Bangalore: Chennai businessman G.B. Prabhat is trying out in services what has proven to be a best practice in manufacturing. After scoping out the information technology (IT) needs of customers, his company designs a tech architecture, sources software and solutions from a network of global partners, stitches them together, rolls it out and maintains it—much like a car maker runs its business.
Prabhat calls his company, Anantara Solutions Pvt. Ltd, a second-generation outsourcing firm. “Our idea is to combine business consulting services and IT services to deliver measurable business value,” says the founder and CEO.
Also See Quick Glance (Graphic)
Founded in 2006 by a group of eight former employees of Satyam Computer Services Ltd, Anantara currently has about 75 customers in 17 nations, of which two are Fortune 500 companies, whose names Prabhat will not disclose.
Satyam, in spite of a recent accounting fraud that disgraced it, has a pedigree of expertise implementing software products and solutions across industries such as financial services and automobiles.
Prabhat says he was disillusioned with the existing methods of outsourcing as they were focused more on cost arbitrage than ways to improve the business performance.
Inspired by the likes of Cisco Systems Inc. and Toyota Motor Corp., which source components from other companies across the globe for their products, Anantara has sourcing relationship with specialist firms and provides solutions to manufacturing, retail, logistics, Web 2.0 and online businesses, media and entertainment, banking, financial services and insurance companies. Its prominent Indian clients include auto maker Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd and auto instruments company Pricol Ltd.
Two classes of solutions are provided by the firm—business and strategic. Business solutions combine consulting capabilities with technology delivery capabilities for solving key business problems such as logistics and utility computing. The company says these solutions help in reducing cost of managing IT assets, increasing productivity and profit.
Under its strategic solutions, Anantara leverages it 5,000-strong workforce to provide offshoring strategies to customers aspiring to set up their offshore centres. The strategies include what to offshore, how to offshore, and associated risks.
The company, which counts big technology firms such as International Business Machines Corp. and Tata Consultancy Services Ltd as potential competition, makes its money through payments for services rendered and by sharing in the business gains of clients. Prabhat declined details such as his company’s revenues or if his firm was profitable.
Prabhat says the current slowdown has affected the firm both positively and negatively. On the upside, the firm has been approached by a higher number of prospective clients looking at more cost-effective ways of outsourcing. “We are being heard more now than in good times, as people are trying to squeeze more out of their money,” he says. On the flip side, it is facing cash flow difficulty as the customers are not paying on time.
In 2007, Anantara raised $6.5 million (Rs31.6 crore today) from Helion Venture Partners and three other investors, including Walden international, SVB Financial Group and Christian Wedell, a US-based venture capitalist.
“We believe outsourcing will be an important part of everyone’s business in future, so Anantara will have huge opportunities to scale up,” says Ashish Gupta, managing director, Helion.
The rub will be in that the company will have to educate customers to create awareness. In an environment of global downturn, customers could go slow on their buying decisions, which could affect Anantara, Gupta added.
Meanwhile, Anantara, which currently sources from partners in China, Russia, Singapore, Canada, the US and, even Malta, besides India, plans to start sourcing next from Eastern Europe and Latin America.
Anantara also expects to increase its customer reach from 17 nations to 25 nations. Prabhat says Anantara may look at raising more funds ahead of a plan to go public in five-six years.
Anantara Solutions Pvt. Ltd is one of the nominated companies at the Tata NEN Hottest Startups competition, of which Mint is the official print media partner. Details of the competition can also be accessed at www.livemint.com/hotteststartups