Thursday, July 27, 2006

TiE Event: The great Virsa story for Enterprise Software

If you are an enterprise software entrepreneur, the Virsa story will definitely warm your heart. In addition, if you believe humility, hardwork and intelligence should pay off you would have enjoyed today's presentation. The husband-wife team of Jasbir Gill and Kaval Kaur created and led the startup from start to acquisition by SAP.

Virsa: The company
Virsa is an enterprise software company that provides solution for Sarbanes-Oxley compliance for ERP applications especially for SAP. It also has a solution for other leading ERP vendors. Virsa was a consulting company specializing in SAP implementations. After Jasbir heard a customer complain about the cost of audit, he decided to venture into creating a solution for internal controls management for SAP. The company was always profitable due to its consulting revenue and as it shifted to a software vendor, it stayed profitable. Jasbir was the perfect raconteur as he told stories about how customers were pleasantly surprised at the low price of the software initially and how he & his company had little idea of how to price enterprise software. In doing so, he displayed one of the core values of his company (Virsa)- modesty. He spoke passionately about the need to have modesty while hiring the very best.

Virsa: The values

Here are some key principles we could all do well to learn from Jasbir Gill, Ms. Kaul and Virsa:
  • Be modest and open: There is a lot each one of us does not know and it only helps our credibility with customers, VCs, employees if we accept that fact.
  • Hire the best: Jasbir and his wife Kaval who was the CFO of the company interviewed every candidate and made sure they were getting a good cultural fit and not just a great resume.
  • Fire the worst: Jasbir said it best- "If you don't fire the bad people, what message are you sending to the best?"
  • Team spirit: Jasbir openly talked about how he was just one of the team and never tried to impose top-down thinking.
Questioning Success

The audience was clearly enamored of the panel and the Q&A session lasted for over an hour. Some questions revolved around how can one take advantage of the compliance and security market from consultants in the audience. Jasbir was asked to comment on work-life balance and he described how he always took out time to play basketball with his two sons and go for a daily walk. Ms. Kaul commented on how they had set just three priorities for their lives- the company, the kids and the health. Yours truly asked if VCs would learn from this experience and start funding more enterprise software companies or will they always chase success post facto? And Jasbir agreed that that was indeed the case and VCs looked for low risk proven success stories. Prashant Shah who organized the event and is a VC quipped later that other Virsa's in the audience that did not need the money could call him.

In all, it was a very interactive and interesting event. Kudos to the TiE team.

Links: Tom Foremski has a great article on Virsa here including how Ray Lane helped Virsa.


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