`Surveyor' - a success story

May 10, 2004 12:00 am | Updated 12:00 am IST

Sonti Srihari is not your archetypical software professional. He's not those flashy, city-bred convent educated kind. Rather, he hails from a small village of Bethavolu near Gudivada town in Andhra Pradesh and grew up in a humble family struggling to make both ends meet.

Yet, it has not stopped the 27-year-old young man from scripting a success story and proving once again that hard work, determination and dedication would be have its rewards. He's the inventor of the pioneering software package very useful in making complex calculations for estimates and bills for laying roads and canals much easier.

Titled `Surveyor' (www.surveyorsoft.com), it has come as a big boon to contractors and Government departments like the Panchayat Raj, Roads & Buildings, Irrigation engineers and others to simplify procedures and speed up works.

"It's suitable to meet the needs of local conditions and very flexible. You need not be computer literate to use it and the work can be completed within few days," explains Srihari, an M.Tech student of the Hyderabad Central University. Remarkably, the entire software was designed, conceptualised and written all alone by himself when he had just passed out of the MCA course from Nagarjuna University.

"I worked for 18 hours a day on a computer provided by my father's friend, M.S.N. Murthy. I was pretty sure I could come out with a solution," he says. It took him four months to write the code. It was Mr. Murthy, a retired engineer, who had sought his help in a simple software solution for civil road works.

"He had no idea what I was going to come up and thought it would take only a few days," he recalls, with a smile. Call it foolhardiness or sheer bravado; he went about working at it when his family expected him to take up a job to tide over its tight financial position. He even refused an offer from a Chennai-based software firm.

The single minded effort did not go waste as Mr. Murthy was impressed with `Surveyor' and gave his very first payment enabling him to buy a computer. "Existing software is rigid and usage is restricted unlike my `Surveyor'," he says. "I started working from sixth class onwards even running a shop to supplement my family income. When you learn to look after yourself from childhood you know what to do," he says about his confidence.

Response from other contractors, too, was encouraging and when he was ruminating on marketing `Surveyor', he ran into a trickster who promised to sell it, but after paying him a few thousand rupees pirated the software. He started selling it himself under a different name and raked in lakhs of rupees.

Alerted by a customer, Srihari (sriharisonti@yahoo.com) complained to the police who arrested the trickster and remanded him to judicial custody. Shaken up and wiser by experience, Srihari has now applied for a patent, but laments that patent laws were yet to be framed in the country.

"The young man is soon to join a multi-national software company to learn about leadership, team building, project management, etc.," even while looking for ways to market and improve his `Surveyor'. He has plans to start a company for the purpose. "My aim is to incorporate all civil works, including bridges, railway works, etc., on the `Surveyor' and continue to look for simple software solutions even while working on high technology software architecture," he says. Srihari's motto: "If you can dream, you can do it". He's on course.

By V. Geetanath

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