tube. He may have discontinued college owing to shortage of attendance, but he gets invited to speak at the IITs and IIMs. President of multinational IT consulting company, Globals Inc, Suhas Gopinath's life is a study in irony.
Suhas who hogged headlines at 17 as the youngest CEO in the world, did not have wealth, power or high connections to back him, but an innate curiosity and a persistent refusal to accept no for an answer. Neither the son of a tycoon nor born into a well-heeled family, the middle class boy, claims it was age that was his biggest hurdle.
At a recent visit to Tiruchi, Suhas called for an image makeover of the Indian IT industry. “We cannot market India as an outsourcing hub anymore. We need to come up with world class innovations like Facebook or Google. Though India is an outsourcing hotspot, we find ourselves outsourcing to the U.S when it comes to high-end applications. It is high time universities upscale themselves”.
With a monthly pocket money of Rs. 15, Suhas could not afford access to the internet, but intrigued by the possibilities of the cyber world, he worked at a neighbourhood café in exchange for free access. Self-tutored, he built his own website in six months.
But when he decided to turn into a freelancer for firms, he was rejected on account of his age. “My goal was to turn every rejection into acceptance.”
He collaborated with an American friend to form Globals Inc. School kid by morning and manager by night, he had to take a break to complete his board exams due to parental pressure. From a home office, the company soon established its presence in West Asia, Europe and Africa.
Paradox of life
It is a paradox that someone who hit upon the attendance management software had to discontinue his college education due to lack of attendance. “It is the nastiest software we built,” he shares with a grin. “Under the system, parents would not have to wait for the annual PTA meetings to know about their children's attendance or academic performance; they would receive immediate notification.
The software was designed to maximise the teacher's focus on academic tasks and minimise administration tension.” Incidentally, Suhas could not sit for his last semester exams due to shortage of attendance brought about by frequent World Bank meetings coupled with the company's demands on his time.
“Though the management did not allow me to sit for the exams, there was a personal moment of triumph. My tutor consoled me and then surprised me by handing me his resume. It is not often your own professor applies for a job in your company,” he chuckles.
Building a multinational company from the age of 17 would mean compromising on a normal teenage and youth. “There have been many sacrifices I have had to make. But the thought that I am able to provide employment to so many people gives me the greatest satisfaction.”
“Parents would not have to wait for the annual PTA meetings to know about their children's attendance”