- “There’re no alternatives to hard work, discipline and professional ethics”
- "I dream of a completely integrated concept-to-packaged-silicon flow for both digital and mixed-signal ICs"
- "The goal is not to blindly follow the herd and copy ideas"
- "We dream of creating a special company ...where 'we' is always more important than 'me'
- "And miles to go before I sleep"
- "Information technology would be a key enabler for us"
application applications based best business companies company content cost customer customers data development different does firm future good high important india indian industry information innovation internet just like make market mobile model need needs network people platform product products research says security service services social software solutions start systems team technologies technology time today used user users using work world
What sets a bookworm like Sam Santhosh apart from the usual tome raider is that he is also the founding CEO of Calsoft. Here's his story in his own words.
i was fortunate to have a very happy childhood in Trichur, Kerala's cultural capital. My father was a teacher in the town's Government Engineering College and my early childhood was spent in the idyllic setting of the college campus.
Although the atmosphere at my home was focused on academics, my parents were not very particular about school grades and exam marks, and laid more emphasis on knowledge. Our house was full of books and my father always encouraged me to refer to some book to find out the answers to any questions I might have had, instead of spoon-feeding me with the answers. I have always had a great fondness for books and reading, ever since.
Spurred on by IIM Kolkota
From kindergarten up to engineering, I studied in Trichur-- except for a brief stint of three years in Chennai, when my father was doing his PhD in IIT-Madras. In 1984, after completing my engineering in the mechanical stream, I worked for a few months at the Vehicles Research and Development Establishment at Ahmednagar and then went for my MBA to IIM Kolkota. That proved to be a turning point in my life. It gave me so much exposure and confidence. At IIM, I decided to focus on management information systems (MIS)-it was pretty obvious that computers were going to be a big thing in the coming decade.
After my MBA, I decided to come back to Kerala and started my own software consulting and training unit. I also entered into a family business-a semi-mechanised tile factory that produced roofing tiles. Even though the software unit was successful, the tile factory was an utter failure. In fact, the tile factory became a nightmare for me-the unruly trade unions (there were five unions for about 100 workers), the corrupt bureaucracy, undependable electricity and unreliable quality of raw materials, all contributed to making this experience a dismal one and the chances of success very low.
The positive side of failure
While I was working with the tile factory, I had to approach various government offices for different permits and clearances. The spread and ‘acceptability' of corruption in these offices at all levels was rather shocking. Further, the apathy of the politicians and the callousness of the trade union leaders to the plight of the workers as well as the management was a revelation. I resolved that I would never again put myself in a situation that would make me dependent on the government or politicians.
Though the tile factory experience was bitter, it was also a good lesson for me. Meanwhile, the software business was fun. Though Kerala had only a few business establishments, they were all entering the first stage of computerisation and there was a great need for simple software applications. Most of my customers became my friends-many of them are still good friends. This consulting experience boosted my confidence.
I have always been very ambitious. Though my software unit in Kerala was successful, the market was very small and in order to grow I had to look at markets outside. The failed tile factory had also placed a considerable burden of debt on the family, and I had to find ways to generate more money.
The birth of Calsoft
The US market looked very encouraging for the software business and hence I made my first trip to the US in 1991. This resulted in a software order from an oil company called Chemoil Corporation. On the successful execution of that project, Chemoil got interested in starting a joint venture for offshore software development and thus Calsoft was born in 1992.
The challenges are numerous, especially when you start a business with no money and very little practical experience. However, I was very fortunate to get Chemoil as a partner. The CEO of Chemoil, Robert (Bob) Chandran, took a liking to me and supported Calsoft whole-heartedly. He was the chairman of Calsoft from its inception, till he passed away in a helicopter accident last year. Bob was my mentor and later became a good friend. I don't think I would have made it without his help and support.
The fundamentals of success
I am very passionate about science. I believe the proper application of recent scientific breakthroughs can solve most of the pressing problems of the world today. These also present great business opportunities. But before you start a business, make sure that the fundamentals of the underlying model are sound for the long term. Keep in mind that there are no alternatives to hard work, discipline and professional ethics.
I believe that the best way to motivate people is to enable them to realise their potential. During the course of my life, I have admired the skills and success of many people, but have never felt the need to idolise anybody. Today, I am happy, but I don't think I will ever be so satisfied as to sit idle. There will always be more mountains to be climbed and more things to be learnt. Along with this I value the strength that I draw from my family-my wife Jayasree and our two children, Lakshmi and Devi, who are studying at the University of California, Berkeley.
Success to me is being able to realise your potential, create value in the ecosystem that you exist in, and be happy. And its essential ingredients are to enjoy what you do and produce more than you consume. My mantra for life is to learn something new every day.