Sanjay Govil is the founder and Chairman of Infinite Computer Solutions which provides technology-based business process solutions, next-gen mobility solutions, and product engineering services. On its initial public offering, the company raised $1.8 billion. The company has over 7,000 employees and generates more than $700 million in annual revenue. Sanjay also founded Zyter(R) which is a cPaaS based platform that leverages the power of the connected enterprise.
In this episode you will learn:
- Finding an opportunity where others find a problem
- How to have teams that work well together
- Going from corporate to entrepreneur
- The IPO process in India
- Sanjay’s work with young entrepreneurs at Wharton
- What this founder does instead of yoga or meditation
- The similarities between sports and business
For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash. Moreover, I also provided a commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400 million (see it here).
Remember to unlock for free the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
ACCESS THE PITCH DECK TEMPLATE
About Sanjay Govil:
Sanjay Govil is a visionary leader and serial entrepreneur, having founded multiple successful businesses across the globe. He embraces change and is a firm believer in working with teams to discover and implement innovative ways to solve business challenges. Govil’s transformative strategy is based on the four T’s- tenacity, technical skills, trustworthiness and team building that has been a hallmark of Infinite culture.
Currently, Govil is the founder and chairman of both Infinite, a technology company and leading provider of digital transformation solutions, and founder & CEO of Zyter which creates the ultimate user experience leveraging the power of the connected enterprise. The tool uses artificial intelligence and enterprise technology to enhance business productivity, security and engagement. Both the companies are headquartered in Rockville, Maryland. Govil is also an investor in Applecart, a data firm that raised $6 million from investors in 2018.
In 2001, Govil founded Infinite – a technology company – using $1,000 of his own money and no venture capital funding. Infinite was one of the most successful IPOs of the year with over $1.8 billion in desired investment. Under his strategic leadership, Infinite has grown into a leading provider of digital transformation solutions for Government Organizations and Fortune 500 companies. Infinite’s enterprise business processes over one trillion mobile messages annually serving over 149 million mobile subscribers around the world.
With more than 7,400 employees globally, including more than 3,500 in the U.S., Infinite is currently experiencing 22% year-over-year growth.
Under Govil’s strategic, forward-thinking leadership, both Infinite and Zyter have experienced significant growth over the last year. Over the last year, Zyter’s capabilities have expanded to support blockchain technology, multiple deployment through real-time location services, augmented and virtual reality.
Govil continues to receive global recognition for his business acumen, achievements and leadership. Recently, Information Services Group (ISG) recognized Infinite as a market rising star in its 2019 Provider Lens Quadrant report for Digital Transformation Platform (aaS).
Alongside his business successes, Govil remains committed to philanthropic activities and raising awareness around entrepreneurship through his charity, The Sanjay Govil Foundation, as well as TiE DC’s Young Entrepreneurs Program. He is heavily involved with the Wharton School of Business where he became a fellow and currently is a member of the Graduate Executive Board. He also serves as a member for the Global CEO Advisory Council and serves on the board of directors for the U.S.-India Business Council.
An avid sports fan, Govil owned the Delhi Acers (part of Premier Badminton League) from 2015 to 2017. He formed a team called the Infinite Eagles, a part of a recreational cricket league in Washington, D.C. He is also the proprietor of Board of Control for Cricket in the USA since 2016. He believes that sports is a great unifier & equalizer and working on a team together to accomplish the same goals transcends race, religion, experience and gender.
Govil earned his Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from Auburn University. He completed a Master of Science in computer science at Syracuse University and Advanced Management Program from Wharton School of Business.
Connect with Sanjay Govil:
* * *
FULL TRANSCRIPTION OF THE INTERVIEW:
Alejandro: Welcome to the DealMakers show. Today, we have a founder that definitely has the international background experience. He knows a thing or two about building, financing, and scaling companies, and also taking companies public, taking companies private. You name it. Without further ado, I’d like to welcome our guest today, Sanjay Govil, welcome to the show today.
Sanjay Govil: Thank you for having me. It’s a great privilege being here.
Alejandro: So, originally born in Montreal, and then you were raised in India. Talk to us about the experience of being born there and then moving back to India in 1980.
Sanjay Govil: Yes, absolutely. I was born in Montreal, Canada, because my dad was doing his doctorate. At that time in 1970, the whole movement was going on in India of starting IATs, which is one of the premier institutions in the world. So, my dad decided to go back to work at IAT as a professor. We moved back to India, and I grew up in India. It was a great experience for me because I had the background of the best in the world as well as I grew up on the IAT campus, which is a very sheltered kind of environment. The amazing part was that a lot of the kids there actually were born in the Western hemisphere because a lot of their dads did their PhDs from different universities in the U.S., Canada, and England. It was a great learning experience; a great growing experience. Then in 1984, in high school, I moved back to the United States because my father got a teaching job in Auburn University in Alabama.
Alejandro: Was it like a bit shocking when you got here to the U.S.?
