Hyderabad: In the thriving Indian IT industry, where not too many ‘Made in India’ products can be showcased, Pramati Studio, a developer tool platform, a Java compliant product, first developed around 1999-2000 by Pramati Technologies, Hyderabad, stands out as among the early ones.
Started in a small office with a couple of desktops in Everest Apartments in the busy Ameerpet area (which later turned into a major IT training centre and route to US for aspiring techies) by the Pullur brothers-Jay and Vijay in 1998, Pramati quickly grew into one of the top innovation and ideas driven company in India.
The IT sector was in its infancy in those days in Hyderabad. Outside of the ECIL and a few electronics units it was Intergraph, Microsoft. Baan, OMC Computers etc. in the private sector that we’re growing. But, the Chief Minister, N Chandrababu Naidu was hard selling the city as an IT destination. The HiTec City complex had come up and lot of Non Resident Indians hailing from Andhra Pradesh, IT professionals from the US too were being wooed back with investments by the government.
Bengaluru on the other hand was the happening place and matured with fast growing companies like Infosys team led by N R Narayana Murthy, Wipro founder, Azim Premji and a huge presence of MNCs and electronics majors.
Why did the Pullurs who hailed from Mysuru choose Hyderabad for their entrepreneurial venture? Interestingly, Jay Pullur, who did his M Tech from IIT Kanpur in 1987 and brother Vijay Prasanna with a decade experience in Wipro Technologies decided to go the entrepreneur way. Jay was working in the Hyderabad office of Wipro during those years. Realising the unfolding potential in Hyderabad, they decided to launch their venture in the city.
They grew up in Mysuru, where their father, a Scientist was working with the Central Food Technology Research Institute (CFTRI). Jay did his B Tech in the National Institute of Engineering and went to IIT Kanpur for higher studies. The Pullurs brought their software development skills to drive the company with research focus and intent to develop technology products, especially systems driven one’s.
Those were days when India was emerging rapidly as the back end hub for global Corporates and IT biggies. IT enabled Services, Business Process Outsourcing etc. were the in thing. Pramati focussed on product development and worked on the idea of creating a platform business which was new in India and concentrated in Silicon Valley, US.
Being the first such company in India, Pramati (meaning of shining light), the company attracted Venture capital funding from Citibank Private Equity. This and the fast move into the newly emerging Java standards space, gave the company advantages.
It was with him, that I had the opportunity to interact with Jay Pullur, a couple of times during 2001-03, when Pramati was taking off and also struggling due to the Y2K impact and slow down and report about their contributions. Jay’s focus was on building ‘individual excellence’ of each employee. He believed that “It’s easy to convert cash to code. The challenge is to convert the code back to cash”.
In the next two decades, Pramati served hundreds of clients, diversified into different software development areas and emerged as a niche player with over Rs 100 crore turnover and five offices overseas. They had successfully weathered several ups and downs and had grown to over 1000 employees.
Pramati switched from a single product company to a multi-product company with each offering housed under a separate venture to create value. In 2012, Pramati acquired Gallagher Technical Centre and set up Imaginea, which would become their enterprise digitisation business unit. In 2013, they acquired WaveMaker from VMWare to focus on web and mobile businesses. It is present in cloud, data, intelligence, and mobility space.
Pramati also spawned a good number of entrepreneurs too. One of the companies called AppDynamics that grew into a unicorn, which was acquired by Cisco for a whopping $3.7 billion had its promoters start in the company.
On Sunday, Jay Pullur, the Co- founder and CEO, a soft spoken professional, motivator for startups and an employee friendly boss, in his late 50s passed away after prolonged illness. Recalling his association, Prof Ramesh Loganathan of the IIIT Hyderabad said he has left a deep impact and influence, his association with IIITH and the city’s entire startup ecosystem.
“Today we lost a fantastic human being who was a pioneer in the technology intensive systems products space in India. A person who had a vision to create serverside products from India in the 1990s. A start up, raised funding from tier 1 VCs, built a Java App Servers when Java was very new with grit, determination,” he recalled in a blog in IIITH.
Jay Pullur was low profile but active in the various IT organisations in Hyderabad like the HYSEA, TiE Chapter, Nasscom chapter etc and associated with IIIT H and the start up & entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Somasekhar Mulugu, former Associate Editor & Chief of Bureau of The Hindu BusinessLine, is a well-known political, business and science writer and analyst based in Hyderabad