The youngest ceo suhas gopinath


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The youngest ceo suhas gopinath

  1. 1. Vinodrai Engineers Pvt. Ltd., 12 Km. Stone, Jalna-Aurangabad Road, Village Dawalwadi, District : Jalna Jalna – 431 203 ( India ) Ph: +91-2482-262000 Fax: +91-2482-262400 Web: , E-Mail : The Youngest CEO In The World. By: Shobha Warrier in Bengaluru. @ When 14-year-old Suhas Gopinath started Globals Inc ten years ago from a cyber cafe in Bengaluru, he didnt know that he had become the youngest CEO in the world. Today, Globals is a multi-million dollarcompany with offices in the United States, India, Canada, Germany, Italy, the UnitedKingdom, Spain, Australia, Singapore and the Middle East and has 100 employees inIndia and 56 abroad.Among the several honours that have been bestowed upon this young man, the mostprestigious is the invitation to be a member of the Board of the ICT Advisory Council ofthe World Bank..In 2007, the European Parliament and International Association for Human Valuesconferred Young Achiever Award on him. He was also invited to address the EuropeanParliament and other business dignitaries assembled in the EU Parliament. He is alsorecognised as one of the Young Global Leaders for 2008-2009 by the prestigious WorldEconomic Forum.Suhas is the youngest member ever in the World Economic Forums history. The othermembers include the Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, Hollywood star LeonardoDiCaprio, musician A R Rahman, Prince of Brunei, etc.In this interview from his office in Bengaluru, Suhas Gopinath talks about his decadelong journey and his dreams for the future. On his childhood I come from a middle class family. My father worked as a scientist for the Indian Army. I used to study in the Air Force school in Bengaluru. As a child, I was more interested in animals and veterinary science. But when I saw my friends who had home computers talk about it, I had this urge to learn and talk in their wave length.Pursuing excellence in rotational moulding.
  2. 2. Vinodrai Engineers Pvt. Ltd., 12 Km. Stone, Jalna-Aurangabad Road, Village Dawalwadi, District : Jalna Jalna – 431 203 ( India ) Ph: +91-2482-262000 Fax: +91-2482-262400 Web: , E-Mail : vinodraieng@rediffmail.comBut we didnt have a computer at home. In those days, computers were very expensiveand we couldnt afford one.So, what I did was, I located an Internet cafe near my house. With my modest monthlypocket money of Rs 15, I couldnt afford to surf the net every day.I noticed that the shop was closed in the afternoon from 1 PM to 4 PM. So, I offered toopen the shop for him after my school hours and take care of the customers.In the bargain, he let me browse the net for free. That was the first business deal of mylife and it turned out to be a successful one.On building websites using open source technologyOnce I got the chance to manage the shop and browse the net, I started building websites.It became my passion in no time.I got hooked to open source technology after I started looking for e-books on how tobuild websites. They were not available as they were created in propriety sources.So, I started using open source to build websites. On getting the first contract to build a website There is a freelance marketplace on the web where I could register and offer my services to build websites. I registered myself there as a website builder. The first website I had to do was free of cost as I had no references. It was for a company in New York. My first income was $100 when I was 13 forbuilding another website but I didnt have a bank account. so, I told my father that I builta website and got paid for it.I was not excited to get the money because money was not a factor that drew me to it. Itwas the passion for technology that attracted me. I used to build websites free of costalso. I was only a 9th standard student.Pursuing excellence in rotational moulding.
