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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

June - 2009 - issue > Cover Story

ARGUSOFT: Turnkey Software Development Services Based on a Platform Play

Aritra Bhattacharya
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Aritra Bhattacharya
Ram Gopalan and Ravi Gopalan are brothers in arms with a mission. Though they went their different ways, they were entrepreneurs at heart. In fact, the spirit must run in the family as their father also began his entrepreneurial stint (webpanditji.com), post-retirement from government service (Post retirement startup, Silicon India, January 2003). With the turn of the century they came together to work as a tag team in creating ArguSoft, with Ravi managing the overall operational aspects based in India and Ram directing the overall strategy and business development aspects from the U.S.

To understand the genesis of these true serial entrepreneurs from India, it would be worthwhile to trace their career paths. Ram graduated with an EE degree from IIT Delhi in 1982 and after finishing his post graduation in EE, he started his career at National Semiconductor in the storage semiconductor arena as an engineer. His career travels took him through companies like Adaptec and IBM, moving from engineering to the marketing and business sides of things. However it was the entrepreneurial influence of the Silicon Valley that finally prevailed upon him and in 1997 he got together with some of his co-founders to start a venture funded semiconductor company, Cognigine, which was eventually acquired by a Chinese networking company. Subsequently he started a CDP storage appliance company, Agglut, which was acquired by a leading backup storage company in the bay area. After 20 years in the Valley, Ram was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and was looking to capitalize on ‘globalizing the Indo-U.S.’ phenomenon while deciding to permanently stay in the U.S.

In the meanwhile, after finishing his MS in computer science from Florida in 1988, Ravi decided to return to India and chose to start as an entrepreneur rather than go to work in the U.S. or in India. His first venture was in the area of setting up turnkey computer education systems in high schools, which was a success in India in the 90’s. Exhibiting his versatility and entrepreneurial passion, he set up a small scale indigenous petrochemical refining plant (based on technology from IPI) to refine used motor oil and reuse it for farming equipment and other secondary application markets, a valuable proposition in the late 90’s, prior to the liberalization of the import policies by the government of India.

Genesis
With the turn of the century serial entrepreneurs Ram and Ravi decided to capitalize on their experiences and come together as a tag team, to leverage the Indo-U.S. business paradigm that was emerging. They started ArguSoft back in 2000 as a services company, engaged in providing intensive hands-on training to produce enhanced Peoplesoft professionals from India. In the early days, the company followed an onsite-offshore model, where it worked with Intelliant, an American company, to provide these resources for placement in projects in the U.S. Soon thereafter ArguSoft migrated to provide more value-add through offshore IT engineering services as that was the emerging trend at that time. “The onsite-offshore model worked well for us,” recalls Ravi. A small team of half a dozen people would be on the client’s premises, and a larger team would work from India. The critical parts of a project would be done onsite, and things like coding and testing would be done out of India to provide the cost advantages. “Business was brisk,” recalls Ravi, attributing it to the trust that clients had in ArguSoft’s expertise and delivery of quality on time. Not only were clients ramping up fast, the company itself was growing. Within a few years of its existence, it had around 100 consultants working with it. “We also added a JDE component after that,” says Ravi. “Some years ago we realized that it would be difficult to build a successful services company with limited resources and self funding”, says Ram, bearing in mind the growth of biggies like Infosys, Wipro, and TCS.

“We decided to shift focus and take on complete end-to-end turnkey projects,” says Ravi, “but then, we had no experience, and no track record.” Rather than this being an impediment, it became an asset. To solve that perception they started working on creating their own platforms as a means to acquire expertise for the ArguSoft team and demonstrate domain knowledge to potential clients, while leveraging the IP to provide a fast time to market advantage for their clients.

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