Sanjay Govil: Yes. I would definitely say that because I do remember turning on the TV when we landed. The local channels were going on, and I was very, very apprehensive in terms of what language am I listening to because of the accent. But then people are very nice in the South. It was definitely a big cultural change for me, but people are very embracing to myself, and I was able to adapt very quickly which is one of the things which is very gratifying, being able to adapt in different cultures, different people at the university.
Alejandro: Got it. At what point, Sanjay, do you start to develop the love for problem-solving in engineering?
Sanjay Govil: Growing up, I was always very analytical, and I always believed in taking big problems. To solve a big problem, you’ve got to break it up into smaller problems and solve smaller problems, which solve the big problems. I always had that mindset in everything I did. So, going into engineering was a very logical thing for me to do. I was doing sciences and mathematics throughout my high school: physics, chemistry, all those good subjects. I had the great privilege of joining Auburn University as an undergraduate, and I was able to graduate in three years from Auburn because of an extremely good background I had in India. Then I had the great fortune of joining IBM when the economy was really, really bad. It’s a very interesting story how I got my job at IBM, which is also if you look at it from an entrepreneurial perspective. I remember I was out of town, and when I came back, I heard, “IBM is in town.” So, I went to the office where students were being interviewed, and I talked to the IBM person who was interviewing for IBM, and I said, “I would love to join IBM.” He said, “All the interview slots are full.” I said, “But sir, it’s been a dream of mine to work for IBM.” He said, “Okay. Bring your resume.” I was graduating in the summer, and this was in the spring, so I went to my car. At that time, we used to do everything on typewriters. This is the late ’80s. So, I got my resume, we sat down, and he marked it up. I never thought that I would get anything from IBM. Low and behold, I was the only one that got selected for IBM for a job.
Sanjay Govil: IBM also had a co-op program which I got selected to, but then I was a foreign student, so I couldn’t work at IBM. A former alumnus of Auburn who was a few years ahead of me who actually went to IBM was Tim Cook, who is now CEO of Apple. That’s something very interesting. So, Auburn actually helped me a lot in terms of how I grew up and how I was able to adapt to the American culture and made it a great learning experience, great people. Everything was really, really good there.
Alejandro: Very cool. While you were working at IBM, you also decided what I would say as the suicidal decision to also complicate your life with a Master’s degree. So, at what point were you sleeping? Did you have time to sleep?
Sanjay Govil: Yeah. I had a very good background, and like you mentioned earlier, very analytical and so, I wanted to do my Masters because I just wanted to continue my education. I was working a lot at IBM. In fact, I was traveling a lot also because I was working on a project at IBM, which was being developed simultaneously between IBM Germany and IBM U.S. I was traveling a lot between the two countries, and I was doing my Masters because we had an offsite campus of Syracuse University in Endicott where I still live, which is upstate New York. There was plenty of flexibility there in terms of classes. So, I was able to squeeze all that in and graduate.
Alejandro: Why did you decide to move to Washington, D.C.?
Sanjay Govil: Washington, D.C. was a move because I grew up in Delhi, which is a big city. My wife grew up in Mumbai, which is also a big city. We always wanted to be part of a multi-cultural, multi-opportunities, etc. So, it was a very logical move for us to move from Endicott to Washington, D.C., which in hindsight was a great decision because being the nation’s capital, you have access to so many different things in terms of what we like, and also opportunities in terms of doing business, which at that time, obviously, I did not know that I’d be doing that. But that’s what happened when I started Infinite in 2001.
Alejandro: Right after this, and going to D.C. before doing your entrepreneurial journey, you did a little bit of corporate America. You were mentioning IBM, and then also Verizon, and it’s what it came to be, Verizon because it had a different name back then. I’m wondering now like during this experience working at both companies, what did you learn from corporate America from each of these experiences?
Sanjay Govil: Sure. You’re exactly correct. At that time, Verizon was called Bell Atlantic. Then Bell Atlantic merged with GTE, and it was then called Verizon. What I really learned from IBM and working at Verizon was a) the importance of doing business with integrity, tenacity. At IBM, I learned a lot about product development. At Verizon, I learned a lot about how products can support the consumer. So end-to-end, I was able to get a complete background. How do you service a consumer or a customer using technology, and how does that technology develop and integrate in all that stuff? So, it was a very good marriage between what I learned at IBM and what I learned at Verizon. At IBM, one of the best experiences I had was when you join IBM. At that time, they put you through school for a few weeks. You actually learn a lot in terms of basic beliefs and how integral it is for you to maintain your integrity. You have your basic beliefs, but at the same time, you should be able to be very adaptable to the changing dynamics to the marketplace. I think those things which are there, which really propelled me to learn as I started Infinite in 2001.
Alejandro: So, let’s talk about Infinite then. You decide to say bye to corporate America. Walk us through how you incubated the idea. Then, also, what happened before you actually launched to that day when you gave your notice, and you told yourself, “This is the time to do this.” Walk us through that process.
