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WEEKEND


my first million

A software saga


As told to 
Priyanka Verma

It has been a bumpy year for infotech companies. But Mindfire Solutions has prospered despite the turmoil all around. Slightly over one year ago Mindfire opened shop in a small one-room office with a staff of six.

Today, there are 120 employees in a smart office and the company, which specialises in software development services, is thriving even though some of its clients are slowing down. Mindfire offers services in mainstream technologies such as Web/Internet and Windows as well as niche areas like Apple Macintosh and Omnis Studio. The brain behind the company is CEO, Chinmoy Panda who graduated from BITS Pilani and then did an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.

It was an urge to do something of my own which prompted me to start my own enterprise. I had a very comfortable job as a management consultant. But I was more interested in software and soon joined a software firm Intera and then Adobe.

However, there was no job satisfaction. I was looking for something more than money and so, without thinking too deeply about it, I plunged into the software business.

Getting a venture capitalist for funding was considered fashionable in those days but I decided against it. Instead, I invested my own hard earned savings.

I had managed to save some money and also the Adobe stocks which I sold fetched me enough capital to start my business. My total investment was Rs 3 lakh.

It was a modest beginning with a one room apartment as my office and six people including myself as the total workforce. From the very beginning I focused on fundamental strengths in software while others were more into new edge languages such as HTML, Java and so on.

We started with developing educational software for an US client and we were paid $ 40,000 for the job. It was a good start and we’ve never looked back since then.

We had two clients when we started, but within three months the number increased to six. Our turnover during the first year of operations was Rs 1 crore and we expect to notch up Rs 3 crore in this financial year.

Though we achieved our targets there were plenty of difficulties. We faced major operational difficulties such as long power cuts, getting phone connections etc. However, there were no technical problems.

Despite the software slowdown which had just started we’ve managed to get good clients such as Ecobeaker, Idyllix, Indiameter.com etc.

Around 80 per cent of the clients for whom we have executed projects are still with us. While making clients we look at a long term relationship and we have been fortunate that clients have returned to us.

The market slowdown did have its affect on us also. But its affect was more on companies that are completely web-based and went in for early IPOs. We survived because our company does not completely focus on web-based solutions.

Rather we provide services and solutions ranging from development services such as desktop development, quality testing services, maintenance services, business intelligence/OLAP solutions among others.

Due to the slowdown in the IT sector many of the software clients across the world have become wary of investing too much money in their projects.

Therefore, to make projects cost effective for client and save ourselves project hours, we have started an online monitoring system where the client can be in constant touch with the project.

Under this at any stage, if the client feels that the project requires modifications or wants to add some of his ideas, he can get in touch with us right away.

Mindfire also executed projects for a few web-based companies. But, the slump has forced some of them such as Gutenbergnet.com, iCompas.com to either shutdown or go into hibernation.

To create a niche for ourselves in the market, we have started developing our own specialised software, getting it patented and then selling it.

We are developing a technology based on an original idea for document analysis. This innovative product will help in cross linking and referencing within a set of documents. We are in talks with big companies such as Sun Microsystems, Microsoft, Adobe etc.

We intend to expand our client base to Japan, Europe and so on. We aim to cover more areas in the spectrum of software services. Apart from development we also want to get into QA testing of software.

 
 

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