‘True leadership lies not in creating followers, but in creating more leaders.’ The very core of leadership is to make an impact, leave footprints, and to pass on its eternal flame to the ones born from it. What good are leaders if exploiting people is their agenda, and what good can leaders not do when the power of positive persuasion is bestowed upon them? Coming to the kind of leadership that’s required to run a company right from scratch to glory, it could be safely said that Akash Agrawal, the Co-founder and CEO of Sahaj Software Solutions, is an ideal representation.
Akash has been in the IT industry for over two decades now and displays the same level of proficiency. He started his career with some of the major global IT Services Companies like HCL, Infosys, Aditi and ThoughtWorks. He started off as a Java developer and went on to do projects in the ERP space. Akash has played the role of Managing Director and COO for ThoughtWorks India and grew the company’s India operations from 250 people initially, to about 850 people by the time he left.
In 2014, Akash started Sahaj Software Solutions along with four of his colleagues from ThoughtWorks. “The idea of Sahaj was very straight forward, we wanted to create a company which is all about its people and tries to reduce exploitation of its people and clients. At the same time we realized that in the last 20 years, very little innovation has happened in the IT services space,” states Akash. Considering this as an opportunity, Akash and his team at Sahaj, used this opportunity to create a disruptive and innovative IT Services company, which came up with its own unique delivery methodology, backed by a strong people culture.
The Sahaj Software delivery model reduces wastage in software delivery by more than 50%. The company delivers complex technology projects and products much faster and with a minimalistic, but high powered technology team. Broadly, Sahaj is a premium technology consulting company and offers Custom Development, Product Design and Technology Advisory.
Sahaj takes pride in delivering simple solutions to complex business needs. Akash evidently comprehends that designing and developing a simple solution needs in-depth understanding of clients’ problems, the ecosystem, years of experience, knowledge of the best practices in order to come up with intuitive designs and technical choices, and finally like that of an artist, a knack for drawing the best solutions. All these requirements most certainly need a different set of people, and what better an example than team Sahaj?
The Sahaj team collectively has the experience of taking multiple start-ups from an idea stage to market stage in about 2-4 months. Such product design and development engagements start with a short 2-3 day discovery, ideation and product design exercise, followed by service / experience design going in parallel with development, managed in short iterations that are typically 1 week long. Each iteration ends with an evolving version of the working product, facilitating feedback at the end of each stage.
Sahaj helps its customers make appropriate technology and process choices. It also helps them define their technology roadmap for new business strategies, new product architectures in the evaluation of existing or new and innovative product ideas to assess the technical robustness of existing solutions. The company’s recommendations are based on years of collective experience, its passion for solving complex problems as a team and passion to find simple solutions.
Staying Inspired, Staying Successful
Akash’s goal in life is to keep learning, experimenting and building something that can inspire others. Whereas, his biggest source of inspiration is his partner, friend, the guardian of his values and mentor, his wife Nidhi. “She has been a perpetual source of inspiration for me. Her ability to keep fighting all odds, keep calm when in deep trouble, ability to think out of box and above all motivate people around at all times, has been the biggest inspiration for me,” Akash expresses. There have been times in Akash’s life when he felt lost or broken in his journey. His approach towards surpassing such times has always been going back to the drawing board and trying to rehash everything, and also the ceaseless support of his wife.
Success for Akash is not the growth of the company or the idea, but in the growth of people who believe in that idea. According to Akash, a leader is just not about the idea but more importantly about the people who believe in the idea. Akash knows, if the people who are on the journey have learnt, and grown then that’s success. “A leader’s best asset is the ability to influence and inspire others. If a leader is not able to inspire others then that’s job half done,” says Akash.
In his advice to the budding entrepreneurs, Akash states, “I am still in the learning process of entrepreneurship, but one thing that I can say is have an unwavering belief in the team that you build for your venture. Spend good time in making the right choices when you build the initial team. In my mind entrepreneurship is a team sport. Every member of the team has an important role to play in the game. And also play to enjoy the experience and not only win it.”
Concluding his perspectives and opinions on leadership and inspiration, Akash talks about the future roadmap for himself as well as his company. He says, “Ten years is too long a time. I believe in taking life as it comes. However, I do see myself helping young leaders and playing more of an advisor and a coach kind of a role in the years to come.”
Akash and his team of experts aim at redefining the entire premium software services space and establish Sahaj as the Market leader in that space. After establishing the company in India, US, now they are looking at setting up an entity in UK and also have Singapore next on the cards.