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Case Study: Happiest Minds
An entrepreneur named Shri Ashok Soota formed a new business venture called “Happiest Minds Technologies Private Limited”. Soota had a vision for this company to become a full service firm with a global presence. The company was launched on August 29, 2011 with the help of a team of experts form the IT industry. This entrepreneurial start-up wasn’t an easy venture at first, but Soota had a variety of experience and leadership roles from his career life.
Shri Soota was born in Pakistan and eventually moved to India during his childhood. His family moved around a lot since his father was an army doctor, so much that Soota attended twelve schools by the time he was twelve years old. Moving around throughout his life made a huge impact on him as an international entrepreneur by learning to adapt and be flexible, learning quickly, and making connections with people from different cultures. He attended Roorkee Engineering College and started out studying civil engineering but later switched to electrical engineering. Soota gained a lot of experience through his different jobs, but one of his most satisfying accomplishment was becoming CEO of DCM company. He worked for DCM for around twenty years going head-on with many challenges and enjoyed it. Soota completely turned the company around and put them on the right track making them profitable. However, after reaching success in the company Soota lost interest and wanted to move on to bigger and better things. During his time at DCM he did enroll for his MBA at the Asian Institute of Management in 1973.
The next step in Soota’s career led him into the IT sector by joining a small IT company “Wipro Infotech”. With the help of other executives, he turned the company into a global IT service company. He spent around fifteen years being president of the company and really had a lot of freedom until the chairman stepped in when the company was getting too large. Soota said “There was no negativity—just a desire for change and a desire to let them find a new path without me and for me to find a new destiny”. This change led him to co-founding MindTree an Indian IT company and took leadership for around eleven years before he resigned. He never really expressed as to why he resigned, but people guess it was because of unhappiness from his lack of freedom in the company.
Soota then went on to form the company Happiest Minds. The first office is located Bengaluru, India and was originally 55,000 square feet. The Bengaluru location is now their official headquarters for the company. His goal for this new company was to achieve one-hundred million dollars’ worth of sales within five years of operating. Within three months of the company’s startup, Soota opened up the first international office in Seattle on November 21, 2011. This market entry really showed the company’s risk taking abilities and action making the company a success. They expect this Seattle office to play a huge role in their company’s growth. As of today they have customers in the USA, UK, and India giving to the company a substantial amount of business.
Happiest Minds mission, which is basically stated in the company name, is to create the happiest people and happiest customers. This “Happiest Minds” philosophy also takes place in their organizational culture meaning the happiest employees make happy customers. Their mission is a constant reminder of why they created the company and they implement their strategy through their culture and employees. Most companies only want to satisfy their customers by meeting their needs, but Happiest Minds wants to go above and beyond that limit and actually make their customers happy. They value an open culture where employees can reach and discover their potential through their work experience. The acronym “SMILES” represents the company’s core values and what they stand for (Sharing, Mindful, Integrity, Learning, Excellence, and Social Responsibility). Happiest Minds believe that it’s the company’s responsibility to create and provide conditions to make their employees happy. They rely on the “7 C’s” which are culture, credibility, collaboration, contribution, choice, community, and communication.
Recently, founder and CEO, Ashok Soota, of Happiest Minds was named as one of the 12 IT Gems of India at INFOCOM in 2013. The award was presented due to Soota’s contributions to the IT industry- “for his vision, creativity, business acumen and technology to lead India towards its higher goal in the field of information technology” (HappiestMinds).
The Competitive IT Industry
The information technology service industry has exploded since the mid-1990s and has become a multi-billion dollar industry. Competition in the information technology industry is fierce for Happiest Minds with dozens of established and new venture companies. Total amount of revenues earned in the information technology service industry surpasses $400 billion. The biggest competitor for Happiest Minds is the world-renowned IBM Corporation, which is the top IT service company in the world. IBM is a dominant power in the industry with a 2.6 billion dollar gap between itself and the next top IT service company, Hewlett-Packard. IBM also compiled impressive total revenue of $700 billion dollars, which was 16% of total revenues earned by the top 100 IT service companies. With Happiest Minds being founded and created in India poses the firm a great deal of competitors directly in its domestic market. The number one rated information technology company in India (2012) was Tata Consulting Services (TCS). Tata Consultant Services had revenues over USD $10 billion and profits over $2.2 billion and has over 250,000 employees around the globe. An American multinational company, Cognizant, has become one of the more powerful information technology service companies in the Indian IT industry with revenues over USD $6.1 billion.
