From making chicken curry for Sergey Brin while studying at Stanford University to co-founding Nagarro, a software services company that currently employs over 16,000 people in 30 countries, Manas Fuloria has come a long way. In a crowded market dominated by big companies like Accenture and TCS on the one hand, and software-as-a-service start-ups on the other, Nagarro has carved out a niche for itself in help customers become digitally-driven, innovative businesses. Activity area spoke with Fuloria, CEO and Co-Founder of Nagarro, about his journey so far and the way forward. Extracts.
How do you deal with attrition and talent war issues?
There are a lot of things we do, we call it the Nagarrian experience. And those things have really helped us keep attrition at reasonable levels. Our attrition has increased by a few percentage points, but it’s not crazy, we’ve continued to hire people and salaries have increased, but billing rates are able to take care of that.
The majority of your current employees are in India, are you seeing an increase in hiring in other geographies?
We are hiring a lot in the United States and we are increasing our workforce. In fact, we made a few acquisitions with a presence in the United States. We think that because we were part of this German group, we neglected the United States a bit, but now that will change. We’re trying to make sure that we think about the next 10 years as the business scales and we want to focus on more hires in the US and Europe. In Europe, we have nearly 1,000 employees in Germany, 1,000 in Romania , 200 in Austria and around 100 in the Nordic countries. We added about 2,000+ people in the first quarter itself globally, which also includes some acquisitions. We expect to hire another 3,000 to 4,000. We will end the year with approximately 5,000 hires net of attrition.
What is your long term strategy
Our strategy is to be a household name that will outlast us. We have a long way to go. Our objective is twofold. One is to have business success and a reputation. The other objective is to create a company which stands out for its organization and which is more humanistic. And also more agile and enterprising internally. It is very encouraging for us to have a dozen nationalities in our management group. Our mission statement has always been to eliminate the distance between people. We want to see if this humanistic idea around which we have built our business can do more in the next 10 years to affect this type of thinking in the countries in which we operate. It’s an early thought, but it’s very, very important to us because we’re inspired by people like Elon Musk who say humanity should be on Mars and then build a business around that. I think humanity should put a lot more emphasis on the humanistic aspect and a lot less on the labels that we have.
Will M&A be an important aspect of your growth strategy?
We’ve made over a dozen acquisitions over the past seven to eight years, and we’ve now built a complete machine to vet potential targets, identify the right cultural fits at a reasonable price, integrate them, and then leverage contractors we get. They also become co-founders of Nagarro. This is how we operate. And so, we expect that to be at least 25-30% of our growth rate in an average year.
Do you see yourself building this business for the next 10 to 15 years or at some point you will grow out of it?
We are here for the long term. We want to build a business that will survive us. We are not looking for an exit. There’s not much else we’d like to do that would be more fun than that.
What is really exciting for you in the space in which you work?
The most exciting thing is the consumerization of enterprise software. If you go to Facebook or Amazon, it will understand who you are. It contains data about you, displays relevant content, and tricks you into viewing messaging outside of your primary domain.
In the company, within the companies themselves, we are totally blind. We email everyone saying “dear colleague”, without any sense of personalization. How do you really connect people within a company? How to enable them to inform themselves, to democratize the information of the users? How do you remove a management layer by simply replacing it with information passed to the person? How do you align the culture of the organization through these nudges so that if another company does it, they do it in a different way?
We do it ourselves at Nagarro, and now we sell it to our customers. The system, which we call ‘Ginger’ internally, and now we’re also using it at a university to improve student experience and learning outcomes. That to me is the most interesting thing, because that’s basically the point of contact with the individual that social media uses, that e-commerce uses, but that we in our businesses don’t not use at all. And then the next step is to use this platform to connect people with causes they believe in, NGOs that work on causes, to kind of interact with the outside world, which is part of the vision in 10 years of Nagarro.
How do you view all the regulatory challenges around data privacy and localization?
This is a real risk for our service industry. I think India should largely adopt the European Union data guidelines. It should just join the European Union on data, because the European Union is a conglomeration of several countries anyway. This will give us a huge head start, in terms of our Indian IT services industry, but also in terms of geopolitical standing. It therefore cannot be misinterpreted as protectionism. It’s then, you know, part of a global effort to make sure that basic privacy, basic security issues, etc. are supported.