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Bangalore boy who launched his own firm at the young age of 14 years. Gopinath (born November 4, 1986) is the CEO and co-founder of Global Inc. -an up- coming IT company that produces Web sites and software, employs 400 people around the world and become a national icon. The Limca Book of Records – the Indian version of the Guniess Book of Records – lists him as the world’s Youngest CEO. Suhas Gopinath started a software company at the age 14 and since become one of the most remarkable success stories of the Indian IT boom.
Now he’s 22 and runs a world-class business with 400 employees. In 2005, an investing firm from Houston, Texas offered him $100 million for majority stake in Global. He refused, “after several months of discussions, admittedly”. The reason for his negative response: “Why should I sell my baby? ” The transformation During the mid-1990s, the first Internet cafes began opening up in Bangalore, with one going into operation next door to Gopinath’s house.
My brother Shreyas took me there. I was fascinated. The Internet changed my life, he says. He spent every spare minute online.
He learned himself how to build Web sites. He spent every rupee he had in the internet cafe, says his mother. Gopinath admits, I had been a good student up until then. After I discovered the internet, I was an average student. Before finding cyberspace, he had dreams of becoming a veterinarian. His first project In 1998, when he was 13, Gopinath launched his first website: www. coolhindustan. com. I wanted to provide Indians all over the world with a forum to post public events, tips for eating out and everything else they’re interested in, he recalls.
The Web site became popular – including with hackers in Pakistan. They attacked cool Hindustan and replaced the Web site’s logo with “Cool Pakistan”. That was a terrible experience, Suhas says today. He abandoned the project. By then, talent scouts in Silicon Valley had already heard of Suhas Gopinath and the company “Network Solutions” invited the young Indian to its headquarters in San Jose, California. It was the first time he had ever boarded a plane and the first time he had been Outside India’s borders. They offered me a job.
They also would have paid for my education in the United States, he says. His answer, though, was no, why should I do for another company what I could do for my own? About his company L to R: -Suhas Gopinath, former president Abdul Kalam. Gopinath wasn’t going to wait four years. He cheated: Along with three friends, he registered his company in San Jose. Online, of course, he says. He wanted to name the company “Global Solutions”, but that name was already taken. He opted for Global. Today, he still regrets that he wasn’t able to start his company in Bangalore.
India’s most important politicians know the young man. He was even granted a private conversation with President Abdul Kalam. I told him that the age limit for starting a company has to be removed, Gopinath says. Kalam promised him support, but so far nothing has changed. The law wasn’t the only obstacle, though. Potential customers cancelled their orders when they learned their business partner was barely 14. Many people didn’t take him seriously he remembers. As soon as he began sprouting facial air, he grew moustache, though he has, on the advice of friends, since shaved it off. Ultimately, Gopinath managed to overcome every obstacle. World gradually spread about his company’s abilities and Gopinath hired more and more people and opened up more offices. He became the boss, employer and chief executive – all in mid puberty. Most of his employees are just young: The average age is 21 with the oldest being a ripe old 26 and the youngest 12. Gopinath is unable to give the latter a full time job – that would amount to child labor.
But we gave him a computer with internet connection, Gopinath says, Now he works for us sometimes on Web design. 200 Customers the World Over Gopinath’s company is into web-based and software solutions, mobile and e-commerce solutions – besides making web sites for corporates, advertisers and educational institutions. Meanwhile Global has amassed 200 customers across the globe and now has offices in 11 countries with some 65 percentage of company turn over coming from Europe. The young Indians have become particularly good at identifying unfilled market niches.
They developed a software product for schools, for example, allowing a teacher to easily enter grades and attendance and enabling parents to check that their children are showing up to class – a kind of electronics class register. The Indian government was thrilled with the idea and recently contracted Global to set up the program in 1,000 schools. Now that he is 21, Gopinath is thinking of transferring the company headquarters to India – even though some 125 people now work for Global in San Jose against only 25 in Bangalore. What would be happen to the employees in the United States?
We’II see, Gopinath says. “The new developments are coming mainly from Bangalore”. Going to university on the side L to R: M. R. Gopinath-Suhas’ father, Shri. M V Rajashekaran-Minister, Suhas Gopinath, Kala Gopinath-Suhas’ mother) Gopinath’s father, M. R Gopinath, once a scientist at the Defense Ministry, now acknowledges that his son made the right choices during the last seven years. They are proud parents, but they still haven’t let him go. “To us, it’s important that he gets a degree, the father says. “Education is the most important thing in India”.
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