Always Go Against The Tide’ – Amit Patel Of MySetu

clip_image002This is exactly what the MD and CSO of MySetu professes and is himself a live example that it works. Amit Patel is an entrepreneur with very humble beginnings. From a small town Nangelkhada, 100 kms from Rajkot to Mumbai and across the world this man has travelled far & wide and changed the way security was perceived in India. When we talk of security here we are talking about environment and sustainability via the IT way. So basically his company MySetu develops a suite of web-based applications that provide all key functionalities that are essential to build a world-class Environment Health Safety & Sustainability (EHS&S) and Total Productive Maintenance EIS. Setu’s core focus has been saving and improving life of workers in plant/factory. And it is the only company in India to do so.

A post graduate of BIS from Melbourne university, Australia; Amit has spent more than a decade in the industry trying to reform security and environmental issues overlooked by corporates. But the journey hasn’t been easy. ‘I travelled to Australia to do my post grads in BIS on a scholarship. I was always adamant that I didn’t want to spend my parents hard earned money on my risks and ambitions, says Patel. He wanted to do it on his own. But as parents are scared and concerned…he was married off and packed to Australia with a new wife, lots of ambitions, pretty less money and the pressure of settling into a new culture. It was tough initially but things started falling in place when one of his professors’ got him a part time job in the university and his wife’s hobby turned into a full time job, giving them some money to meet their ends in the far-away country.

However, the arrival of their first child brought them back to India. Once here Amit didn’t know where to begin but was sure that he wanted to get into the software line and that a 9-to-5 job was not for him. Coincidently around the same time he met an entrepreneur who wanted to start an NIIT franchise. And Amit was more than glad to help him. After a year though he had saved enough money to start up something it wasn’t even close enough to start an IT firm…so he decided to continue what he had been doing. He set up the second NIIT in Gujarat, at Vapi with the name Setu Infotech Pvt. Ltd. “Actually that opened doors for us. We were imparting IT training to fresher’s as well as professionals. And it was at the same time I was introduced to Hindustan Unilever (HUL). They were running a program where their employees were being imparted IT training and our NIIT franchise was providing t to them in their preferred language, unlike other institutes. I was told they were appointing DuPont as a partner and I knew if I wanted to enter the industry I had to meet the IT head of HUL. After many efforts I was finally able to meet them and share my credentials. Probably luck favoured me because after a few discussions on my ideas they agreed to give me a few projects for building security software for their company.” And then there was no looking back. After completion of a few projects they were handed over contracts for their other industries in Vapi and things started shaping up.

Today, MySetu handles the complete HUL account as well as accounts of most of the biggest companies in India. So from the Tata’s to the Birla’s, HUL’s to the Saint Gobain’s, MySetu provides its services to all. From the moment you enter a company/plant to the time you exit the premises, everything you see happening via IT and technology is provided by MySetu.

We spent some very valuable time with Amit (AP) and had an excellent conversation about the company, the challenges he faced and what the future beholds.

Pi: Why the name MySetu? It’s very different.

AP: Setu is a Sanskrit word for bridge. Since the beginning I was very clear that whatever I will do in IT it will bridge the gaps. So the word Setu…all our products/modules act as a bridge between the company, the employees and various institutions. For example we bridge the gap between labours and the company by giving them automated data of what’s happening in the plant, security concerns, lapses, accidents etc. On the other hand we bridge the gap between industry approved associations and the companies by giving them details about various compliances, sigmas, global parameters etc filling the gap between what they really need and what are the parameters to achieve them.

Pi: What were the bottlenecks you faced while setting up MySetu?

AP: One of the biggest challenges I faced was informing and making people aware of IT and their needs for the technology. People used to tell me that I was crazy to even dare to do anything on security technology. They used to tell me…You are nuts if you are trying to inform companies about security hazards and compliances. Grow up..think something else…try e-commerce. But I always preferred to go against the tide. If everyone is doing something similar I will not join the bandwagon.

Another challenge was that since Government laws and regulations were not that strong with regard to health and security, compliance and sustenance companies also didn’t think it was necessary to adhere to international trends. For them it was if why do I need these services? Human intervention is enough.

Pi: Given the kind of technology development and the plethora of services you provide the MySetu team must be very huge. How do you keep employees motivated?

AP: (Laughs) I am not sure if you really want to know our team size…we are only a 16 member team. 11 are technology guys based out of Vapi and the rest 5 including me are based out of Mumbai. The Mumbai team is more into strategic planning, research, business development and client servicing.

Talking about motivation all my employees are entrepreneurs in their own capacity. We do not believe in an employee-employer relationship. I am more of a mentor to them and I want to see each of them grow and take care of all modules as separate business units in themselves. Infact we do a lot of programs where there are exchange of ideas, thoughts and challenges to the way forward.

Pi: What does the future behold?

AP: The future seems to be very bright for MySetu as well as the industry as a whole. We have 50+ plug-ins and we have signed one of our biggest deals with an Indian major to implement the complete set of modules for them. Also we are expanding our portfolio to include more modules in Total Productive Maintenance EIS and working with big corporates on the same.

In the last couple of years, the company has grown at a rate of 100 per cent YoY and is targeting an even bigger growth in the next quarter and the next financial year. Also apart from large organizations and enterprises, we are targeting SME’s in power, petroleum, energy, FMCG and manufacturing sectors. We are moulding ourselves to become more of a product company.

From an industry point of view it’s a big relief to see the Government taking an initiative in areas of Environment Health Safety and Sustainability. With this Indian companies come at par with international bigwigs and security standards. Apart from that the growth of industry associations, both national and international, has raised EHS&S standards and new parameters are coming into play. Also e-governance will have a big part to play in it.

Pi: What is your advice to budding entrepreneurs?

AP: Entrepreneurship is a challenging shoe to get into but with lurking frontiers. You can’t afford to be scared. Think different…go against the tide. If you have faith in yourself and your product you are deemed to do well.

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