Six years ago Nicky Kedia was driving a new Mercedes-Benz and wearing a Rolex watch, his rewards for being a top performer at NovaSoft Information Technology, a fast-growing software firm on Quakerbridge Road that often gained the spotlight for its flashy incentive programs. Novasoft made the "Fast 50" lists, growing to 250 employees in what seemed like no time, but then it was sold, and it downsized.
Kedia still has the Rolex, but now he is his own boss, and he says the success of his two companies, both based at Lawrence Commons, is not based on publicity or showy prizes.
"Novasoft was a great company to work with, and I have no regrets," says Kedia. "I learned a lot of things you should do and not do and maybe you are a complete business man when you know both."
In 2001, after four years with Novasoft, Kedia founded Software Arts, which grew to $8 million in revenues in three years, expanding in 2003 from 2304 Brunswick Pike to Lawrence Commons (adjacent to the Mercer Mall). That year he founded Bramha InfoTech, which grew from zero to $6 million in revenues in one year.
Each company has seven employees at Lawrence Commons, for a total of 14, and each has more than 50 full-time workers at client locations. Bramha Infotech, for instance, has a division in Bombay with 15 people "in house" and 20 people at client sites. Kedia is hiring programmer analysts, software engineers, business analysts, and financial analysts.
Here’s how Kedia divides the work: Software Arts does IT staffing and consulting, while Bramha does IT staffing and turnkey software projects in the healthcare and financial industries. Kedia does vendor management for large companies in India and may offer that service in Singapore and London. He also plans to open an office in Chicago.
Kedia grew up in Bombay, where his parents imported raw materials for plastics and petrochemical manufacturing, and his elder brother has a software firm. Kedia’s father died as he was finishing his schooling (University of Bombay, Class of 1993, and a master’s degree at Clark University in Boston). "All the business I learned was in the first 14 years of my life," he says. "The rest was a finishing school."
Don’t go after awards. Prizes don’t pay bills, he says, and he points to a record of no lay-offs for in-house employees for the four-year history of his firm. "The day I go public I will crave publicity, but as a serious businessman, I don’t need awards to tell me how good or bad I am doing. My employees will tell me. If they ask why we don’t do awards, I tell them, ‘Do you want a paycheck or an award?’"
Don’t get capital until it’s needed. "The day we have something worthwhile to spend our money on, that’s when we will seek money. Otherwise you get tempted to spend on what you don’t need. If it is not your own money you get a little careless."
Stay debt free. "We run our own payroll and I monitor my finances on a weekly basis. We want to keep our fixed costs as low as possible."
Let people grow your company. Keep the employees motivated so they feel they are part of the growth, and not just a number. He likes to do this by promoting from inside the company. "One of our top sales people will take the Chicago office and grow to the next level, not just stay as a good sales person."
Count the cost of outsourcing offshore. "Outsourcing is here to stay, just like manufacturing moved years ago. But it is not workable for every client. It depends on how much you are actually saving. If you are going to spend more money in the long run, it does not make much sense. And, in India, it is not easy to find talent. India cannot cope with all the work it has."
At home in Bombay, "every day there was a new lesson in business," remembers Kedia. "Business varied from month to month. My father taught us not only to accept profits but to take care of your losses, shrug them off, and go to the next plan hoping you will make a profit." Another lesson he learned from his father: "Nobody else makes money for you. You have to work it yourself." His father was fond of expressing that in a special way: "Nobody else can show you heaven. To see heaven, you have to die yourself."
Bramha Infotech, 3371 Route 1, Lawrence Commons, Suite 117, Lawrenceville 08648. Nicky Kedia. 609-275-6200; fax, 609-275-6230. Home page: www.bramhainfotech.com