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The Disruptors – Taking a New Spin on Offshore Software Development

The morning was quite windy but cheerful in Melbourne, Australia that day. The campus of La Trobe University was bustling with the humdrum of students from all parts of the world. A suave youngster Dharmesh Shah, a Gujarati from Kerala was sitting in the library. He was going through some books when he heard a husky voice whispering, “Hi, Are you from India?”. As he glanced in the direction of the voice, he saw a pair of brown eyes and cheerful face crinkling with a bright smile. “Yes, I am from India,” he replied. “Myself Shantanu Dublish, originally from Meerut”. That moment was the beginning of an everlasting bonding between two brilliant persons. They both were students of MBA in International Marketing at the La Trobe University and had a lot of things to share. After finishing their studies, they worked in Melbourne for many years. Quite ambitious by nature, both wanted to explore entrepreneurship.

One day sitting in a coffee shop in Melbourne they took the decision to pursue their dream of becoming entrepreneurs. Mobile applications with innovative features were in demand so they decided to launch one for the Australian market. As a cost-saving strategy, they decided to outsource the mobile app development to a firm in India. Shantanu called a firm in Delhi, and they finalized the features they were looking for.

But in contradiction to their optimistic approach, it was a harrowing experience. Every time they called for enquiring regarding the progress, they were given flimsy excuses. The Delhi-based company not only delayed the entire app development process but also multiplied the cost astronomically over a period of time. Ultimately, they had to hand over the project to another firm based in Bengaluru. But very alarmingly they again had a similar bad experience. This new company delivered a useless app after wasting a year and a half of their precious time.

Dharmesh was quite perturbed due to the disturbing experiences. He called Shantanu and in a depressed voice said, “India is the favorite and most famous outsourcing destination. But if this is the kind of service clients are receiving then what would be future of this Industry.”

“Whatever happens, happens for the best. When one door closes God opens another door,” said Shantanu. He was also quite disturbed, but he didn’t want his friend to know about it. Their dream was not materializing. So, he called his father and told him about his frustrating experience. “Why don’t you start an IT company in India and provide memorable and commendable outsourcing experiences to overseas companies?”

He was struck by the brilliant advice and called Dharmesh at once saying, “Why don’t we transform the tarnished and low-quality image of outsourcing companies by providing world-class IT services from India at an economical cost.” “So let us go ahead,” Dharmesh exclaimed.

Both Dharmesh and Shantanu packed their bags and moved back to India in 2008 and started their IT company named Optimal Virtual Employee ( in Noida. The incubation period was quite tough. They spent many sleepless nights planning future strategies. “Hiring was tough as most brilliant software engineers preferred to join a large company like TCS and Infosys rather than a small startup. It took a lot of convincing to hire smart engineers. We incentivized them with work from home facility, flexible working hours, etc. to attract the best possible talent,” says Dharmesh.

One day while they were pondering on the future of their establishment two of the engineers whom they had approached earlier walked inside their office. “We are ready to join your team,” they said in a chorus. Their ideologies had worked, and they started to get favorable response within a short span of time. Owing to their flawless experience of marketing, the founders did not face much trouble attracting international clients. However, convincing clients about excellent quality remote software development was quite tough as most of them had burnt their fingers in the past dealing with low-quality Indian service providers.

“Patience and hard work is the key to success,” said Dharmesh. Ultimately, all the excruciating work bore results and the company started to grow. Their challenge was to keep the clients satisfied with their excellent development work. Being operational for more than 11 years, Optimal Virtual Employee has attracted large companies in North America and Europe. They have started to offer services in new technologies like AI and blockchain too, alongside usual ones like dot net, ruby on rails, full-stack development, data science, and PHP. “There is a growing demand for new technologies like AI and we are set to get first-mover advantage in this space,” said Kartik Sharma, the IT head of the company.

Currently, they have offices in Australia, the U.S.A, and the U.K. The founders are quite exhilarated with the growth. “Along with fast growth, we want to ensure there is no lack of quality in our delivery. We were the pioneers of virtual employee model in India in 2008. Now we can see that the demand has steadily grown huge with large companies hiring virtual employees and remote working getting popular. Our model can also be called e-employee, like everything is e these days,” said Shantanu.

With success of the IT business, Dharmesh and Shantanu decided to diversify their business. They ventured into BPO, launched a lifestyle brand for kids called Scoobies, and also ventured into manufacturing and loyalty businesses. They have finally reached the epitome of success.

With digital transformation taking over the entire world, especially after COVID 19, the Optimal group sees a bright future ahead. The biggest challenge will be to scale the operations without compromising on quality services offered by the company to its clients.