Success story of Suhas Gopinath

A CEO when he was in his teens? Suhas Gopinath, founder of Global Inc., attributes his entrepreneurial success to his never-say-die spirit.

It was probably a co-incidence that a huge billboard of the film “The Social Network” stood tall above his office but, minus the lawsuits, Suhas Gopinath could be considered a local Zuckerberg. It does not matter that he does not have a degree, because Suhas is the CEO of Globals, an IT company he started when he was a gangly teenager with a powder moustache.

“I started working to buy myself a computer, and I wound up with a company,” says Suhas, who comes from a middle class family that believes business is for those who are poor at studies and who have no other choice. “I have always been impatient and aggressive; when I want something I have to get it. It’s this drive that has helped me achieve most of what I have,” he says, admitting that he picked up his leadership skills on the job.

Suhas started his career in an Internet shop; he worked there and also designed websites for Western companies. “They underestimated my capabilities. To be able to prove yourself you need to have the appropriate educational qualifications, and I had not completed my engineering,” says Suhas, who still holds Bill Gates as his muse.

Unfazed by failure

Another thing that motivated Suhas was failure, “I just got more aggressive with failures, but I was never afraid of taking risks. I went with the flow and never questioned my abilities,” he says. He started when he was 14, along with his friend who is in the U.S. We operated out of his flat there. In fact, it was the Western companies and the media there that recognised me initially and helped me move ahead.”

Luckily for Suhas, he could cross the seas sitting in his Internet café in Bangalore. “We did most of the work virtually, besides building solutions to help people minimise travel,” says Suhas. About how he tried to catch up with academics, the self-professed workaholic who has survived on less than four hours of sleep says, “The time difference between America and India worked for me because I would attend classes during the day and work through the night.”

Suhas, however, does not queue up outside elite institutions to pick the cream of the lot. “We do recruit from institutes such as IIMB, but for our research and development, and engineers, we do not focus only on the big names. As long as they have the skill set and practical knowledge, it is fine,” he says.

For the technologically challenged, Suhas and his team build applications for Facebook, iPhones, Blackberry and Android phones. They also develop web portals and auction sites and engage in other such technologically advanced activities. “We are now focussing on the bottom of the billion, doing extensive work to improve the education and healthcare systems in Africa and India,” says Suhas, who claims that if he were not CEO he would rather be a veterinarian.

“When I started out, I devoted all my time to work, but I paid the price, I lost out on friends and fun. Which is why I try my best to minimise my workload on weekends these days,” says Suhas, whose last vacation was over a year ago at Bandipur.

For someone who did not know the meaning of the term ‘entrepreneur’ when he started out, Suhas has come a long way. He sailed through the recession without even a bruise, in fact, turning it around to his advantage. He scaled up his operations in Europe, while the rest of the world reeled under the crisis. He now serves on the board of the World Bank and has been recognised as a young global leader. Next on the agenda is marriage. “Now, that I have established myself in my career, my parents feel I am ready to get married.”


Inspiring story of Suhas Gopinath, World’s Youngest CEO at 17 yrs

At a seminar on ‘Education System in India at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, last year, a boy dressed in casuals stepped out of his car and entered the gate. He is stopped by the security personnel: “This event is only for CEOs, you are a college boy.”The boy smiled, picked up his cellphone and soon a whole swarm of organisers arrived at the entrance to usher him in.

But then we really can’t blame the security. Even the wisest of men probably wont guess that the 17-year-old Suhas Gopinath can be the CEO and President of a Bangalore-based IT solutions company, Globals Inc. Suhas had actually been invited as one of the speakers at the seminar…

“Because of my age and looks, I often land in embarrassing situations and do not know how to handle the confusion,”says a candid Suhas, who is currently juggling is corporate life with a BE in Information Science at the M.S. Ramaiah Institute of Information Technology. He owns a car, bought out of his earnings, but doesn’t have a license to drive it around the city as he is too young to get a license! As a CEO, he wraps up mega deals, but cannot sign on the dotted line as legally he is not yet an adult.

His is a story of a pastime turning into obsession. As a student at Air Force School in Mathikere, he frequented a cyber cafe near his home. “I was overwhelmed by the world of Internet. It became a passion. Though my parents were completely against it, I would spend hours before the computer. My elder brother Shreyas encouraged a lot. I learnt HTML, ASP and every possible software at the cyber cafe,” recalls Gopinath.

On May 14, 2000, along with friends Clifford Leslie and Vinay M.N, he floated his own “I did not have the money to start. My parents refused to give my a penny, saying it was not worth it. So I wrote to Network Solutions Inc in the US and they readily agreed,” he says.

Suhas, really had ‘IT’ in him. In August, the same year, he set up Globals Inc, a web solutions and n e t wor k i n g company, with a team of four. Now, he has 350 employers, offices in 11 countries, and a turnover of $1 million this year.

“Initially we offered the services for free. As most of us were studying and were very young to actually run the company, many clients were not keen on us. But after seeing the work we delivered, they were impressed. Lot of them in fact still are very encouraging,”he smiles.

At the Bangalore office, there are more than 15 full-time software engineers today. How does he deal with employees elder to him by many years? “Most of the people who work with me are between the age group of 17-19 yrs. I treat them as friends first, than act like a boss. So the job becomes much more easier,” adds Gopinath.

But it’s a stressful life, he admits.”As I got more interested in the company, my studies went for a toss. In my Class X exams I scored 80 per cent, but in I PUC could barely get 65 per cent. Even here I try and not bunk too many classes, but clients cannot be given lame excuses. When I have exams, I tell them I am unwell…” he is candid.

A few years ago ……

  • He buys a car but wouldn’t drive because he had no license.
  • He, as a CEO, successfully accomplishes a deal but wouldn’t sign the contract !!
  • He even grew his Mustache to camouflage his student looks

Success comes with a price and Suhas has understood the importance of it. “At times, I repent that I am not a normal boy, enjoying a teenager’s carefree life. Most of the time I am forced to wear blazers and I am always nervous-about work or studies,” he says.

While most others of his age are rolling balls down a bowling alley, he is charting the road map for his company. “We are planning to start management consultancy in the industry sector as well. There are plans to expand our services to non-IT areas by next year,” explains Suhas.

But ask him what’s his message for to-be entrepreneurs and he’s cautious.”I don’t think I am mature enough advise others, but if you have it in you, go for it. One should also make time to enjoy other things in life. With work, you get too busy to even repent,” he adds.

Mr. Gopinath was announced as a “Young Global Leader” for 2008-2009 by the World Economic Forum, Davos. In that position he would be involved in development programs across the world, including in a leadership program. He is reported to be the youngest YGL in the World Economic Forum’s history.