Sunday, December 20, 2009

On winning Srijan 2009 Technology award for Vortex

"If you are a technologist and if you wish to be taken seriously, you must wear jeans and t-shirts to such events", said a friend at the venue, pointing to the dress worn by a very young CTO of one of the companies competing for the same category award. And there I was, dressed formally to the teeth - tie, suit and all, and feeling nervous as this was the first time I was handling anything like this in an official sense. Every other contesting company had sent in their CXOs or Directors - would they take Vortex lightly for having sent in someone "junior"?

My conscience told me that the jury would not have any such prejudices, which I realized to be true once I started making my presentation. Twenty minutes for the presentation , ten minutes for Q & A, I was told. I took the extempore route, and blurred the lines between Q & A and the presentation.

Questions were mainly on scalability, growth potential, impact of other  competing/complimentary ICT, etc. Based on Gramateller's lower initial investment requirements and lower running costs the jury could be convinced that our ATMs were the best bet to address the need of 1 million ATMs (1 ATM per 1000 people) - whereas the current penetration is less than 5% of the need at 45,000 ATMs.

The presentation I had prepared had patriotic overtures playing up the fully indigenous aspect of Gramateller, about we Indians believing in ourselves and having the guts to take on a market dominated by two huge MNCs - turned out to be interesting to make to a jury having 2 out of 3 members from outside India!

The 24 hour wait for the results was the toughest part. As the main event drew to a close, I felt increasingly like a schoolboy awaiting exam results. From the moment we knew we won, I was in a daze - walking up to the dias and receiving the award from Vijay Mahajan  - all went by as a blur. "We are buying two of your ATMs, that's my award to you", quipped Vijay Mahajan.

Then I spoke two lines - a poor semblence of an "acceptance speech" - my first one in my life, coming at the most unexpected time!

(details of the award at and

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