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Home > Business > Special

From Silicon Valley to India with new ventures

Vijay C Roy in New Delhi | September 24, 2007

Puneet Vatsayan and his wife Anupama Arya worked in the Silicon Valley for 14 years before deciding, in 2003, to shift to Chandigarh and turn entrepreneurs. They started Mobera Systems, like the proverbial garage start-up, on a working capital of Rs 1 lakh.

Last year, Mobera, which provides innovative and high-end software solutions in the areas of security, networking, wireless gaming, embedded technology and medical communications to clients in the US, France, UK, Germany, and so on, recorded a turnover of $100.30 million.

Recently, the company won an STPI (Software Technology Parks of India) award for outstanding performance during 2006-07 for software development in the small and medium enterprises category.

Vatsayan and Arya are among the 25 or so expats, mostly of Punjabi origin, who've come back to Chandigarh, bringing with them a variety of expertises gleaned abroad, either to start their own companies or to join large companies which have offices in the city.

IT and retail, two sectors where there's been a lot of activity in the northern region and especially Chandigarh, are where you'll mostly find this breed. A cosmopolitan culture and a greater degree of professionalism are some of the reasons for the expats' decision to work in the region.

Take Rajan Vasudevan, an IIT Delhi-alumnus, who founded Safaltek Software (P) Ltd, a customer-centric software company. Says Vasudevan, "I have worked and studied in the US and returned for professional reasons. I was inspired by the technology entrepreneurship in the Silicon Valley and was keen to replicate it in India. Ever since I returned, I have only worked with start-ups that create wealth and employment. Safaltek is my fourth company and it's successful so far with a growing customer base, and quality and technology accreditions. We provide services to customers in the US, UK and India. I am a south Indian, but have studied and lived primarily in north India, except when I lived abroad. I love north Indian culture and blend it with both my south India ethics and international professionalism."

Partap K Aggarwal, managing director of IDS Infotech Ltd, has spent about eight years in software development and consultancy in the US.

"Initially I came because I wanted to live with my parents, but later on I realised there were immense professional opportunities here, so I started my own venture in 1989, in partnership with an industrial house, at an investment of Rs 10 lakh."

Aggarwal's company is now a Rs 35 crore (Rs 350 million) software export house. He says, "My knowledge of American practices did wonders for the company."

HR experts say Indian expatriates are in high demand in the IT, retail and manufacturing sectors, with salary levels comparably higher than natives.

Corporates, they add, are looking for people who have experience in their spheres of operation, especially in areas and projects which until recently did not exist in India and hence lack skilled professionals. The international expertise and ways of functioning they bring in are also valuable.

For example, American IT giant Outline systems recently appointed Pavitr Juneja as business development and sales head at its Chandigarh office. Juneja has over 10 years experience in the US and international exposure working with leading IT multinationals like Bearing Point (KPMG), IBM and Accenture.

His brief in Outline Systems: strengthen its operations in India, specifically to develop exceptional technical and business relationships with customers, and to lay out marketing and sales strategies that are at par with the US market.

Says Samrat Sidhu, who worked for Fedex and Ernst & Young in the US and is now employed with Reliance [Get Quote] Retail (one of five-six other expats working with the company in Chandigarh), "There are plenty of opportunities in India. Moreover, the growth is good. Even the pay and packages have improved considerably in the past few years."

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