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July 25, 2004

New York Times profiles Indian returnees

The New York Times has published an interesting article featuring several professionals of Indian origin who quit successful careers abroad and returned to India. As the article indicates, several of the returnees are venturing beyond their lives in "gated colonies" and making a positive change to their wider social environment.

Here's one from the many examples in the article:

A radiologist, Dr. Kalyanpur had resigned himself to a significant pay drop upon his return. Then he proved to Yale that he could accurately read CT scans and other images transmitted via broadband to India. He began working for them from afar before starting his own business, Teleradiology Solutions Inc., in 2002.

He spends his days reading images for the emergency room nightshifts of about 40 American hospitals, compensating for the shortfall of nighttime radiologists in the United States, and being compensated at near-American salary levels. His partner, like him, is American-trained; at least two more Indian-born radiologists are moving back from the United States to work with them.

"India always suffered from the cream of its medical community migrating overseas," he said. "Now there is the possibility to go back."

India changed in the time Dr. Kalyanpur, 39, was away. Where it once took a year to get a phone connection, it may now take a day.

But he changed as well. He and his wife gravitated to Bangalore, where neither of them had ever lived, in part for the cosmopolitanism in its pubs and cultural life. Regent Place drew them because many European expatriates also live there.

"It makes the transition easier," he said.

On his return, India's poverty loomed up at him, and he and his wife grapple with how to deal with it. They raised money to put a playground in the government school in the village across from their housing complex, and are doing the same for another school nearby.

It is a small attempt to bridge India's great and growing gulf. On a Saturday, children with want visible in thin faces, in bare feet and tattered uniforms, scaled the swing set bought by the returnees, whose own children played across the street inside Regent Place.


Click Here to read the full article.

July 16, 2004

How Symphony bags offshore development orders from software product vendors

While doing development out of India has become a "no brainer" for all enterprise software product companies, the most "obvious" way to go about exploiting the India advantage has been to set up a captive development center. Like Microsoft, Oracle, Novell, Adobe, etc have done.

So, how does Symphony manage to convince software companies like Siebel Systems (the world's leading provider of CRM software), Autodesk (the leading CAD software vendor) and other clients to outsource development work to it? (As Economic Times reported recently, Symphony has been providing software testing and development services to Siebel for over a year now.)

What is Symphony's secret formula? Businessworld attempts to provide the answer.

"To address the issue of trust, Symphony works on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) model. The understanding is that at any time the client can acquire the operations - including the team working on the project - from the service provider by paying a transfer fee" the article says.

Now we know.

The BW article also provides interesting examples of Symphony's work in its
two other lines of business - Cost Management and Analytics services.
Symphony's cost management group, which looks at cost-cutting
opportunities for large enterprises, has a 40-person team that works
with companies like Schering-Plough and Viacom to control their telecom
costs - a typically large variable expense head for US companies. The
BW article explains that Symphony made two acquisitions last year -
Telco Research (from Peregrine Systems) and Teletron - to ramp up its
expertise in managing telecom costs.

As part of its analytics
group, which employs 300 people, Symphony analyses data "say, of sales
vouchers of a large retailer, understands buying patterns, and suggests
ways to boost revenues". This group - which is expected to have 500
people by year-end - is expected to account for a third of Symphony's
revenues by 2007.

July 11, 2004

Promod Haque plays traveling salesman for portfolio cos.

At a time when pretty much all VCs in Silicon Valley are pushing their portfolio companies to open R&D centers in India, Promod Haque, Managing Partner at Norwest Venture Partners (NVP), is adopting a different tack. He is encouraging his portfolio companies to view India as not just a low-cost development base, but also as a key market for their wares.

With the Indian telecom services market already the fifth largest in the world and Indian IT services and BPO vendors making a serious mark on the global outsourcing market, Haque wants his portfolio companies to get an early entry into on what promises to be a long-term growth market for technology products. Haque calculates that India's call-center industry alone would be spending $12 billion on telecom equipment over the next four years.

Haque is leveraging the PR value of his recent anointment - by Forbes magazine - as the world's top VC to help his portfolio firm kick-start their sales to Indian companies. After making a scouting trip to India in April, Haque returned in the last week of June with representatives from seven of his portfolio companies in tow, to host seminars - and give an untiring series of interviews to the media - in key Indian cities.

July 09, 2004

Red Herring profiles MIT biz plan winner Kailas Narendran

Red Herring magazine has published an offbeat interview with Kailas Narendran, a 25-year-old researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Department of Mechanical Engineering, who co-created a device that provides mobility for patients with spinal cord injuries. Narendran and his co-inventor recently won a $30,000 prize for their business plan to commercialize the technology at MIT's Entrepreneurship Competition.

The RH article points out that former MIT contest finalists - including Akamai, Centrata, and Firefly - are now valued at over $4 billion.

Click Here to read the full profile.