Sanjay Govil: I always knew that, and we all know that America’s the greatest country in the world. Very open. Very conducive to business, and if you work hard, anybody can succeed in this country. There is no better country for that than the United States. I knew that I had to be in business, and I knew that it had to be a technology business because I always believed in the fact that you have to have a business that you understand. I also believed that I needed to do a business which not everybody else is doing in D.C. because then there’s nothing which is my blue ocean. Most of the people here were going the standard route of federal contracting and getting different statuses for minorities and so on and so forth. That’s something which I never wanted to do, and I said there’s nothing unique about what I would have provided as to compared to other people. So, if you look at Infinite when we started out, we started out as a technology company. We started as a company which was not focused on the federal government, which was not focused on state government, which is very contrary to what companies in D.C. do. I wanted to have it focus on the commercial side. My goal was to focus on a few customers, get my credibility, show that I can deliver on big systems, high volume transactions, and go from there. That was my goal, like focus on a few clients and build my team. In 2001 when I started, I started with $1,000 because that’s all I had. I didn’t have any external money, external sources of money. Since I was working at IBM and Verizon, you can imagine what kind of savings I had, especially having two children and we had recently bought a house, etc. But I said that “If I don’t do it now, I will never do it.” So, I literally quit my job.
Alejandro: That takes a lot, Sanjay because having two children – you’re saying this lightly, but having two children and quitting your stable-paying job. What was that night when you arrived back home, and you were in your bed looking at the ceiling?
Sanjay Govil: I was driving on BW Parkway when I was like, “What have I done? There’s no turning back.”
Sanjay Govil (cont.): That was my thing, and then, obviously, 9/11 also happened the same year. So, everything was topsy-dory. But I always believed in fate. I believe that if you have the right intentions, things happen. If I look at my entrepreneurial journey – you can call it luck. You can call it fate. You can call it whatever, but I think in life you come across forcing functions which enable you to evolve to the next level every time. That’s what I’ve seen in my journey of entrepreneurship is that at every point in my life, then I need to evolve, I need to change direction, some forcing function comes in which enables me to do something, which takes me then to the next level.
Alejandro: I believe that luck is definitely a big component, but luck at the end of the day is preparation meets opportunity.
Sanjay Govil: Absolutely, sir. Absolutely correct. I think another thing, which is very critical – I know you have been a big entrepreneur, and you have had a very incredible and varied background. I think the biggest mistake in my opinion entrepreneurs make when they get too narrowly focused inside, then that’s where the growth slows down or doesn’t happen. I think it’s very critical that as we grow the business, a product business, or technology business or what have you, bring it from incubation stage to – it’s an environment-choice state, and then bring the right management team to take over that particular business and grow it. Then you move on to the next building block in your business. I think that’s something which I didn’t find very early in the game. So, instead of getting focused on a few clients, and just doing that, my whole focus was “Keep getting your accounts. Keep growing the business. Keep growing on offerings. Keep growing our team, and have these people who I’m hiring go and take care of what I have because you can never forget your base. If you lose your base, then the whole business collapses. It’s for any business. They always maintain their base. Look at Google or Facebook or Uber. They always maintain their base, and on top of that, they keep starting new offerings, which is what Infinite has done over the years.
Alejandro: What ended up being the business model?
Sanjay Govil: The business model was technology, provide technology services, and then focusing on a few verticals. We focused on the financial industry. We focused on the health care. We focus on the whole telecom, digital transformation. How do you bring experience? So, from a vertical perspective in industries, we focused on, and then we had horizontal offerings, which [15:42] your time. We have actually gone through the journey from client-server to enhanced [15:48] to mobility and security and Cloud transformation and all that stuff. So, within the last 17 or 18 years, the company has been in existence, we have grown not just from a technology perspective, but also from a business model perspective because the clients are now more and more looking for – they want you to be a partner in their risk. Those days are gone where [16:16] developed over four years and spend hundreds of millions of dollars. Now, everything’s about Blockchain and how to go faster through the marketplace and quick, rapid typing, and Agile Development, and so on. So, the whole model has changed now.
Alejandro: Got it. Going back to the early days, what were some of the early hires that you were making? What were the founding team members, and what were some of the critical hires that you made?
