Winning encounters of the Ivega kind – Giri Devanur

TNN, Sep 26, 2001, 09.58pm IST

Bangalore: the unusually circular teak table at the conference hall sums up the Ivega philosophy. “There is no head of the table here. I believe in the democratic way of functioning. Everybody has the right to air his opinion,” says giri devanur, CEO of the four-year-old company. This attitude, coupled with a series of dramatic measures, has helped the company sustain its profitability. While, the industry quails in nervousness with companies focused on maintaining the sanctity of their balance-sheets, Ivega squats pretty on a pile of cash. So, what’s the news peg hereabouts? Tough to choose. Teksels: leading software services firm based in Switzerland, in business in Europe for over 15 years now and erstwhile partner of Infosys, is picking up “sizeable equity” in the company. The company has bagged four large clients recently. The biggest among them is a 10,000-man day, $1.5-million order from leading Swiss giant, nestle. Eighteen months down the line the company is not averse to going public. For strategic advantage Ivega is also looking at acquiring companies in the us specializing in the financial services domain. chand kaul, chairman and ceo of teksels told the times of India , “we chose to strategically invest and partner with Ivega because it is a company with proven experience and has the ability to provide end-to-end, innovative solutions to quality conscious European clients.” teksels provides services to clients like proctor & gamble and the united nations among others. The partnership aims at jointly capturing the financial services and food and health segments in Europe. Despite market turbulence, how has the company managed to remain in such fine fettle? This is due to a combination of factors. In February 2000, after growing at a steady clip of about 200 per cent, Ivega felt the need to infuse more cash to power its expansion plans. Global technology ventures, chrysalis and icici brought in a tranche of $9 million. “Instead of splurging the money indiscriminately on acquisitions as planned, i decided to tarry on the sidelines and watch the hype that was being generated all round,” says devanur. A trip to the valley, soon after the funds flowed in, was enough for the entrepreneur to spot the ephemerality behind the tech boom. In the face of enormous pressure from his VCs to spend and register higher growth rates, devanur chose to respond to gut instinct by tightening his belt. In June 2000 came another master stroke. Ivega, with strength of around 140, sold off one of its divisions employing 65 people, thereby, effectively rationalizing its manpower. “As a consequence, we have been able to keep our headcount low (200 now) with a marginal number on the benches. If i had not taken these prudent fiscal measures i would have been sitting here with a high bench and low cash reserves,” devanur points out. The company whose revenues were $9 million last year hopes to touch the $100-million target by 2005. “This will happen provided the market is alive,” says ivega’s ceo. Knowing devanur, that’s most likely to happen. In 1997, devanur came from Silicon Valley with $10,000. With five people and four pcs, he started work in a 48 sq. office on a $100,000 project for bank of America. Delivered the contract within five months. Soon the company acquired newer clients like Dresdner bank, Bristol Myers and cendant. By the second year, the company had 60 employees. Today, ivega’s swank building on Lavelle road housing 200 people occupies 25,000 sq. ft. and is the exemplar of understated elegance.


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