  3. 3. Vinodrai Engineers Pvt. Ltd., 12 Km. Stone, Jalna-Aurangabad Road, Village Dawalwadi, District : Jalna Jalna – 431 203 ( India ) Ph: +91-2482-262000 Fax: +91-2482-262400 Web: , E-Mail : vinodraieng@rediffmail.comAfter that, I built my own portal and called it It was focused onNRIs. It was a portal where I wanted to showcase my skills.After that, many companies approached me to be their web designer.On buying his first computer When I was in the 9th standard itself, I had made enough money to buy a computer for myself. At that time, my brother was studying engineering and my father thought he needed a computer. In no time, I also bought one for myself. But we didnt have a net connection at home. My spending hours in the net cafe working on websites did affect my studies. I spent the entire summer vacation after the 9th standard in the cafe. On rejecting a job offer from the US When I was 14, Network Solutions offered me a part-time job in the US and they said they would sponsor my education in the US.I rejected the offer because that was the time I had read a story about Bill Gates and howhe started Microsoft.I thought it was more fun to have your own company. Many US companies used to tellme that I didnt even have a moustache and they felt insecure taking my services. Theyused to connect my ability with my age and academic qualifications.So, I wanted to start my own company and show the world that age and academicqualifications are immaterial. I decided then that when I started a company, I wouldrecruit only youngsters and I would not ask for their academic qualifications and markscards. I follow that in my company.On starting his own company at 14Soon after my 9th standard summer vacation, I started my own company, Globals Inc. Iwanted the name Global or Global Solutions but both were not available, so I named itGlobals.Pursuing excellence in rotational moulding.
  4. 4. Vinodrai Engineers Pvt. Ltd., 12 Km. Stone, Jalna-Aurangabad Road, Village Dawalwadi, District : Jalna Jalna – 431 203 ( India ) Ph: +91-2482-262000 Fax: +91-2482-262400 Web: , E-Mail : vinodraieng@rediffmail.comI registered my company in the US as in India, you will not be able to start a companyunless you are 18. It takes only 15 minutes to start a company in the US. I became the owner and CEO of the company. My friend, an American who was a university student, became a board member. I was very excited because that was what I wanted to do. From that day, I started dreaming of making my company as big as Microsoft. On doing badly in school In my pre-board CBSE exam, I failed in Mathematics. The school headmistress was shocked because that was the first time I had failed in anysubject. She called my mother and said she was horrified by my performance.At home, like any typical South Indian mother, my mother made me swear on her headthat I would focus on academics.I told my mother that the worlds richest man Bill Gates had not completed his education.Why do you force me then, I asked her. She then said, I am sure his horoscope and yoursare not the same!I come from a family where entrepreneurship is considered a sin. My mother was quiteupset. She wanted me to do engineering, then an MBA and work in a good company.As per my mothers wishes, I took a four-month sabbatical from my company and studiedfor my board exam. I passed with a first class.I still feel that you cannot restrict yourself to bookish knowledge. I believe that practicalknowledge is more important.In the first year, the turnover of Globals Inc was Rs 1 lakh (Rs 100,000). The secondyear, the turnover went up to Rs 5 lakh (Rs 500,000).On looking at Europe as a marketTill I was 16 or 17, I didnt tell my parents that I had started a company. I kept it a secretbecause I thought they would object to it. They only knew that I was a freelancer.Pursuing excellence in rotational moulding.
  5. 5. Vinodrai Engineers Pvt. Ltd., 12 Km. Stone, Jalna-Aurangabad Road, Village Dawalwadi, District : Jalna Jalna – 431 203 ( India ) Ph: +91-2482-262000 Fax: +91-2482-262400 Web: , E-Mail : vinodraieng@rediffmail.comWe used to build websites and also offer online shopping and e commerce solutions. Weeven gave part time work to a few programmers in the US when we got many projectsbut we never had any office. When I was 16, I saw that there were enormous business opportunities in Europe as a majority of the Indian IT companies were working for American companies. When I contacted a Spanish company, it rejected my offer saying Indians do not know Spanish. As an entrepreneur, you cant accept rejection, especially when you are young.I hired five student interns from some Spanish universities and told them they would bepaid based on their successful sales.They were the people who met the companies and bagged the projects for us. By now, wedecided to have a home office in Spain.I replicated the same model in Italy. I contacted some Italian university students.On going to Germany to talk about entrepreneurship The American newspapers were writing a lot about me as the worlds youngest CEO at 14 from India, from a middle class background. It was a good story for the BBC also. I never expected to be in the limelight. For me, starting a company was like realising a passion of mine. On seeing these stories, a B-school in Germany invited me to talk to its students onentrepreneurship. I was 17 then. By now, I had completed my 12th standard and hadjoined Engineering in Bengaluru.When I was 18, we set up an office -- the European HQ in Bonn. Then, we moved toSwitzerland. Six months back, we started our operations in Vienna as well.That is how we spread our operations from a small Internet cafe to become amultinational company with significant operations in Europe, Middle East, the US,Canada, the UK, Australia, etc.Pursuing excellence in rotational moulding.