Sanjay Govil: The amazing part of the following, till I was about 15 to 20 million dollar company, I was the only person doing accounting, HR, legal, you name it. I was a fulltime consultant, and I was doing selling because one thing which I did not want to do – there are a lot of studies on dot-coms and why they have failed and so on, but because the business model was all about trying to live an image rather than have an image which you can sustain. So, what was happening was, all these companies were hiring a lot of executives and taking the best offices, and having all these business plans, and then what happened was that when the market collapsed, they couldn’t sustain that lifestyle. They couldn’t sustain that image, and a lot of these companies failed. However, businesses like Amazon, Priceline, and all these companies that did survive the whole dot-com era, I think they were embedded in a business model which they could sustain. If you look at all these companies, they’re operating out of Seattle or what have you, and they had low overheads. They were focused on the business and the business-supporting image which they could sustain versus an image which they have to sustain and try to get business to sustain that image. So, it’s a flip model. But I think that’s very important that you have a business which you can sustain. So, from my perspective, since I was a new company and I was competing with the dot-coms at that time. It was a very hard process for me, and I didn’t have external funding, so It didn’t have the credibility. It was an extremely hard way of going about it. But I think I always believed in the fact that teamwork is most important. I always give this example of the New York Giants. If you remember, the New York Giants used to have a running back called Barber and Shockley in the NFL. Then both these players were gone. I remember watching the very next year they hardly had any running back. If you remember, that year they won the Super Bowl. I always give that example because the point I’m trying to make is that you don’t need superstars to win a championship. You need a team to win the championship. I was able to hire people who were probably not the best people, but they had the passion, and they were undiscovered champs. I was able to mold them to entrepreneurship journey for Infinite, and they became the messaging people across the organization. That’s how the culture spreads: from the founder to all the way down. The way the culture spreads is not by the founder having everyday calls with these people and saying, “This is the culture.” The culture comes in because how it’s actually executed. The execution happens when you have your teachers, the people who you teach through the working. Then they take that culture and they propagate it all the way down. That’s what Infinite does. Infinite is a very entrepreneurial-driven company. People work extremely hard. They’re success-driven. They’re driven for customer satisfaction. We celebrate our losses, and we celebrate our wins. Every loss, big or small, we take it very personally. We do an analysis as to why we failed so that we do it better the next time.
Alejandro: That’s very profound, Sanjay. By the way, I think that people get too stuck on how qualified an individual is, but going back to what you were saying, I think it’s all a matter of how those individuals are able to work together. That’s what made the company work.
Sanjay Govil: Exactly. You’re absolutely right. The other thing is, in a company like Infinite when you’re starting out is that a) we couldn’t get them, b) we couldn’t afford them, but c) we didn’t want any prim Madonna’s because then that creates hierarchy within an organization.
Sanjay Govil: In a startup culture, there is no hierarchy. Everybody’s trying to do the best they can. Yes, you need teamwork. Yes, you need integration. Yes, you need to have some distinction between what profit sharing is doing to what system engineering’s doing to what software development is doing to whatever. But at the same time, there’s also a lot overlap because people are trying to do multiple functions.
Alejandro: For sure. Sanjay, during those early days, what were some of the biggest challenges?
Sanjay Govil: The biggest challenge we had was to go to clients. I was always focused on getting big clients because like I mentioned before, my whole goal was to execute projects which were state of the art, high transactional, high volume, which I can go and sell to other companies. So, the biggest challenge and the biggest issues we had were a) being a technology business, getting the right talent, b) establishing credibility. Like, we were competing with the bigger companies. So, the bigger companies, when they went for a presentation, they only have to talk one minute about who they are. There’s never an issue that they can deliver or not deliver. When you’re starting out, you have to spend 55 minutes out of 60 minutes trying to explain that, “Yes, you can do the project. Yes, you can execute. Yes, you can deliver.” People really have to take a chance on you versus the other companies because the other companies, they fail, it’s acceptable because it’s a one-off thing. But if somebody takes a chance on me, and Infinite, and we’re a new company, the person who’s taking a chance on us can always be questioned as to why they chose Infinite. I think that was one of the biggest challenges we had. But we had a very dedicated team, and we built a credibility from the bottoms up. That’s how we were able to grow. We were able to grow from literally $65,000, $70,000 in revenue in 2001 to now over 700 million dollars of revenue this year, and we’re probably going to cross a billion dollars in a couple of years.
Alejandro: I’m getting dizzy from all the zeros, Sanjay.
Sanjay Govil: You’re very modest. I know who you are. And we were able to grow to over 7,400 employees. But at the same time, we were very focused. People always ask me, “How come you’re not in Europe?” and “How come you’re not here or there?” I would say one thing: people spend 70% of their time on 30% of the work, and 30% of the work on 30% of their time. The thing is, people who are able to create that balance of equilibrium between the amount of work and the more time they spend are the successful companies. To me, that’s always been very critical. I’ve always been very focused on the geographies I want to focus on. I’ve been very focused on the customers I want to focus on. Believe it or not, there are businesses we’ve turned down because we don’t see long-term growth or it’s not strategic enough for us. I think keeping that focus on the team is also very important. And there are all sorts of issues with clients. You might have a bad receivable. You may have companies who have gone bankrupt. You have companies who are never happy with what you do, and losing battles can take up a lot of your time. So, we’ve been very focused on how we spend our time in growing our businesses.
Alejandro: And to that point, when it comes to making strategic decisions, Sanjay, and also, you have the background of being an engineer, so how do you typically go about making a strategic decision?
Sanjay Govil: Gut. It’s a lot of gut feeling because they always stay. The decision that you’ve come up with comes up in the first couple of minutes. Then people do a lot of analysis on their decisions, but because of the agility of our company, the flexibility of our company, yes, we have all the processes and controls. We obviously have [25:55] 535. We have all the certifications. We have all those things; however, a lot of it is just gut feeling. For example, in 2010, we came up with a strategic alliance – and this is all online by the way – with Motorola. We took over the messaging business. It was a gut feeling that messaging and mobility, etc. will be the future. It turned out to be an extremely great move. Today, we service over 149 million customers using our messaging platform. This year, we probably transacted over a trillion messages. Then we have used that background which we had in the mobility field to get a big step ahead of our competitors. Zyter is a separate company which we can talk about. The genesis of that was the knowledge we had there also.
