Suresh Sambandam Once Sold His Innova to Pay Salary, Now His Software Company Offers BMWs to 5 Employees | Economic news

Years ago, Suresh Sambandam from Cuddalore in the coastal belt of Tamil Nadu sold his Innova car for just Rs 6 lakh to pay his employees’ salary.

Sambandam, which now owns the multimillion-dollar Kissflow software group, offered a BMW model 530D car costing around Rs 1 crore to five employees. Suresh believes that rewards should be offered to employees to retain and attract exceptional talent.

Another Chennai-based company, IDEAS2IT Technologies, donated 100 Maruti cars to its employees at a total cost of Rs 16 crore. According to IDEAS2IT Founder and Chairman Murali Vivekanandan and his wife and CEO Gayathri, the company is happy to give back to the employees, who have shaped such fortune for the company, what is rightfully theirs.

Born in a village of Cudallore, Sambandam did not even know during his student years that you had to pass entrance exams to be admitted into an engineering program. One of the colleges asked him for Rs 5 lakh as capitation fee.

He gave up his ambition to become an engineer when his father told him he would give him money for admission, but then their family would be in dire straits.

Suresh Sambandam, CEO of Kissflow Software Group, with employees.

Later, Suresh joined a typing institute. During the period, the first set of computers arrived at the institute. It was the first such example in Cudallore itself. Giving an additional Rs 50 on top of his Rs 30 fee, he enrolled for a computer course there. The development of interest in computers was a turning point in his life. Soon he created his own computer institute.

From there, he landed at HP Computers. Its growth is then phenomenal. Today, the Kissflow group is present in 160 countries and has more than 100,000 customers.

Sambandam and Hari Subramaniam, Senior Marketing Director of IDEAS2IT, talk to Manorama about the trends shaping the IT industry and the employee retention challenges IT companies face.

Suresh Sambandam, Founder and CEO of Kissflow Inc:

Once you have sold your Innova car to give a salary to your employees. And now you are giving away 5 BMWs to your loyal employees. Tell us about your journey so far?

Being a first generation entrepreneur, I had virtually no financial backing except for my ex-boss and mentor who supported me financially. In the early 2000s, I left a well-paying job to start a business with no savings to support my family in an emergency. There were times when my credit card paid employee salaries. And there was a time when I had to sell my car. And all of this had to be kept secret, otherwise it would affect employee morale. In the entrepreneurial world, the face of the founder is the barometer that employees look at to gain confidence. So no matter what problems you face, you have to manage and grow the business through the tough times. Belief in our mission on “The Democratization of Application Development, which is now commonly referred to as ‘Citizen Development’, is what kept me and my team going.

Suresh Sambandam celebrates with his employees.

What was the motive for giving BMWs to your employees? How did you come to this decision?

These are the five people who stayed with me in the trenches, through the ups and downs. Without them, Kissflow would not be what it is today. This is a small token of appreciation. I am happy to see them enjoying it with their families.

The recipients of the gifts were: Dinesh Varadharajan, Chief Product Officer; Kausikram Krishnasayee, Director; Vivek Madurai, Director; Adhi Ramanathan, director; and Prasanna Rajendran, Vice President.

Why did you choose the BMW car as a gift?

We did not give any BMW. We gave the 5 Series and that too the 530d M Sport edition, which is one of the top models that offers the best self-driving experience of any BMW. This places all of these people in a new social hierarchy. Not many people in Chennai have this version of BMW – most of the successful founders and managing directors own it. The recipients are on par with the founders of Kissflow and so we wanted them to be treated the same by the company, their friends and family. This is why we have chosen to give this model.

Tell us about the most intimate response you received from employees after the giveaway.

This news is now a national sensation. One of our employees (whom I don’t want to name) sent me this message: My mother was looking for a wife for me and until last week she was uncomfortable using the word Kissflow or saying to the families of future brides where I worked. Today, she proudly quotes “BMW Company” to the family of every bride-to-be she speaks to.

Do you think car donation is becoming a trend among IT companies. Many associate this with the amazing growth of the IT sector after covid. What is your opinion on this?

It’s not about cars at all. As a culture, we reward loyalty. This is a social statement to prove that there are BIG, if not huge, rewards for loyalty. When we talk about loyalty, we are not just talking about permanence here, it is permanence combined with contribution that is rewarded.

I’ve always been concerned about post-COVID attrition rates, especially “The Great Resignation.” Although it was not intended to solve this problem, I am happy that we were able to influence the mindset of many people towards choosing a long-term career instead of short pay rises. Initiatives like ours could potentially be pioneers. We have already seen another company do something similar to what we did.

Suresh Sambandam once sold his Innova to pay a salary, now his software company is offering BMWs to 5 employees

Employees with their families.

Do you provide similar gifts to other employees in future years?

We have always appreciated people who perform exceptionally well and those who have remained loyal to the company – this will continue. It’s part of Kissflow’s DNA. Just last month we held a mega celebration – the Kissflow Altius Awards – where we recognized the best artists of the past year.

IDEAS2IT Technologies, Chief Marketing Officer, Hari Subramanian:

What prompted your company to give cars to your employees?

We have been an employee-centric company since our first day in 2009. We provide an environment of trust, empowerment, opportunity, and many initiatives that meet employee needs. Our employees have returned the favor and helped the company achieve high levels of growth. Given this streak of sustained growth made possible by employees, we have implemented a wealth sharing initiative. Initially, Ideas2IT allocated 100 cars to 100 employees. That’s just the beginning. We plan to roll out more such initiatives in the future.

Why did you choose a car as a gift and how did you select the 100 employees?

It was also a decision of our employees! We shared our plans for launching a wealth sharing initiative and budgets. They researched various options and held several internal discussions. Then they came back to management with the idea of ​​assigning cars. In this first step, we wanted to reward people who have been in the business for 5-12 years (12 is the age of the business itself).

Suresh Sambandam once sold his Innova to pay a salary, now his software company is offering BMWs to 5 employees

Founder and President of IDEAS2IT Murali Vivekanandan with employees and their families.

What was the total cost of this automotive gift program?

Rs 15 Crore.

What advice would you give to other companies for rewarding loyal and hardworking employees?

I wouldn’t call that advice. I will just state the current scenario of the computer industry. The software industry is currently experiencing its greatest demand for talent. IT companies are all in the battle to attract and retain top talent. Companies are now responding with a wage war and continuing to fight. But companies that have taken care of their employees from the start are the ones that win this battle.

A good example is Ideas2IT: we have no problem attracting and retaining talent. Over the past 12 years, we have grown from 6 to 600 people. Over the past 4 years, Ideas2IT has seen 53% YoY revenue growth and a 37% YoY increase in employee strength. Our attrition rate is only 2.7%. Just to illustrate its growth, in 2020 the company was operating on 2 floors in a shared commercial building. On April 11, 2022, we inaugurated our brand new high-end office in Olympia Square, Chennai, where Ideas2IT will occupy all 9 floors.

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