  6. 6. Vinodrai Engineers Pvt. Ltd., 12 Km. Stone, Jalna-Aurangabad Road, Village Dawalwadi, District : Jalna Jalna – 431 203 ( India ) Ph: +91-2482-262000 Fax: +91-2482-262400 Web: , E-Mail : vinodraieng@rediffmail.comOn registering a company in India at 18 The day I turned 18, I registered our company in India as Globals, opened an office and recruited four people. I opened the office next to the Internet cafe where I started my career. By then, he had closed shop and joined a factory as an employee. Whenever I met him, I used to tell him, you made me an entrepreneur but you stopped being one.On moving to creating productsWe wanted our company also to be a product development company and our focus wason education, like the software that manages everything about a child while in schoolstarting from admission till he/she leaves school and becomes an alumnus.It is a nasty software which students are going to be quite unhappy about! This softwarewas aimed only at the Indian market. I want to be the market leader in ICT in education.Our software is being used in more than 100 schools all over India, Singapore and theMiddle East.We are now in the process of raising funds. Once we do it, we will separate the companyinto two -- service and product development. I want to concentrate on products as I cantsail on two boats.On meeting former President Abdul KalamI met Dr Abdul Kalam when he was the President of India. I was 17 or 18 then. Mymeeting was scheduled for 15 minutes but we had such an intense conversation that itwent on for one-and-a-half hours.I didnt feel that I was talking to the President of India. We talked like two friends. Hewas sitting in his chair across the table but after some time, he came and sat next to me.He is such a modest person that it was a learning experience for me.Pursuing excellence in rotational moulding.
  7. 7. Vinodrai Engineers Pvt. Ltd., 12 Km. Stone, Jalna-Aurangabad Road, Village Dawalwadi, District : Jalna Jalna – 431 203 ( India ) Ph: +91-2482-262000 Fax: +91-2482-262400 Web: , E-Mail : vinodraieng@rediffmail.comOn being on the board of the World BankAs per the wishes of my parents, I joined engineering but didnt complete myengineering: like Bill Gates! When I was in my 5th semester, the World Bank invited meto attend their board meeting. I am the only Indian on the board of the World Bank.The objective was to explore how ICT can improve the quality of education in theemerging economies, by bringing in accountability and transparency in their financialdeeds. Robert B. Zoellick, the president of the World Bank, decided that they could not have only Americans on the board and needed people from across the world. As they were focussing on education, they wanted young minds to add value to the work. He preferred a young mind from an emerging country and that was how I got the invitation in 2005. Not even in my wildest dreams did Iimagine that I would be on the board of the World Bank. The invitation was the mostunforgettable moment in my life. I report directly to Robert B Zoellick!Some of the others on the board are the CEO of Cisco, the vice president of Microsoftand the CEO of SAP; all Fortune 500 companies and me, the only Indian!I am helping the World Bank set policies on ICT in university education so thatemployability can be enhanced. My aim is to reduce the number of unemployed eligibleyouth in the world.Right now, we are concentrating on Africa. Soon, I want to shift the focus on to India. Ithas been an amazing experience for me.But I had to discontinue my engineering education at the time I joined the board, as Ididnt have enough attendance in college!Pursuing excellence in rotational moulding.
  8. 8. Vinodrai Engineers Pvt. Ltd., 12 Km. Stone, Jalna-Aurangabad Road, Village Dawalwadi, District : Jalna Jalna – 431 203 ( India ) Ph: +91-2482-262000 Fax: +91-2482-262400 Web: , E-Mail : vinodraieng@rediffmail.comOn his dreams for his companyI have always believed that IT is not just technology but a tool that can solve theproblems of people.That is what I want to do in my company. I want my company to be a market leader in software solutions concentrating on education. When I was younger, I didnt care about money. Now that I am responsible for my employees, I care about what we make. If I am not bothered about money, we cannot scale up our business. When I started my companyfrom a net cafe in Bengaluru, I never ever imagined that one day my company would be amulti-million dollar company and I would be on the World Bank board as a member.What drives me is my passion and it has been an amazing journey so far.Suhas on U Tube excellence in rotational moulding.