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Indian couple started a ₹56k business, turned it into $2 billion- let’s share their success story

Indian-American couple, identified as, Bharat Desai and Neerja Sethi sold their reputed IT services company ‘Syntel’ to French IT major Atos for a staggering $3.4 billion. The two together possess 57% stake in the company, which literally means that they’ll receive nearly $2 billion from the deal.

Hailing from Kenya, Desai grew up in Mombasa and in Ahmedabad. Post that, he successfully completed his electrical engineering from IIT-Bombay. He worked in TCS for a short stint before moving to the University of Michigan for an MBA. He stumbled upon Sethi and, in 1980, while they were still pursuing their respective degrees, the two came up with a plan to start a company.

Credits: Mantavya News

They had a great understanding between each other and hence they married later. Syntel, which had a whopping $923 million in revenue in fiscal 2017, was started with a minimum budget of $2,000. Syntel earned $30,000 in its first year, and got a huge boost in 1982 when it agreed to sign on General Motors as a client.

Syntel didn’t make the cut to reach the heights of tech giants. At an entrepreneur event in 2013 in Delhi, Desai is reported to have said, “I always wanted to run a business of my own. I was a horrible employee and could not live by anybody else’s rule. So, the best way was to start my own company. My wife is the toughest board member.”

Desai further added that he knew the IT services industry would make a steep bounce considering making the right moves, “we could outpace overall growth”. Syntel, at the beginning, was an IT staffing company, but soon carved out a reputation for itself as a firm providing IT applications services. From then, it also started its India development centres.

In 1997, it was listed on Nasdaq and in the following year, it was ranked 70th in Business Week’s ‘Hot Growth Companies’ and was No. 2 in Forbes”200 Best Small Companies in America. The company’s share price toppled over in the dotcom bust, but then it caught up the pace, fluctuating in line with industry trends. There was a quick jump in late 2016 that took Desai and Sethi off the billionaires’ ranks.

From what we can come to a conclusion is that Desai and Sethi’s is a great success story. Syntel, today has over $10 billion in revenue which is 10 times to that of the company since its inception.

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