This is the first time since its inception that the body has made additions to its core group.
The nomenclature of the Founders Circle, however, can be misleading – it applies to a core group of members who have made donations to the body. While there is no fixed fee for joining iSpirt, the organisation shares an ‘indicative donation amount’ that every new member pays.
“This is not a paid membership,” said Sharad Sharma, one of the founding members of iSpirt. “We have only invited people who are strong believers in our vision. We have expanded the Founder Circle mainly to have better representation of the industry. These 80 companies represent the best role models for India’s software product entrepreneurs.”
Of the 61 companies that had been invited in this expansion round 50 accepted, almost everybody selected to become a Founder Circle donor, Sharma claimed.
“The response has been overwhelming, we have had to cap the Founder Circle donor group to 50 to keep it manageable,” he said. “Since we could not accommodate everybody, we will find ways to co-opt them in the iSpirt family in different ways in the coming months.”
The expansion comes as a shot in the arm for iSpirt, which was set up in part because the founding members – software veterans, investors and software product companies – felt that they weren’t getting adequate resources or support from the National Association of Software Services Companies, or Nasscom, which is undeniably the largest and most influential industry body in the information technology industry.
Among the new entrants are some prominent software product entrepreneurs such as Sanjay Deshpande, co-founder of Uniken, a digital security technology provider founded by a team of senior executives from Infosys, and Rohil Sharma, chief executive officer of disaster recovery solutions provider Perpetuuiti.
Additionally, Raghunandan G, founder of TaxiForSure, Sumit Jain, co-founder of CommonFloor.com, and Subex’ Chief Operating Officer Vinod Kumar have also thrown their weight behind iSpirit in the second round of memberships. Over the last one-and-a-half years, iSpirt has been working closely with trade bodies, including Nasscom, to participate in policy making, and representing Indian software product companies globally.
Among other things, iSpirt played a catalyst’s role in global technology major Facebook's first Indian acquisition, that of Bangalore-based software product firm Little Eye Labs. The organisation has also initiated several programmes that will help Indian startups network with global technology majors and showcase their capabilities.
In fact, nearly half the new members are growth-stage firms, another 40 per cent are at early stage, while the rest are in 'hyper growth stage’, Sharma said. The diversity of these companies is also reflected in the fact that 60 per cent of them are funded while the remaining are bootstrapped.
The new members represent traditional as well as cutting-edge technologies – from plain vanilla security, healthcare, e-learning, and workflow, to enterprise mobility, big data, cloud, analytics, and collaboration spaces – spread across markets in the US, India and other emerging economies.
Even as several infotech services companies, increasingly focusing on software products, also showed interest in becoming members of the founder circle of iSpirt, Sharma said that services companies, venture capital firms, and multinational companies would not be eligible.