Sunday 19 May 2024

Letter to my colleagues

May 20, 2024

Dear colleague, 

You may have seen from the financial results for the year ended March 31, 2024 that IRIS is now in the 100 crore club. Also, in 2024, IRIS completes 20 years in business.  Next Saturday, we will celebrate both milestones, with staff and ex staff,  and friends.  You must come with family.  We have invited all of our service providers and everyone who has helped us come this far.

You may wonder if the achievement of 100 crore in revenue is such a big deal for it warrant any hoopla. What is so great about  completion of 20 years, you might ask. Both are huge milestones in the history of IRIS. Allow me to explain why.  

I am not embarrassed that it has taken us 20 years to get to Rs 102 crores. Someone drew a parallel with Sunil Gavaskar's 36 not out in 60 over at the 1975 Cricket world cup. I can live with a Gavaskar comparison. Because, by the time he retired, Gavaskar had scored over 10000 runs in 125 matches at an average of over 50 runs per inning over a 16 year career. Fantastic stats that. 

At IRIS, we have laid the foundation to launch the next phase of our growth. With a mere Rs 23.5 crore of external funding, including the Rs 16 crore IPO, we have come this far. Today a Series A round is seldom less than twice that amount. I cant think of many companies that have done as much as we have with as little. So if we took 20 years to get to Rs 100 cr, so what. We are still standing, aren't we? We make a difference to the lives of over 2 billion people. सोचने से चक्कर आता है | Knowing that we have served over 6000 enterprise clients across 52+ countries gives me a heady feeling.  No hyperbole this. 

Those who have been with us for long know that as recently as 7 years ago, we were on the brink. Since then we have grown our business fourfold and profitably.  I am over the moon with how much we have achieved.  And with so little. 

To amuse myself, I thought I would see how we compare with other listed Indian companies. Data on tells me that 2324 listed companies have a higher turnover than us. That is half of India's listed universe. Of these,1654 companies turned in a Profit after tax higher than us. When I add return on equity into the mix, I am left with just 451 companies. If I add balance sheet parameters and compare these 451 companies ahead of us, we look even better. If I consider leveraging by looking at the debt equity ratio, I am left with just 194 companies. And finally, when we factor in Current ratio, I discovered that the number of companies which beat us on all of these metrics is just 134.   And to think that we are just getting started. 

i don't aspire for IRIS to be the world's or even India's biggest company, but I do want us to be cherished by investors.  I do want our products to be sought after by discerning clients. Our products are Made in India for the world and i want us to make our country proud with best of breed world class offerings that can compete on the world stage and hold their own against anybody. The Rs 100 crore mark is an opportunity to pause and reflect and to return refreshed with renewed vigour.  

Let me turn now to the 20 year milestone. Independent studies show that the survival rate of new firms after six years is around 40%.  If you are going to fail, it is best that you fail early, venture capitalists will tell you.  We could have shut shop a long time ago. But we chose to stick it out. The work we were doing and continue to do is too important for us to consider any other option. As Founders we took pay cuts and pay deferrals. Many of you made sacrifices. We stayed on, knowing that just as good times don't last for ever, bad times too don't last for ever.   

What does the future hold for all of us at IRIS ? I am hugely optimistic. we will grow by selling more and selling to more.  Today, our flag flies high in some 52 countries leaving another 141 for us to enter. We serve over 6000 enterprises, that needs to increase that manifold. We need to deepen the relationship with each of our customers, be they regulators or the regulated. 

Every successful business has a purpose. Ours is to create a safer and healthier environment for legitimate money to move freely, safely, securely, respecting country laws. The calling we answer to is to make the world a more transparent place for business to operate in efficiently. 
Our vision is grandiose. IRIS is 4 businesses rolled into one, feeding off one another.  Each of the businesses is a multi billion dollar opportunity and we have not even begin scratching the surface.

We still don't have sufficient resources to execute on our vision. But I am confident that we will be able to attract primary capital given how far we have reached and given how efficiently we deploy capital. 

Our next  company wide celebration should be when we cross Rs 500 cr in revenues. I hope we can get there before Balu, Deepta and I move on.  

Thank you for your attention


Friday 17 May 2024

Badrinath diary


We visited Badrinath earlier this week. We were a party of 6, including my frail 90 year old mother in law. We travelled to the temple town by helicopter from Dehradun and stayed overnight in a hotel in Badrinath.

On the day we landed in Dehradun, we heard rumours of trouble brewing in Badrinath. Concerned family members called, worried for our safety, after having watched news from Badrinath on TV.   After talking to a few locals, we decided to go ahead. And we are glad that we did.

If there indeed had been trouble in the days before our visit, there was no evidence of that when we were there. The yatra was uneventful.

The test of any situation is when it has to encounter something out of the ordinary. The visit of a 90 year old would certainly count as being out of the ordinary. As a fellow pilgrim remarked, my 90 year old mother in law was probably the oldest on the temple premises on the 2 days we were there, the vigraha aside. We were concerned for her safety and seeing the teeming crowds, even more so.

It seemed as if the presence of my mother in law was noticed by the entire administrative machinery who threw a protective ring around her to ensure her safe movement whenever she was on the temple premises. From the ITBP on duty to the temple authorities, they were all hugely supportive and to each of them we owe a deep debt of gratitude. Within the temple, the staff sprang to action, offering her a stool to sit on whenever she wanted and clearing some floor space for her if she chose to squat on the ground. They were attentive to her comfort while going about their routine duties and not for once did we have to worry about her safety and comfort.  It was not one person who took care of her, it is as if everybody was chipping in.  The system worked. 

Our early morning visit to the Tapt Kund was also very uneventful.  A gracious Ravalji even found time to meet my mother in law and seemed to be suitably impressed to learn that she  knew every Ravalji from the time she first visited Badrinath in the 50s. 

We had heard rumours that pilgrims were not being allowed to carry mobile phones or that there was a ban on photography, both of which turned out to be false. All 6 of us carried our phones with us and we even took photographs outside the temple to share with relatives elsewhere who would otherwise have been worried.

While we did not avail of VIP access, we had tickets for every Arati which may well have made it somewhat easier for us than it is for  the pilgrim who has to queue up for hours to get in. But in this respect, the situation that prevails in Badri would not be dissimilar to what obtains in any other temple town in the country.

I do have a suggestion for the local government and the temple authorities. Given the amount of construction and renovation going on, which I am told is part of a master plan, crowd flow needs to be regulated. Because of ongoing construction, the passageways in many places are narrow, causing logjams that could throw up safety issues. The authorities may wish to think of ways to control the crowd flow.

That bit aside, I must say that  the authorities, both government and non government, are just fantastic, doing not just the bit they can but stretching themselves to the hilt to provide pilgrims comfort and a good darshan of the Lord.

Jai Badri Vishal. 

Letter to my colleagues

May 20, 2024 Dear colleague,  You may have seen from the financial results for the year ended March 31, 2024 that IRIS is now in the 100 cro...