Editor’s note: InfrasoftTech provides core banking, microfinance and anti-money laundering software solutions for the global banking and financial services industry and focuses on enhancing banks’ reach through e-channels. Hanuman Tripathi, co-founder and group managing director, discusses the global market for his company’s products and shares information for other entrepreneurs about the risks involved in product development decisions. This article is brought to SandHill readers in partnership with ProductNation.
SandHill.com: How did your company originate; what led you to know you had a winning vision?
Hanuman Tripathi: The blueprint of current-day InfrasoftTech was written over a single 24-hour meeting between my co-founders and me sitting at a suburban five-star hotel in Mumbai in November, 1994. Once the writing pads were full late in the night, the final blueprint was completed on hand tissues! After months of negotiations, we finally got started in July 1995 in Mumbai, India.
I previously worked for 20 years in the banking software and solutions space and, prior to that, about 10 years in IT and the Telecom sector. I worked with reputed business houses in senior positions before starting InfrasoftTech 17 years ago. At the time of conceptualizing InfrasoftTech, I selected other co-founders and core team members who are qualified engineers in the space of software technology, software development, software services, all in the banking automation space.
The name InfrasoftTech was derived by merging the words infrastructure and software together. Our core banking solution caters to boutique banks or SME banks by physical size of operations, although the product or architecture does not restrict scalability. The rest of our products are used by blue chip and SME financial enterprises alike. Our software services are used by top-of-the-line financial brands in every market.
SandHill.com: You launched your company 17 years ago and now have over 200 customers worldwide in the banking and financial services industry. What was your path to globalization?
Hanuman Tripathi: We have a strong market presence in the product space of core banking, microfinance and anti-money laundering. Our first target market was domestic banks, fulfilling their rapid automation needs. After 2000, our globalization process commenced and we added the U.K., Middle East, Africa and South East Asia to our client list. We also have a growing presence in Canada and the USA.
Globalization has been our biggest challenge to date, which is not uncommon. We needed to continuously innovate, and also acquire market leadership in several spaces.
SandHill.com: Please describe your product.
Hanuman Tripathi: InfrasoftTech is one of the few companies globally who have created a unified, single technology architecture that delivers a fully integrated front-end, middleware and back-end application that can automate banking and other financial services businesses. This architecture is known as the OMNIEnterprise™ suite of solutions.
The individual products are Core Banking Solution, Anti Money Laundering & Financial Crime Surveillance Solution and a Microfinance Solution. We also have a full-fledged working Islamic Finance Solution. All our products inherit fully integrated online operations automation delivered in the architecture and carry state-of-the-art business processes as required in the individual systems.
SandHill.com: What is the value proposition and product differentiation?
Hanuman Tripathi The InfrasoftTech proposition is vastly different from most product vendors globally. We provide comprehensive solutions that can automate a bank or a financial services organization at an enterprise level with a common look & feel and integrated processes. Our systems focus on automating customer services through e-channels, enhance productivity through online business process management and provide extensive coverage on compliance and MIS reporting.
We also undertake responsibility of data migration for successful deployment and go-live of our solutions, rarely offered by other vendors. And we have flexible models to suit investments and systems maturity needs of IT, thereby delivering an on-premises license-based solution as well as a cloud-based, pay-as-you-use model. Our product not only helps banks lower the cost of transactions but also significantly reduce the cost of reporting and admin.
SandHill.com: If you could go back and do it all over again, from the time you first began planning for your company, what would you do differently the second time around, and why?
Hanuman Tripathi: I would take one of the two approaches. One is that I would adopt a lower capital utilization plan and smaller teams to have a single product approach for focus markets. That way the company may have stayed small but we would have managed customer expectations and need for profitability much better.
The other approach is that I could have taken a pure services approach and created domain consulting-based specialized services and periodically infuse more investment to fund innovation and scale-up. This way we would have created a differentiated services organization that could compete with large IT firms and yet grow multifold year over year. The benchmark of both these approaches would have been different.
If you look at our company, you’ll see that we blended both of these approaches.
SandHill.com: Which of your personal attributes or personality traits has helped you the most in efforts to grow your company?
Hanuman Tripathi: In my opinion, very humbly, I am very passionate about my profession or literally anything that I take up. This automatically brings in commitment, focus, ingenuity, hard work, etc.
