A growing Atlanta tech company whose steady rise started with serving the needs of U.S. companies from India now sees its future tied to the growth in the country.
In the next three years, Duluth-based Innova Solutions is planning to hire 5,000 more people within India, bringing its global employee count to 55,000 even as it cultivates specialized expertise rather than building larger, more generalized delivery teams.
The homegrown, 25-year-old company is also expanding in Europe, having completed the acquisition of Volt International earlier this year. Now operating as Innova Solutions International, the company is aiming to establish new delivery centers in Europe to complement its U.K., France and Belgium operations.
Formerly known as American CyberSystems, Innova got its start just before Y2K, when American companies turned to armies of cheap coders in India to ensure their computer systems didn’t crash when clocks rolled over at the dawn of the new millennium.
Both India and Innova have come a long way since.
ACS had built up revenues of $200 million by 2012, as Global Atlanta reported at the time. By 2015, it had hit $750 million, and Mr. Sardana said the company would wait until it reached $1 billion to start intentionally chasing international clients. Less than a decade later, sales have grown fourfold and now exceed $3 billion.
Raj Sardana, a mechanical engineer who started the company in the late 1990s while running an array of local businesses, now has an estimated $2 billion net worth — much of it tied up with Innova — according to Forbes. All three of Mr. Sardana’s children have roles with the family-owned company, which has grown organically as well as through strategic acquisitions.
About a year ago, the company hired Pradeep Yadlapati, a former executive from Indian IT giant Infosys, as its senior vice president and country manager in India, increasingly a source for both talent and clients.
“We do believe in India there’s a great opportunity to expand our brand and business beyond just servicing North America,” Chief Marketing Officer Todd Krugman told Global Atlanta. “We are well-positioned with a really strong workforce there servicing the U.S. that can also then pivot to service the greater market in India.”
Innova operates development centers in Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Noida, Pune and seven other smaller cities including Vadodara, Gujarat, These teams flesh out new group focused on AI/machine learning, financial services, data and cloud, health care, communications and other sectors.
Many verticals are now led by seasoned alumni recruited from CapGemini, Wipro, Virtusa and other leading IT consultancies.
“We have ambitious plans to invest and expand the business and create 5X employment in a three-year timeframe,” said Mr. Yadlapati in an August news release. “India will be at the epicenter of our strategy and help drive value for our clients through industry-specific investments and domain-centric, digital-first capabilities.”
This reorientation around specific industries should reduce reliance on Innova’s talent solutions segment, through which the company helps companies staff up for their IT projects. That was the primary driver of Innova’s business in the early years and is still important to its bottom line.
Its next phase of growth, however, will be focused on providing more “end-to-end” technology development and integration, said Mr. Krugman, who recently joined the company from Argentina-based software giant Globant.
“The strategy is in place; the people are now in place, and now we are starting to expand how we sell,” Mr. Krugman said.
Clients have been rewarding the company’s moves up the value chain with more business, he added.
“This great combination of having a deep bench of talent and customer-centric orientation has given us the confidence to be able to compete with any of the big players,” yet still at a competitive cost, he said.
Rebranding, Mr. Sardana said earlier this year, was meant to show that innovation “has always been at the core of our robust technology offerings.”
Funded entirely by sales, Innova is has no current plans to raise capital from private-equity investors or public markets. Instead, Mr. Sardana and his immediate family plan to continue owning and operating the company.
“He genuinely likes that. He believes that this is an enduring business, and there is no pressure to go public when he has bootstrapped this from literally nothing to $3 billion,” Mr. Krugman said.
More acquisitions, the CMO added, could be on the horizon as Innova ups its game to help clients — ranging from medium-sized companies to Fortune 1000 giants — embrace digital transformation and “operate as leaders within their fields,” the company said in the release.
While the Innova teams are spread across more than 20 countries, Mr. Sardana, a Georgia Tech alumnus, is committed to metro Atlanta: he recently moved into the estate built by the late entrepreneur and Aaron’s founder Charlie Loudermilk in Buckhead.
In August, Mr. Sardana delivered the keynote speech for the Healthcare Management and Informatics master’s program commencement at Kennesaw State University in July and the following month was named one of the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Most Admired CEOs during a ceremony at the Delta Flight Museum.