Alejandro: We’ll talk about Zyter in just a bit. To continue here talking about the journey with basically Infinite Computer Solutions, there is something that I found very interesting. That is that even though you had studied in the U.S., and you started to develop the concept here, you made the move, you continued to grow and scale the business, you go public, not in the U.S. but in India. Why is that?
Sanjay Govil: When we decided to go public in India, the technology business, the services business was still relatively a novice or a foreign concept in the U.S. marketplace. However, in India, the value and the evaluations for services companies was extremely high. I think the evaluation was the driving factor behind why I went public in India. However, in hindsight, was it the best decision? I still debate that, but living in the U.S., and as more and more countries are becoming more and more from a taxation perspective, more and more – look at the latest tax cuts which we had. The income-tax cut, even though the corporate tax rates have gone down significantly, there’s still this whole thing of transition tax, GILTI tax, and all the stuff which have come into play. What’s happening is, every country is trying to maximize their tax base. So, living in the U.S., and most of my revenue is in the U.S., being a U.S. citizen, it becomes very complicated in terms of having a company in the U.S. and being public in India, and so forth. At that time, that was the driving factor was the evaluations and the visibility and things of that sort, which I could not have caught in the American markets. However, now, there’s a lot of appreciation for technology, and there’s a lot more appreciation for the kind of businesses we do, and the evaluations have really caught up and have even gone higher than what they are in many international markets.
Alejandro: I hear you. What was the process like of taking the company public? Was it like here in the U.S. where they take you on the latest golf stream to travel around or how was that?
Sanjay Govil: No, it’s quite different than the U.S. where it’s more like they do bidding. When you file your prospectus, you give the range of your ideal price. It’s not a discovery process like it is in the U.S. We went public right after the whole 2008, 2009 financial crisis, so we were one of the first IPOs which went public. There’s a public subscription, people who subscribe to it, and then there are the institution subscribers. So, we had a very successful IPO, and this is all online. We were over-subscribed to the point of 1.8 billion dollars, and we were only looking for like $15 million dollars if my memory sounds right. It was a gangbuster IPO. If I look at how we performed after the IPO. We did extremely well. So, I took the company private in December of 2018. We were listed for eight years. We gave a significant amount of dividends back to shareholders. The stock price pretty much tripled from where we were. So, it was a very rewarding experience for our shareholders and those who stuck by us. I always believe that, for me, my credibility is very important. As I focus on Zyter’s future and also for Infinite, having this history of what I’ve done of rewarding my investors from a dividend perspective to the buy-backs we’ve done to the ability for everybody to exit is something which is going to be with me and on my background, which gives me more credibility in the future.
Alejandro: Why did you take the company private, again, Sanjay?
Sanjay Govil: I took the company private because living in the U.S., it’s a hard thing being public in India. The rules are changing more and more where every country is trying to maximize their tax base. For example, in India, when you pay a dividend, the dividend tax is paid by the company. In America, the dividend tax is paid by the individual recipient. A simple example: if I were to pay a dividend to myself in India, the company pays a dividend, and then I have to pay a dividend tax here. So, it’s a very expensive to pay as compared to just if I’m a U.S. company then I’m paying dividend from the company, and I just pay them a little tax. That is one example in terms of liquidity, etc. Also, I really wanted to not focus on quarter-by-quarter growth because I’m still relatively young, and I really wanted to give a good exit to my shareholders and be able to grow the company by investing a lot of money into the business and grow the business. That was my goal.
Alejandro: We’ve seen a few of these cases like Dell, Michael Dell taking his own company private again. What is typically the process of doing a transaction of this nature because they’re not that usual?
Sanjay Govil: Sure. Again, the process in India is very different than what it is in the U.S., and those are all nuances which I had to really learn. But in India, what happens is – again, it’s a reverse-bidding process where people start bidding on the stock, and you have to get to 90% total. It’s a very scary process in terms of when people start bidding. Historically, by the time you announce, every day the stock was going up. If you look at the history of the stock from February, March of 2018 to December, the stock pretty much doubled. What happens is a lot of speculators come in. People just jump in who want to ride on the share price going up. But when the book opens up, it’s really a reverse-bidding process where people start bidding on the shares, the shares trading at 350. Somebody might put a 360 number. By 370, somebody might put 380. Whatever the highest price is at 90%, that’s the price that everybody gets below that. But it’s a very scary process because when you raise the money to go private, you have to raise it on a personal basis, which I did. But that money might not be enough because the share prices might just go very, very high, and in that case, the whole delisting process fails. It’s very interesting, and I learned a lot. We were able to do it very successfully. We had great people supporting us. But the other key thing which is very important in an entrepreneurial journey is not the actual execution, but it’s the planning, which is the most important part. If you plan things properly, and you give a lot of thought through it, then the execution is very simple, and the results are astronomical. That’s what we did. We planned this out for a long time before we actually did it.
