When Murthy decided to kickstart a tech venture in India, he received many offers to settle down abroad. He was also aware of the fact that India hardly had a tech market. That couldn’t budge his decision though. He was very clear that he wanted to cater to the tech industry in India. He co-founded the company with his 6 other friends. Since the market was not big enough, they would have to look for foreign clients in the initial stage. He was pretty sure the Indian market will soon onboard the IT wagon and bring about an economic uprising.
The road to that future was not smooth. Murthy and team tackled each challenge head-on with dedication and patience.
For starters, they didn’t have a computer! Computers were in their early phases of evolution, much like Infosys. It took you anywhere between 15 to 24 months to get one. Although Infosys started its journey in 1981, the first computer at the company was installed only in February 1984. Likewise, it took them a year to get a phone connection in Bangalore. There was no way they could keep the company up and running without a telephone connection, given that most of the clients were from outside India. When it comes to getting a telephone connection, businesses were even behind retired government servants in the queue. All this forced Infosys to ship the team out, much against their will.
Things took an upturn by the early 1990s. But then, it went down the hill again.
Infosys had offers for acquisition which many suggested Murthy should consider as the company wasn’t making much progress. Despite Murthy’s confidence in the company, the team was adamant that they should move forward with the offer. So, Murthy decided to do what he had to do. He announced that he was going to buy out Infosys.
“I know it’s going to be tough in this country but I have no doubt that we’ll see light.” he said with conviction. Murthy’s quick response shook his team. They stood by him.
“From now onwards we will never discuss the issue of closing down, getting tired, or giving up. This marathon will be restarted.” They collectively agreed.
The rest is history.
“Leadership is about making what seems impossible, possible; about changing the perception of what reality is. The reality in India is dirty roads, pollution, bad traffic, etc. Reality is what we make it; it is for us to change. If you give confidence to people they can achieve tremendous things. We have run this company as professionally as any other corporation in the world in terms of the principles of corporate governance, in not using corporate resources for personal conveniences, with respect for the professionals.” says N. R. Narayana Murthy, the recipient of Padma Vibhushan (2008), Legion of Honour (2008), and Padma Shri (2000). Now he serves as the Chairman Emeritus of Infosys.
Failure is when you stop trying. No matter how poor your background is, the burning desire to achieve will take you where you want to go. Narayana Murthy’s story reminds us to dream huge and work hard for it. He will be a role model for generations of entrepreneurs to come in developing countries like India. If you have what it takes to endure setbacks and failures for a larger vision, you don’t have to explore foreign territories for opportunities, your country will take you to new heights.