Indian IT product companies learning to cut big deals in global arena

Geeta Nair Posted online: Thursday, Dec 26, 2013 at 0000 hrs
Pune : Around 458 deals were done in Silicon Valley where 31 large IT companies bought out smaller product companies last year. Out of these, only one was from India. Autodesk acquired Hyderabad-based Qontext. At the same time, around 85 companies from Israel were bought out last year.

iSpirt, or The Indian Software Products Industry Roundtable founded by a group of 30 Indian product companies, wants to change this statistics. They want more and more product companies from India to figure on that list. iSpirt believes that if Israel can have 85 companies, Indian can have more than that.

A think-tank that seeks to promote Indian product companies, iSpirit was set up in February 2013 by the group after they felt that the existing bodies did not do justice to their challenges, which are different from the large established IT services industry.

There is already a buzz about Indian product companies that are going to be acquired by larger US global IT brands such as Facebook and Twitter. iSpirt founding members, Sharad Sharma and Anand Deshpande, acknowledge talks are going on and it is too early to make the announcements. “Lots of discussion are happening and this will lead to deals. It will happen next year,” said Sharma.

Deshpande wants to see Indian product companies make some real good money as that will be a good trigger to fire the whole product development landscape in India. “Return on investments is important from an entrepreneurs’ point of view, so exit is important,” says Deshpande. Sharma says they are playing the role of a catalyst so that good companies get help in finding an exit. By end of the year iSpirt will have an investment bank as a partner in this initiative.

Deshpande said 2014 will be a make or break year of iSpirt. “Big deals will provide the right boost.”

iSpirt had taken a group of Indian software product companies in May 2011 to showcase them in Silicon Valley and connect them with people handling mergers and acquisition at large companies. Close to a dozen companies has been short-listed by iSpirt as companies that had the best potential to be taken over by Silicon Valley companies.

Young entrepreneurs and their product companies have been put through sessions on how to position their companies for getting acquired. One such session, iSpirt Product Nation Boot Camp, was organised in Pune. Jay Pullur, founder and CEO of Pramati Technologies, and Sanath Rao, corporate business development (emerging markets) at Intel in India, gave tips to start-ups on how to sell product companies out of India.

While Pullur is a veteran in the Indian product company ecosystem, Rao is a potential buyer in the market as he looks at M&A for Intel.