• Business

I-Flex: RAJESH HUKKU/Bombay, India

2 minute read
Saritha Rai/Bangalore

Rajesh Hukku was on a sales call in 2000 trying to persuade a large European bank to replace its crazy quilt of back-office software with his product. An executive gave him an unusual brush-off, telling him the bank’s system was so complex that only God could figure it out. Hukku, the chairman and managing director of Bombay-based i-flex solutions, made a deft save. “Sir, we are Indians,” he said. “We are very religious, and very close to God.” Hukku won the business. Now he’s trying to pull off another miracle: making his company the first Indian software producer to establish itself as a global brand.

India exports $9.5 billion in code annually–but almost all of it is written under contract for such mammoth outsiders as Microsoft. Hukku, 45, wants to change that. I-flex, which began as a separate business in 1988, sells a range of products under its Flexcube label that help financial-services companies manage banking, credit-card and other transactions. It’s a competitive field, dominated by firms like Temenos and Misys, but i-flex has customers, including the American Stock Exchange, in more than 90 countries. With fiscal 2003 revenue of $134 million and 2,370 employees, Hukku’s company qualifies as one of India’s 20 largest software companies–and the only one to market its own product. “The Japanese and Koreans make good cars and sell them worldwide,” Hukku says. “We Indians make sophisticated software. It is time for a ‘Made in India’ brand.” –By Saritha Rai/Bangalore

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