The most recent customer that Happiest Minds has acquired is Datawind , which are the producer of the Aakash Tablet PC and sell wireless web access product and services. Sunseet Singh Tull, CEO of Datamind, commented on the new strategic partnership with Happiest Mind by stating,
“Datawind has been focused on democratizing access to internet and computing with our versatile and robust, yet low cost tablet platform. The UbiSlate platform now evolves to the next level with our partnership with Happiest Minds. Happiest Minds is known for their expertise in disruptive technologies like cloud, mobility, analytics as well as embedded solutions. Through this partnership, we will be able to create a complete mobility experience by offering access to cost effective cloud applications and solutions to our customers.”
In May of 2013, Happiest Minds agreed with Kidozen, based out of Boca Raton, FL, to start a strategic alliance with each other. Kidozen is an enterprise mobile-first platform. Happiest Minds helped consult the problems and present solutions to KidoZen’s new mobile app. Happiest Minds also signed an impressive 25 companies in the first year of its operations.
When Happiest Minds announced the opening of the company, venture capital was a huge necessity to help the startup cover its costs. It only took six months for Happiest Minds to land its first source of funding when Canaan Partners and Intel Capital provided the firm USD $45 billion. The company founders, including Shri Soota, also provided the firm with a substantial amount of startup capital. Those funds were implemented into helping the company find “world-class talent”, set up infrastructure, and accelerate sales through marketing.
The strategy of Happiest Minds is ingrained in the culture of the company and is also stated in the mission statement, “Happiest People. Happiest Customers.” The company instills that the employees working for them have great attitudes in the workplace and while working with customers. “The Happiest Minds” philosophy is that happy employees make happy customers…. Though happiness is a very personal emotion, Happiest Minds believes that it is the organization’s responsibility to create enabling conditions for a person to be happy. ” (Sage Journal). This is one of the major competitive advantages for Happiest Minds, having a great attitude. Happiest Minds believes that people are one for the most integral components of the business.
Happiest Products & Services
Happiest Minds Technology’s value proposition states that they are a “Next Generation IT services company, delivering Transformational Solutions for Enterprise by Leveraging Disruptive Technologies.” Their services include: software product engineering, IT services, infrastructure management and security, along with engineering R&D services. These four focuses lead to unified communication, seamless could and mobility capabilities, accurate analytics and successful social computing.
Standing out from other IT Outsourcing providers, Happiest Minds plans to improve every aspect of the businesses that it serves. By leveraging the power of IT, the company improves market share, customer engagement, innovation and differentiation, agility and efficiency of operations, all while bringing down the costs of processes. Happiest Minds is a head above its competitors in terms of the amount of services provided. When asked what makes Happiest Minds different, founder Ashok Soota told a reporter that,
“What we are essentially selling is the experience of our team. The company may not be old, but the team we have has as much experience and expertise as any of the people in the largest of the companies. We never went and told any company that we'd like to be their 3rd or 4th partner. Companies come to us because they think we can quickly turn around things in 3 or 5 months and that's really our sweet spot.”
Along with experience, the company focuses on new and emerging technologies to differentiate, such as its cloud, social media and analytics services, and supply chain management. Happiest Minds Technologies’ target customers are businesses around the world that involve Manufacturing, Retail & CPG, BFSI, Travel & Transportation, Telecom and Media. They have offices in the US, UK and in India to reach their audience.
Happiest Minds is taking advantage of the speeding growth of technology by providing services that can encompass an entire business. Businesses commonly look for a quick 3 to 5 month turnaround which is the “Sweet spot” for the company according to Soota. Small IT companies can handle projects up to a certain size quicker for companies than larger ones due to their agility and direct communication within the company.
Soota’s company provides a new solution to business intelligence and analytics. Software on the market that is commonly used cannot gather information and data in a set time limit. According to their website, “We provide consulting, solutions, methodologies, and frameworks that help our customers in not only addressing the deluge in information growth, but also in answering questions pertaining to the information hidden in data.
To combat the rapid change in the software product realm, Happiest Minds created something that they call a Constant Access Paradigm. It is consisted of two components, continuous services and connected devices. This allows their service to be on demand 24/7 while being able to connect it to multiple devices and people. Independent Software Vendors are served by Happiest Minds in the area of Product Lifecycle Services, Lab on Hire, Mobility, Cloud, Social, and Testing.
