“Our clients come to us because they need radical solutions that they can’t get from their internal groups.” -Steven Skov-Holt

Happy Birthday Ideafarms. Stay Kewl!

Sunil Malhotra
Apr 17, 2015 · 5 min read

Ideafarms just turned thirteen. My turn now to thank everybody that helped make it happen.

Should I be optimistic? The year gone by has been one of the most challenging for the company we founded in the summer of 2002. And in some ways, rewarding.

We wanted to do stuff. “Kewl stuff!” was the popular refrain at the factory shed in Okhla, New Delhi, that we had gathered within. It was our cocoon. A place where we wanted to stay forever with dreams of becoming a butterfly. It was our collective dream, the nine of us.

It was a challenging time. The wake of 9/11 had brought everything to a standstill. The world had not even begun to recover from the aftershocks of the collapse of the twin towers (when I visited the memorial in 2012, I was hit by a flood of memories of that black day). India was not yet the startup nation it is today; the nation’s entire IT businesses came in from US shores.

Everything seemed stacked against starting up a company, most of all that we had no funders backing our idea. But there were two things that helped Ideafarms get off the ground to become the great company it did become for a short while. The first one was passion which fuelled the “can-do” attitude of each of the six youngsters — Bimal Dimri was the leader of the pack, a multi-faceted engineer turned 3D animation expert under whose shadow (literally) Anil Soman lived. Anil still is one of the crackest geeks you’ll ever find. Anil architechted, designed and executed our first big overseas order, almost single-handedly. Bimal was a rockstar and looked it too. He played musical instruments with the disdain of a master. Ruben Chhetri, also a musician (we had made a video of his first Nepalese audio album), was a creative soul whose ambition seemed to have eluded him. He was Bimal’s understudy and Ananda’s partner in progress. Ananda Gupta was a vocalist and a master at all Macromedia software and more — Flash, Director, Dreamweaver, Fireworks. Then there was Neelam Gill (Bimal and she are married) who was perhaps the only qualified Designer on the team and who kept trying to outdo the boys. Puneet Gupta (no relation of Ananda), barely out of his twenties, was the sole Tech guy. Puneet stayed around the longest and went on to become the key account manager of the Continental relationship. All of them have moved on and are, in their own ways, doing what they set out to do. Ideafarms goes on, but we miss them, their energy and their fierce committment and loyalty. So we move on too.

The second factor in our favour was the alignment of our stars. How else could a small startup, operating out of a non-descript shed in a corner of Delhi’s dirtiest industrial area, with no money in the bank, and hardly any track record, have become a strategic IT partner of Continental AG, one of the world’s largest automotive companies? A partnership that made the business world sit up and take notice.

Economic Times Sep 1, 2006 article propels Ideafarms into the big league.

Actually, there was a third factor as well. I cannot forget the kindness and faith of Paul Schwefer, then the Group CIO of Continental AG, in believing that we could provide a different kind of value. Things that were too small for the big guys. Looking back I think he took a risk. A risk that paid off handsomely for both. We created a win-win model of outsourcing we started calling smartsourcing after reading Thomas Koulopoulos’s highly insightful and successful book “Smartsourcing: Driving Innovation and Growth through Outsourcing”. Tom’s a great friend now.

Continental was an opportunity we frittered away. A mistake that cost us dear.

The mistake we made was not the infamous Copyright Violation dispute where Continental blatantly used our software beyond the licensed term of our agreement, but the fact that we did not distribute our risks by leveraging the partnership to get more clients on board. (Not one of our other clients was at even 10% of the business we were doing with Continental). Second, we did nothing about PR.

Read the full article here. http://spicyip.com/2012/05/german-court-delivers-unfair-judgment.html.

And for those of you who still regard Intellectual Property as holy, please join our fight, reported by Economic Times — Should Government support Davids?

The last 5 years have been trying. Everything we’ve done to reinvent ourselves has not worked. The stars don’t seem aligned. Yet we have hope. Because our WHY is still the primary driver. We have always stayed true to our purpose of doing “kewl stuff”. One of which is to create opportunities for those we work with — employees, partners and customers — to do what matters most. Some people have called it a triple bottomline: People, Profit and Planet are all equally important to a responsible business. Our client philosophy is nicely summed up by Hartmut Esslinger, in his book A Fine Line

“… design became a means to achieving a higher goal for my client.”

DealChaat, our disruptive and futuristic hyperlocal platform hasn’t been able to take off. We’re still struggling to find partners that can help take this to the world. After all mobileapps are here to stay.

Here’s the merchant video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZtlHZ30x00

DIY frictionless shopper app

Check out the DealChaat Youtube Channel

We’ve almost run out of money. We’re passing the hat around, not for loose change but to invite you to partner with us to make our proposition the biggest success since Google.

Because DealChaat is Kewl!

We started up under worse conditions, didn’t we. We’ve still not run out of passion or belief. And we will never. That’s what makes me optimistic. And like it or not, we’re still “thirsteen to do kewl stuff”.

In the words of Martin Luther King,

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”

Thirteen years of welcomes and farewells — many came and went. Each one made a difference by being a building block of the culture we live today. Ideafarms was the opportunity many sought at the start of their careers. A stepping stone. And wherever they went, they did us proud. And continue to do so.

On that note, I thank you all.

Change starts here

Design Entrepreneurship - Humanising Technology for Social Impact

Sunil Malhotra

Written by

#Designthinking | Author | Generalist | founder Ideafarms.com + Cocreator #bmgen Book | #DesigninTech | Social Impact | #ExponentialTransformation Book

Change starts here

Design Entrepreneurship - Humanising Technology for Social Impact

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