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Home > Business > Special

Ashok Soota: Master of his mind

Raghuvir Badrinath | March 10, 2007

Ashok Soota is so passionate about software that he has named one of his two dogs Linux. This commitment has paid off for the man who has nurtured MindTree Consulting and seen it through a highly successful listing.

In a scenario where the stock markets are being ravaged across the world, the MindTree stock which debuted on BSE on Wednesday listed at a premium of more than 40 per cent while the other stocks which opened for listing traded below the listing price.

Soota is one among the many stalwarts who came out of the Wipro stable to start MindTree in 1999. While he has always held that he stepped out of Wipro to pursue his entrepreneurial zeal, he was no less successful at Wipro. As president of Wipro Infotech from 1984 to 1999, he spearheaded the company's growth from a $2 million business to a $500 million one.

While this is history, the way MindTree has been shaped in the past six years has amazed everybody. With blue-chip investors such as Capital International and Walden backing the start-up, MindTree crossed the $100 million mark in six years flat.

In building MindTree, Soota was fortunate to have the backing of a stellar team of top software and management professionals like Subroto Bagchi, K Krishnakumar and S Janakiraman from Wipro, who quit along with him to form the founding team.

MindTree's success is all the more remarkable because it had its share of turbulence as it got caught in the dotcom bust just a year after it was launched. The management bandwidth and refocusing from the dotcom space to the IT services and R&D outsourcing areas was critical. This kept it going and eventually helped it come out in shining colours.

Affable and calm, Soota is the classical technology man, speaking faster than most and spouting ideas faster than his words can carry.

In addition to driving MindTree's growth, he was the first president of Confederation of Indian Industry from the IT industry, during which period he contributed enormously to the growth of 'Brand India'.

He has also served on the Indian prime minister's task force for development of the IT industry and been a member of the Advisory Council of the World Intellectual Property Organisation in Geneva.

Just months before the listing, when the marketplace was thick with rumours that MindTree was a prime takeover target, Soota was assertive that he would not sell out. As one of his core team members put it: "MindTree is his swan song. We all want to leave our mark on the IT industry and there is no way we will sell out."

Indian IT experts are pointing to MindTree and asserting that if Wipro-Infosys have formed the first wave of the Indian IT attack, then MindTree is likely to be at the head of the second wave. Hence it is not surprising that Soota has set before MindTree the goal of reaching the magical $1 billion mark.

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