Monday, December 17

Motif behind their company

At 43, Parul Mehta is very much hands-on at Motif, the Ahmedabad-based BPO company she co-founded with her husband Kaushal, seven years ago. Appearing sharp even after working across time zones, she's clearly living up to her industry’s 24x7 credo. But then the Mehtas are not your average Indian tech entrepreneurs. They were among the first to set up a BPO in Gujarat when tech hubs like Bangalore and Hyderabad were popular, and Ahmedabad was a remote stub on the global outsourcing map. "It wasn't easy to start a BPO company in Ahmedabad where English-speaking manpower and internet connectivity were big issues," recalls Mehta. So the couple did the next best thing: launch non-voice based BPO services out of the city. With their strong backgrounds in IT - both are masters in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas, and have worked with leading tech companies in the US - the couple managed to convince overseas clients and investors of their capabilities. Motif was born in 2000, with $4 million in funding from four US-based investors - New York-based Desai Capital Management, The Chatterjee Group, Anthelion Capital and Fenwick & West - who together hold 55% in the company. The Mehtas hold a 22.5% stake, with the rest being held by employees under its Employee Stock Option Plan. This model worked well and the company turned profits by the end of the first year itself, says Mehta, who began her career as a design engineer with Intel Corporation in the US. Ask her about their first million, and she quips, "We won't make our millions until we go public." And that could be a couple of years away, she adds. Today, Motif does customer support, back-office transactions and, research and analytics services for Fortune-500 clients. The US$ 6 million company has roped in seven major clients - ranging from an online ticketing firm to an auction company. It was among the Top 20 Rising Stars in the Global Outsourcing 100 firms named by the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals in April 2006. The company launched its Manila operations in December 2006 to introduce voice-based services for its clients. Motif has 450 employees in Ahmedabad and another 80 in Manila, and Mehta says she hopes to cross the 1,000 mark in Ahmedabad by next year. Motif is the second venture by the Mehtas. Their first venture, Confluence, was launched in 1998 to develop customised, web portals and other services. Going forward, Mehta says the focus will be on internet-based data analysis services for pharma companies, and legal processing outsourcing and data verification services for insurance companies. Mehta isn't worried about the affects of the appreciating rupee on her business, but is working on reducing costs and expanding her business to other parts of the world. Two years ago, Motif pulled out of its strategic tie-up with Florida-based Precision Response Corporation to focus on building its own brand and to improve its realisations. Over the past five years, Mehta believes there's been considerable industrial progress in Gujarat, and that should spell more business for companies like hers operating out of the city. "As infrastructure facilities improve in the city, more of clients will be convinced about outsourcing here," she says


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