Suhas Gopinath, hailing from a middle class family, found his passion in all things internet while he was still at school. Now 28 years old, Gopinath is the founder and CEO of Global Inc, a multinational IT company, a role he took on at age 17. He was among the speakers at a Knowledge Seminar on day three of Goafest, presented by Star India.
"As an entreprenuer it is very hard to listen to the word 'no' and even more so when you're very young," stated the entrepreneur, as he replayed the story of his career thus far.
Gopinath started off recounting a barter deal with an internet cafe in Bengaluru. When the owner was out for lunch, he manned the cafe, getting to use the net for free in the bargain. To account for his time at the cafe to his mother, he lied about joining NCC at school and attending special classes. He started to learn how to build websites and soon started working as a freelancer to help companies from the US build theirs. And this was even before he had completed his ninth standard.
It was during this time that he sent out his first CV to an American company, to which he recalled receiving a 'very sarcastic reply' -- one that egged him to start out on his own. Assistance from his partner in barter, given his age, allowed Gopinath to register the company.
In class ten, he did not clear his maths prelim exam, understandably 'a great disappointment' for his mother. His mother's disapproval only egged hum further to set up shop.
The growth story
Until Gopinath was 17, his company continued to just keep churning out websites for companies, and it has not engaged in marketing or advertising till date. But this is set to change with plans to build the company brand.
His approach to creating a demand for his business drew mixed reactions from the people and businesses he was trying to engage, he revealed. He opened the Yellow Pages website for the American companies and searched for automobile manufacturers in the US. It showed all the CEOs' e-mail addresses and also whether or not they had websites. With a fake e-mail account under the name 'Michael', Gopinath e-mailed those who didn't have websites saying, 'We would like to import automobile component from you so could you please send me a link to your website'.
When companies which did not have websites said they could could share documents instead, he responded that they don't meet the supplier standards in that case. This was followed by a business pitch which brought in orders for websites to be made in 48 hours or less. He later revealed the 'Michael' approach to the world to win business and decided to come clean. After the reveal, some clients appreciated his honesty and continued to do business with him, while a smaller percentage considered legal action, he noted.
In the course of his talk, he offered some advice to fellow CEOs: "It is very important for leaders of it to identify those employees with the most passion for their jobs, and to be able to ignite the fire in their belly. As CEOs, it is very important that you lead from the back and encourage the new ones to make new mistakes."