Happiest Minds puts a lot of effort into their research and development services. Their market for this predominantly involves businesses in the Automotive, Consumer Electronics, Communications, Networking and Storage fields. According to their website this is the Happiest Minds Edge:
- Strong focus on disruptive technologies to get the best use of connected and smart devices
- Strong eco-system of alliances and partners
- Range of solution accelerators
- Lower development costs & shorter product lifecycles
- Access to solutions that focus on next-generation technologies
- Well Governed delivery processes
- Value added services like analytics, mobility approach and cloud approach
- Dedicated NOC/SOC for customers who require Managed services or technical support after product releases
Basically, this is a company that acknowledges the constantly changing nature of the technology services industry. It is well reflected in its services how well it can keep up and handle the change.
Happiest Minds’ Resources
Happiest Minds has benefitted greatly from the success of Shri Ashok Soota’s previous experiences as an international entrepreneur. Experience is an entrepreneur’s best friend when trying to venture into unknown markets to take advantage of an opportunity. There are so many hurdles that can get in the way of a good idea coming to fruition and becoming successful. If the entrepreneur has experienced these roadblocks and found ways to get around them, they have an exponentially better chance of creating a business that can survive. This is Happiest Mind’s most valuable resource. This invaluable resource has shown to make the company a success in its early years so far. Because Soota’s early life was spent in many different places, experiencing different situations, he grew up with the ability to adapt to changing situations. This early life experience allowed him to adapt quickly to changing environments and create solutions when things got tough.
Co-founding MindTree gave Soota insight on ways to get an IT company off the ground. The immense success of MindTree gave a blueprint for Soota when he decided to leave the company and create Happiest Minds. Because of his previous success, Soota was able to get the $45 million in venture capital to begin his new company. Having working capital at the beginning of a budding company is incredibly important because it gave them the ability to get the right equipment and still have money for the right employees and a good marketing plan. This feat is not easy for many companies so Happiest Minds really seemed to have lucked out from having Soota at the helm. He was a trusted individual in the industry and proved to many investors that he had the ability to make them money.
The company also had the great resource of Soota’s wealth. Most entrepreneurs start their companies while going through tough financial situations. Happiest Minds not only got funding from outside investors, they benefitted from internal funding from the man who started it all. Soota made millions while working with MindTree and was able to self-fund a good portion of the initial operations with Happiest Minds. This experience from MindTree also helped Happiest Minds find its first customers. The relationships Soota built in his previous work experience in the IT field gave Happiest Minds a solid customer base. These customers knew they could trust Soota to provide a quality service so they were willing to give him their business. Most new ventures struggle with finding a customer base because they have no reputation to build off of. Having an established reputation in the industry gave Happiest Minds a leg up on any competition from other similar new ventures.
Despite all these things working in Soota’s favor, there were certainly roadblocks that got in the way of the success that Happiest Minds is experiencing. Many of Soota’s peers were not very supportive of his business model when they discovered his idea to quit MindTree and start Happiest Minds. They felt like his business model was a successful one ten years ago, but the IT industry had changed so much that this business model couldn’t succeed in the industry today. They didn’t believe he could have success again after MindTree. Soota took criticism initially for creating another service company.
His peers believed he should have tried to create a new, innovative product instead. It would be difficult for him to differentiate his service company from the thousands of other similar businesses in the world. However, Soota shrugged off this criticism because he knew, deep down, that he had an idea that would surely work well. Happiest Minds decided that the way they could find this differentiation was by focusing on emerging technologies such as cloud computing and social media. However, there were already companies working on these technologies that had a good two-year advantage on Happiest Minds.
Other complications faced Happiest Minds in its early years. They had to recruit and find at least 2,000 skilled workers in an industry where most people were comfortable at the jobs they were already at. Soota would have to find a way to make his company more appealing so people would want to jump on board. If Happiest Minds wanted to achieve their goal of $100 million in income by year 6, finding skilled workers was an absolute necessity. To find these people and convince them to join a smaller brand like Happiest Minds, they were certain to experience some wage inflation as offering higher pay would be one of the only ways to get these skilled workers to join. Luckily, Soota’s experience gave people a reason to get on board with Happiest Minds.
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