Alejandro: One thing that comes to mind here while I’m listening, I’m kind of putting myself in your shoes during those times, and I can’t even imagine the amount of stress and the high stakes that are involved. So, who is Sanjay during those times full of uncertainty?
Sanjay Govil: It’s a very uncertain process. You’re absolutely correct. The thing is that you do the best you can for your shareholders. Make sure that you provide the best exit to your shareholders because they’ve been with you for a long time, and you want to show them success. At the same time, you want to be fair to yourself. The business needs to continue growing because, in my opinion, any business that’s flat can only go down. You’ve got to keep evolving yourself. You’ve got to keep building your team. So, there are all these things happening because the business cannot stop. So, you’re absolutely correct; a very uncertain time. The scary part is that it’s a [36:49] when you actually go private, which is December, and you really don’t know where it’s going to end up. So, that’s the scary part of the whole thing. Again, it’s very different in America where you offer a price, and the shareholders approve it, and then that’s the price. Here, it’s a reverse-bidding exercise.
Alejandro: Just out of curiosity, is there any activity or something that you do during these tough times? Is there like meditation, or Yoga, or something you do?
Sanjay Govil: I play a lot of sports. To me, my business, in a good way, it’s a game to me. It’s a chess game. That’s how I look at it. As an entrepreneur like you are, you never look at – I know you’re very accomplished and you teach at different schools and all that stuff. You do it because you enjoy it. So, it’s a game. I love sports, for example. I love mentoring young children. So, those are all things which I am passionate about, so it’s very natural to me, so I enjoy it.
Alejandro: Let me know if you agree with this. I think that, at least for me, what I have been present to is that when you are completely unattached to the outcome is when you’re able to be effective.
Sanjay Govil: Absolutely correct. 100% correct. I’ll be honest with you. When I started Infinite, it was never the intended I want to make money. It was never about that. My lifestyle has not changed a whole lot in the last 15 to 17 years. So, it’s never about that. Like you, I go to a lot of different events, and we see the people, American billionaires, etc. What really attracts me to all of them is the humility they have. They’re so down-to-earth, and you can see that in the giving and doing all that stuff. None of them really start out with the fact that “I need to make a lot of money.” It’s never about that.
Sanjay Govil: You’re absolutely correct. If you go into anything at being entrepreneur, if you’re focused on the entrepreneur journey, which is to make a difference in people’s lives – it can be a social venture, it can be an entrepreneur, or whatever. Then, to me, the financial gains or any of those things are by-products. They’re not the product.
Alejandro: Yeah. Absolutely. Just to wrap up on your journey with Infinite Computer Solutions before we dive a little bit into Zyter, how big is Infinite Computer Solutions today?
Sanjay Govil: This year, we’re on track to do over 7 million revenue. It’s pretty much all been organic growth. Now, we’re going to look at acquisitions. Looking at doing over a billion dollars by 2021 or 2022, and we’re very on track with that. I think the deal size we’re getting is bigger and bigger now. This whole digital transformation story of where companies are outsourcing a lot, they’re infrastructure, and application developments, etc. We are major recipients of that kind of work. Also, the whole digital transformation angle because now what’s happening is, everybody is trying to become a technology company. If you look at Domino’s, if you look at Uber, if you look at Facebook, they all consider themselves as technology companies, even though they’re trying fulfill a certain need. Uber and Lyft are ridesharing companies, but they’re really technology companies. If you look at the advent of Domino’s or other people, it’s the technology thread there. So, everybody’s trying to become a technology company, and I think that’s very good for what Infinite does.
Alejandro: I hear you. How many employees do you guys have?
Sanjay Govil: Currently, we have over 7,400 employees in different countries, and we have a significant amount of employees in the U.S. also because we do a lot of health care work.
Alejandro: What a remarkable run. Let’s talk about Zyter, your next venture. Tell us about how Zyter comes about, and how did you guys do this because I’m like blown away here because with 7,400 employees already, you just thought about complicating your life a little bit more.
Sanjay Govil: Yeah. So, the whole model in our industry is changing where companies are now more and more looking at subscription-based models, software to service models to fulfill actual work. If I look at the iPhone, for example, one of the biggest reasons for success with iPhone is the ease of use. It’s about the user experience. If I look at the technology, initially it was all about big systems, the best technology, client and server, these things which have been developed, but everything was about the system. Now, if I look at what’s happening is everything is about faster, and it’s about the user experience. So, you can see that change happening. That’s why the iPhone was so successful. I was able to leapfrog the competition because of the whole user experience thing. Same thing if you look at different successful products which are there. That’s the biggest thing which is there. So, Zyter is a company which the whole objective is how do you combine this pair of systems in your organization or anywhere and provide the ultimate user experience. So, you might have an enterprise which you get called upon, and you have four different people calling you for four different things within the organization. You might be at a university, and they get ahold of you, and you hear separately from the president, separately from the dean, separately from giving, separately from exec ed, and so on. So, you’re really four, five, six, seven customers to the same enterprise or the same university. So, how do you provide that unified experience? One unified experience where all these data points from these systems are all meshed together so that you are one individual to that organization. That’s what Zyter enables you to do. Also, the whole concept of intelligence, security, and so on. All those are very important aspects. Then using Zyter, focused on particular industries, from a vertical perspective. That’s the whole function of Zyter.