The other aspect I found very critical is to connect with people. I think I strongly empathize and relate to people. There is also a spiritual belief that is ingrained in me; I believe in God or the presence of a divine intervention in everything a living being does. This gives me extra energy to work with positivity.
SandHill.com: Please describe a tradeoff you had to make in your time-to-market race and how you decided what to do.
Hanuman Tripathi: When we started in 1995, the expected investments were to arrive at one time; however we received the same over a long period of time. This forced us to take a call to cut short the gestation period of the company by launching the core product faster. We knew this would not be easy as it could lead to deficiencies, defects etc.
So we decided to place a few smaller products in the market beforehand, while accelerating the core development. This helped us to launch e-channel products in the market faster, which gave us a few initial customers who trusted our ability and would risk a lower investment on us. This gave us time to deliver the core product in the market. There are several such examples where we had to compromise a planned go-to-market due to sudden change in market behavior.
SandHill.com: So you took an important risk. What advice do you have for entrepreneurs regarding risk-filled decision making?
Hanuman Tripathi: First it is important to take risks. You cannot wait for complete clarity or measurability or all risks to be removed from a project.
My other advice for entrepreneurs is to collaborate with people, customers and partners. This is critical. Also, every business must bring in formal processes and governance early in the business cycle; this will help to build scalability.
SandHill.com: What non-software business or social leader has most influenced your approach to your personal life or your career?
Hanuman Tripathi: At all times, I am influenced by the ideologies, grit and determination of Mahatma Gandhi. Can you imagine: one single person transformed the thinking and attitude of a vast and populous country like India, that was too largely underprivileged 70-80 years ago, to seek independence without resorting to violence. When he took up this mantle, he had no reason to throw away personal comforts except for the sake of the country and people. He showed that love for the masses and country can be extremely selfless.
He took a very large risk and worked towards increasing the chances of success of the mission. All along, he advocated and demonstrated personal integrity.
SandHill.com: How does your company change the software industry vendor landscape?
Hanuman Tripathi: In the Indian co-operative banking industry, there have been no reasonable-size vendors having investments, formal organization, processes, product roadmap, customer support strategy, growth orientation. etc. InfrasoftTech filled this void to come out as a leader that has all the essentials of a large company in a midsize organization, where the founders are close to the customers. This has helped to enhance customer trust in a well institutionalized and governed organization that also provides personalized attention.
SandHill.com: Imagine that next week you have a full day with an empty calendar. What would you do that day?
Hanuman Tripathi: We recognize and act on the need for work-life balance for ourselves and our teams and push everyone to have a leisure break at regular intervals. Hence, I would not need to take an extra holiday or a leisure activity.
SandHill.com: Where is your favorite place? Why do you like it so much?
Hanuman Tripathi: I like Switzerland the best among the large number of countries that I have visited. The sole reason is that all individual places in Switzerland are equally beautiful, serene and close to nature. This probably is one of the few places in the world known for high standards in business, quality, etc. and yet is famous as a holiday destination for nature lovers. In India, I rate Manali and Ooty above other places for their tranquility.
SandHill.com: What is something you’ve wanted to do for a long time but haven’t done yet?
Hanuman Tripathi: In my personal time, I wish to go for paragliding and scuba diving, which I always miss as our holidays are crammed with loads of activities.
SandHill.com: What do the next 12 months hold for your company?
Hanuman Tripathi: As you know, Western markets are under stress that is causing a slow-down in other markets too. The IT industry perennially hopes that each year will be better than the previous. Presently due to our investments made in offerings and markets, we believe InfrasoftTech will grow exponentially in the next 12 months using the path of organic and inorganic modes. Our major growth markets for products are likely to be in the emerging markets and for services in the Western markets. Our human capital numbers are also likely to cross a benchmark of 1,000 resources in the near future.
Hanuman Tripathi is co-founder and group managing director of InfrasoftTech. He has over 30 years’ experience in banking software and telecom. Prior to InfrasoftTech he worked with organizations such as Forbes Group, HCL and Tatas. While CEO at InfrasoftTech, the company expanded in India, UK, Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia. He has received several awards for leadership attributes. Tripathi is Western Regional Council Member for NASSCOM and is also on their SME Mentor Group.
Kathleen Goolsby is managing editor at SandHill.com.