Tech entrepreneur discusses opportunities in India

Javed Tapia is an entrepreneur whose focus for much of the last two decades has been the technology industry in India. He is the founder and managing director of Clover Infotech, an IT services firm headquartered in Mumbai. Tapia also leads the real estate and solar energy divisions of the company’s portfolio.

In the early 2000s, he established Red Hat’s presence in India and served as managing director. During this stint, he helped lead the open source software movement in India and grow the company’s footprint across South Asia.

Tapia graduated from the Daytime MBA program at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business in 1991 and is a member of Fuqua's India Regional Advisory Board. He provided some perspective on the Indian technology and entrepreneurial landscapes in a Fuqua Q&A.

Javed Tapia

Q) How does an IT services firm stay in tune with the rapidly changing needs of clients? Is it more important to focus on addressing current needs or anticipating future ones?

In my opinion, IT services firms should focus on anticipating future needs of the clients. They should completely understand not just the technology trends but also the client’s domain in depth. The best IT services companies should align their technology expertise and domain knowledge to enable their clients to have an edge in business, processes, management and therefore, performance. By doing so, these IT companies will seamlessly address the rapidly changing needs of today’s clients.

Q) What is a common mistake you see businesses make when trying to leverage big data?

I believe companies should follow a top-down approach while trying to leverage big data. Many technology enthusiasts are awed by the power of big data as a technology and the ability to get unstructured data to significantly enhance inputs for decision making. The technology experts in the company and the business users should work in tandem to identify business problems. They can, as a team, leverage big data to solve business problems, augment the decision-making process and enhance business efficiencies. This strategic approach, wherein big data and analysis is synchronized with organizations growth plans and marketing, is key to making a success out of big data efforts.

Q) What key considerations should tech company leaders make when trying to attract and retain top talent in the region?

The following considerations are important:

  1. Attitude: It’s the attitude that takes the top professionals where they are. I would rate this over talent and skillsets. A professional with a positive attitude, creative bent of mind, passion for his work and the highest level of integrity is always the ideal choice in my opinion.
  2. Fits into the organizational culture: Even if you choose the best talent, it is important to check if they would align and adapt to the organization’s culture and value system.

Individuals who have the right attitude and adapt well to the organization’s culture and value system will prove to be valuable assets for the organization and will contribute immensely to its growth.

Q) What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who are considering starting a business in India?

For every aspiring entrepreneur with age on his side and a great idea in mind, India is the place to be and there is no better time than now.

With a new government and macro-economic situation becoming increasingly conducive for business, I would advise entrepreneurs to thoroughly test the effectiveness of their business idea and then go all out. I would recommend to them a three step approach:

  1. Idea Development: Equip your arsenal with as much research and insights as possible; fine-tune the idea to make it a sure-shot winner.
  2. Plan: Once there is conviction about the idea, most entrepreneurs get the required confidence to create a robust plan, raise funds, execute their vision and build a successful enterprise.
  3. Network: Equipped with the idea and the plan, you should create an excellent network of people who can help. Their learnings and experiences provide a wealth of information which can be leveraged to fine-tune the business plan and increase the probability of success.

Q) What do you know now, that you wish you had known earlier in your career as an entrepreneur?

I have learnt that there is no substitute for hard work, passion and success. There are no lucky entrepreneurs. They have all gone through the grind of working hard and staying focused amidst the many challenges that come their way.

The journey of entrepreneurship also teaches you the importance of spotting the right business trends and opportunities early and giving it your best to make it a success.

The most important learning from the entrepreneurship journey is that you need to have an excellent team, great partners, honest advisors and selfless mentors to back your vision. This team becomes an entrepreneur’s greatest strength and the best source of inspiration and motivation.