Early last week, Ashok Soota launched his new IT firm Happiest Minds. With five of MindTree’s top officials jumping ship, one thought it would make MindTree minds a tad unhappy. But one gets to know that Krishnakumar Natarajan, CEO & MD at MindTree, is still a happy mind with or without Soota, who recently sold a large part of his stake in MindTree for over R130 crore to Cafe Coffee Day owner VG Sidhartha, after exiting the firm in January. He now holds less than 4% stake in MindTree.
People like Salil Godika, former chief strategy officer at MindTree, Puneet Jetli, Dattatri Salagame, Aurobinada Nanda and Joseph Anantharaju, are the ones who have left MindTree and joined Happiest Minds as co-founders. The founding team also has former Wipro executives Ramakanth Desai and Prasenjit Saha and Infosys’ Raja Sekher. Its new CEO & MD is Vikram Gulati, who was holding the CEO’s position at Intelligroup, a company which was bought over by Japanese outfit NTT Data Corp last year. This looks like a happy bunch.
Happiest Minds has put together an initial capital of R200 crore, and some of the money has come from the new co-founders.
After all corporate happiness is rooted in funds. The firm has also signed a term sheet with one VC player. Looks like it’s a good start, but there will be challenges aplenty.
The company has said that it will develop solutions in security, multi-channel retailing, demand shaping and forecasting, with the focus firmly on cloud, mobility and analytics. The next two years will present the company with some hard times, as it tries to build capability. Analysts are not expecting many of MindTree’s clients to switch over to Happiest Minds in a hurry. They have to start building credibility and attain critical mass. With Soota at the helm, it may be an easier task.
Clearly, they will have to learn from some of MindTree’s mistakes. MindTree was building up quite a brand and had announced an ambition plan to become a $1 billion firm by 2014. But things started to go wrong, as it signed an agreement with Kyocera Wireless Corp (KWC) to acquire its Indian subsidiary Kyocera Wireless India (KWI). It doled out $6 million for the deal. The company thought product engineering services will be a major revenue earner, but the move backfired. MindTree realised that capital requirements in the business were far higher. It had