Alejandro: I think that here, you took a page out of what you did in the past with your previous company, with Infinite Computer Solutions basically that you did not go out and go crazy with venture capital even though you had a successful background. With your kind of background is when people throw money at you type of thing. You waited and then you onboarded and [44:56]. So, can you walk us through how you structured that?
Sanjay Govil: Yeah, sure. Endeavor is in the business of – they own a lot of events. They’re becoming more and more a technology company. They own UFC and a whole bunch of things. We are now supporting Endeavor in a lot of different events throughout the globe. Also, we’ve gone live – and this thing is online – with Penn Station in New York, for example, where we put beacons across the station. When you walk in, it’s going to recognize you, and it’s going to tell you – just standing in front of that big screen is going to tell you your train’s delayed, and this is your new platform, etc. There’s more stuff to come than I can disclose right now. So, we’ve gone live with them. We’re also becoming very big in the health care space. For example, of all the projects we have, [46:04] has opened about 50 clinics of its own, and we have about over 200 doctors and nurse practitioners because we just caught this contract for serving the veterans. Zyter is going to be used for that. Then Zyter also is being used in some of the hospitals. Also, with the payers and providers both. The whole user experience of how do you interact with the members from providing them with documentation updates to providing them information about their co-pays? If you look at a payer, for example, you’re trying to drive down cost. How do you drive that cost? Look at the CVS-Aetna thing, for example. Everybody’s trying to become the Kaiser model where they had a payer as well as a provider in some form or fashion. So, the two ways to reduce cost is a) daily health, and b) having their people or their members go to doctors who are charging less than maybe others. That’s what Zyter enables you to do is, we have location, we have IoT, we have all those kinds of things built-in interfaces. So, we’re building a complete ecosystem into, for example, on the provider space, we had to get different EMRs, so you can collect the data from EMRs. We have created interfaces to population health, to other big platforms. Using all the information to provide the best experience to the user as well as enabling the payers to get adequate information as they can about the users from a population health perspective and provide good, in terms of what kind of stuff is coming up in the future in terms of expenses and we can do those kinds of things. Also, proactively go after the members. “You’re 50 years old. Have you had a colonoscopy done? Those kinds of things. Proactively trying to solve medical problems. That’s what Zyter enables you to do.
Alejandro: Got it, and I believe now you guys have over 50 employees. As you mentioned, growing nicely. After these experiences and looking back as an entrepreneur, I think we really get to learn from our failures because, with successes, you just keep it moving, and you don’t have that, I would say, time or perhaps perspective to reflect, to be able to understand what happened looking back, and then being able to look ahead and move full speed with the learning. So, looking back for you as a founder, what was a very dark moment for you that was a really big breakdown that led to a massive breakthrough?
Sanjay Govil: I’ll be honest with you. I’ve not had – one thing which I’ve done is as we’ve grown, even though we’ve been very aggressive and had very aggressive growth, we have been very careful in our risk-taking abilities, and we’ve always been profitable from Day 1. So, I think from my perspective, the challenges which we’ve had is which I think missteps in terms of maybe sometimes being a little too conservative than I should have been. But at the same time, I want to make sure that I don’t – I learned a lot from the whole dot-com crash, and I learned a lot from the financial crisis. I’m a big student of history. So, having said that, I knew very early in the game that it’s critical for me to keep inventing myself, reinventing myself, and create value for my shareholders and since I became public in 2010, I knew that I had to continue growing. So, I was always very careful in how I treaded that line between growth and investing and so on and so forth. So, I think in a way, that was a blessing in disguise even though being public and all that stuff has its own set of challenges, but I think from that perspective, it brought me a lot of discipline in the company and brought me a lot of processes, and things which I had to do to make the company stock grow.
Alejandro: Got it. You also own a badminton team.
Sanjay Govil: Yeah. I’ve given it up now because of my commitments working with Infinite. There’s something called Premier Badminton League in India where they get players from all over the world in badminton. Badminton, as you know, is very prevalent. We have a very good Spanish player.
Alejandro: Oh, really?
Sanjay Govil: She’s World #1 in badminton, so she actually was in our league also. The very first year when we got the team, we really didn’t know much about badminton, but I really wanted to apply the whole concept of data analysis and data analytics, etc. We actually chose our team based on analytics. Everybody started going after big names. We, on the other hand, we had a whole strategy of we have five games, we have [52:01] games. So, that was the most important point to us, and we were able to come up with a strategy. The very first year, we won the championship. The Spanish player that I was talking about, her name is Carolina Marin. She’s from Huelva, Spain.
