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IT's year of happiness, and some serious businesses for Happiest Minds

Bibhu Ranjan Mishra & Praveen Bose  |  Bangalore 

On Thursday evening, most of the 500-odd employees of Happiest Minds Technologies had converged in the courtyard of their newly-set-up office in Electronics City on the outskirts of Bangalore.

Dressed in every possible ethnicwear, including the salwar pajama with the Mysore petta (a head gear of Mysore royals), dhoti-kurti, saree; the senior management, including founder Chairman Ashok Soota, and the employees were cutting cakes. The celebration was doubly important as the company had advanced the usual birthday celebrations which it does at the end of every month for employees whose birthday falls in a month.

The company seems to have taken a sheaf out of former Bhutanese King Jigme Singye Wangchuk’s book where he said he strongly believed in the concept of GNH (gross national happiness) than GNP (gross national product).

For Happiest Minds, the celebration of Rs happiness’ is the motto, be it with its staff or with customers. Happiness has been woven into the DNA of the start-up; its main building is christened Rs Smile 1’ and the soon-to-be opened second office is proposed to be named ‘Smile 2’.

Every meeting in the company starts with someone’s comments on what is making him feel happy, may by uttering one sentence of gratitude for somebody or something. During the anniversary celebration on Thursday, 18 employees pledged to donate their organs. Interestingly, the mother of one if its employees also pledged to donate organs.

It is not just about employee. The company claims if it manage to make its employees happy, then the customers will also be happy. Even a recent platform the company has set up for one of its Indian customers, OneAssist, is centered around the theme of ‘happiness’. The product will make the travellers happier by providing them a single platform to take care of loss of travel related requirements starting from visas, passport, credit cards, booking of hotels through a secured platform. “Basically, it is about creating a peace of mind for the traveller,” says Soota.

And Happiest Minds does all these by not compromising its core business. For example, a little over one year since its inception the company claims to be servicing over 25 customers across India, the US and Europe. The company, which last year secured $45 million in series A funding led by Canaan Partners, Intel Capital and Soota and other co-founders, today has more number of offices in the US (seven) than India. Soota says he is surprised with what the company has achieved in a short span.

“It’s a great fund to start from the scratch. I certainly enjoyed the experience. When I look back, in one sense it looks like yesterday. On the other side, it also gives a sense of feeling that Rs Oh God, we have done so much; how could we do it in such a short span,” Soota said in an exclusive interaction with Business Standard.

But growth of the company will come compromising the core value and high degree of corporate governance standards what it has already emulated. The company, since the inception, has taken a conscious decision that it will follow the statutory requirements which are sometimes required for a listed company.

“Our first full financial year will complete on March 31. At that time, we will begin to share some financial numbers because we want to be as transparent as possible. We have created the governance structure of the company, upfront. We have created a well-respected board. We have appointed an internal auditor which is not statutory in the first year. We have also created policies like whistleblower and grievances which are required for a publicly-listed company,” says Soota.

Going forward, Soota says the initial funding it raised last year will be enough to drive the company o a pre-IPO phase, and only when the company considers an acquisition, “it may require some more funds”.

“One of the biggest anxieties when you start a business is where will I get my first customer; why should the customer come to me anyway. I am very blessed because we leveraged past relationships,” says Soota.

But it does not mean that we have leveraged any of the past accounts, he quickly adds.

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First Published: Mon, September 03 2012. 00:09 IST