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Aug 30, 2012, 09.01 AM IST
On this edition of CNCB-TV18’s Young Turks meet Suhas Gopinath, the world’s youngest CEO who started his own company when he was just 14. He dropped out of the engineering college, and founded Globals Inc in 2000 to provide cloud technology to the Internet, e-commerce and mobile segments.
My biggest challenge was to convince people to take me seriously irrespective of my education qualifications or my age .
On this edition of CNCB-TV18's Young Turks meet Suhas Gopinath, the world's youngest CEO who started his own company when he was just 14. He dropped out of the engineering college, and founded Globals Inc in 2000 to provide cloud technology to the Internet, e-commerce and mobile segments. Globals Inc has tied up with both state and private schools to empower education in villages.
Below is an transcript of the show on CNBC-TV18.
Suhas Gopinath did not have an ordinary childhood. At 14, when his classmates were living the carefree life at high school, Suhas decided to work at an Internet cafe in Bangalore for free to get access to a computer and think up his business plan.
As a self-taught web designer, Suhas built websites for American SMEs and with the money earned, he started a website Coolhindustan.com. But when age began to get in the way of business, he decided to start Globals Inc in 2000.
The company had to be registered in Silicon Valley, as a minor cannot launch a company under Indian law. Initially focused on web applications and product development services, Suhas worked with startups in the US and Europe. While he has made it to the Limca Book of Records, Suhas' age has actually worked against him.
Gopinath: One of the hurdles, which I faced, was my age, Whenever I attended sales calls, meetings, CEO summits, seminars or conferences, people walked up to me and asked if I was accompanied by an adult. So, for a few years I was forced to sport a moustache to look older. My biggest challenge was to convince people to take me seriously irrespective of my education qualifications or my age and at the same time, of working with employees whose years of experience equalled my age.
In 2008, Suhas turned his attention to bridging the technological gap in education and the public sector, and bet on cloud computing. Currently, being used in 250 schools across India, Globals flagship product Educube automates educational institutes starting from a student’s admission procedure to his return as alumni. Globals Inc's newest innovation is a cloud-based telephony solution to reach out to village schools.
Suhas and his team of 150 capture real time data from schools and collate it for policymakers in state governments. The product aims at curbing teacher absenteeism, reducing student dropouts and allowing teachers to collaborate with their peers in other schools. Suhas and his team have also been responsible for automation of the mid-day meal scheme to enhance accountability and transparency.
Gopinath: We have worked with the government to automate the way anganwadis are operated and administerated. We have also been working with the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan to implement systems to ensure that the policymakers have access to fresh data from schools in villages.
Suhas' ideas attracted the attention of investors. In 2011, Globals Inc raised funds from two strategic investors- Encore Operating Partners and Commonwealth Education Trust UK. With a 100% y-o-y growth rate, Suhas claims Globals Inc is a multi-million dollar venture.
At 26, Suhas has received the Young Achiever Award by the European Parliament and the International Association For Human Values and in 2008, the World Economic Forum announced that he was a Young Global Leader.
Gopinath: When I started my company, I was recognised as the world’s youngest person to have incorporated an enterprise. I am also a member of the ICT Advisory Board of the World Bank. Recently, I also received the Social Innovators Award at the Social Innovators Park in Singapore.
Having proved the naysayers wrong, Suhas now looks to further innovate in education across other emerging markets and plans to tap markets in the Middle East, South Africa, US, Germany and UK.
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