Alejandro: Very nice.
Sanjay Govil: She was World #1 in Women’s Badminton.
Alejandro: That’s very cool. Let me ask you this one, then. What is the biggest similarity between sports and business?
Sanjay Govil: Teamwork, hunger to win, strategy, the ability to understand your competitor, and adapt yourself to how to beat the competition.
Alejandro: Really cool.
Sanjay Govil: Yes. I think that’s the most important thing. And also, the stamina to continue going. You might get tired. You can have a hiccup. I see a lot of similarities between the two. That’s why I said earlier that to me, business is a game in a good way, but you want to win. If you don’t want to win, you’re going to perish.
Alejandro: Yeah. I hear you. Then the other thing that I know as well is that you have this passion for kids, and also, you’re involved with Wharton with teaching young entrepreneurs as well. At what point in your career did you decide it was time to give back?
Sanjay Govil: Very early in the game. Like I mentioned, I’m on the Board of the Wharton School, the Graduate Board of the Wharton School, on the Board of USIBC. I have been supporting something called TiE Program, TiE Young Entrepreneurs Program in D.C., where we have a lot of children to come every year to boot camps. We teach them about entrepreneurship. I sponsored that program on a national basis on a couple of occasions, and it’s been a very rewarding experience, especially with all the emails I get from kids. I remember getting an email once from a kid, and this kid came in 2nd or 3rd in the spelling bee competition. Or, she might have won it. She had been in our competition, and she sent me an email saying that not winning this was more gratifying to her than winning whatever competition she had. So, seeing the success stories of the kids. I also had an internship program which I was doing at the Wharton School, sending a lot of kids to Wharton for different entrepreneurship in marketing, etc. Also, we had a very nice internship program at our company. Every year, we have a lot of kids who come, and they learn about different products and technologies. For me, it’s very important that kids get involved, especially girls in the technology space because they’re as good if not better than anybody. I think it’s very important that we somehow encourage young students to go into technology, especially the girls so that they get exposed early in the game. I think entrepreneurship is something also that is very important. It’s amazing how many kids have actually gone through our programs. After going through the programs, they’ve changed their minds in terms of what they want to do. They want to be either doctors or something else, but now they want to be entrepreneurs, they want to be in technology, they want to make a difference because technology, if you look at it has made the biggest impact in terms of making things faster, cheaper, better, and being able to bring a lot of things together and help us make informed decisions in every field. I think those things are very rewarding.
Alejandro: Of course. Now that we’re talking about Wharton and all these people. They’re learning incredible education. Now knowing what you know, Sanjay, if you had the opportunity to sit in one of those classrooms as a student, and you were able to talk to your younger self, to that student sitting down that is you, let’s say even before you started your first business, what would be the one piece of business advice that you would give to your younger self and why?
Sanjay Govil: I think the advice which I would give is that the soft skills are as important as the day-to-day – the MIS, the Sales Pipeline Reviews, and things of that sort which you do. There’s a fine balance between EQ and IQ. 70% says EQ. 30% says IQ. I think it’s very critical that we focus a lot on the operation side, and we are like measuring ourselves like quarter-to-quarter, etc. Life doesn’t always necessarily work like that, the thing which all the sudden might happen. If I were to go back, I would have that balance of 70/30 between the EQ and the IQ. But on the flip-side, when you’re starting out a company, the $1,000 and general-funding, etc. it’s a very fine line because you don’t know what the future’s going to be. Sitting back now, I can see where I am, but when I was doing it – I remember when I got my first email ID. I opened my email, and there were no emails there. The whole thing was, how do I create the ecosystem to start having emails? Now, we have all these employees, all the emails. If I just look at the measurement, I had of the company growth from just an email perspective, it’s a tremendous growth. I had zero emails in 2001, and now we probably have millions of emails. Those are all measurements which you have, which you can model and see what the growth of the company was.
Alejandro: I love it. So, for the folks that are listening, Sanjay, what is the best way to get in touch and say hi?
Sanjay Govil: Best way to say hi is through our website or through my – anyone answer that?
Alejandro: If you feel comfortable, you can give your email or your social media handles, whichever ones you use. Whatever you think it might be best.
Sanjay Govil: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org – that’s one way of getting in touch.
Alejandro: Wonderful. Are you on LinkedIn or Twitter or any of that?
Sanjay Govil: Yeah. I’m also on LinkedIn. I’m not on Twitter, but I’m on LinkedIn.
Alejandro: Okay, fantastic. Well, Sanjay, thank you so much for being on the Dealmakers show today.
Sanjay Govil: Yes, thank you very much for your time. I really appreciate you giving us the opportunity to talk to you.
* * *
If you like the show, make sure that you hit that subscribe button. If you can leave a review as well, that would be fantastic, and if you got any value either from this episode or from the show itself, share it with a friend. Perhaps they will also appreciate it. Also, remember, if you need any help whether it is with your fundraising efforts or with selling your business, you can reach me at email@example.com.