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18,000 People On The Bench At Infosys

Posted on Sunday, Jul 26th 2009

“[The] problem is, all of these initiatives are expensive. If the global economy doesn’t bounce back in a year or so, India’s outsourcers could find themselves saddled with legions of employees who have little to do. Infosys offered jobs to 18,000 college graduates last year and plans to hire more this year. But with scant work to give them, the company is doubling the length of their training to six months and assigning them mock projects to hone their skills. Though that’s not cheap, Infosys says it’s worth the investment.”

Read the full article here from Business Week: India’s Outsourcers: Using the Slump to Get Bigger.

I can’t help but wonder what these 18,000 people are doing! Are any of you out there who can enlighten us?

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Well some of us are working hard on our dreams to become the next gen of innovators in India. But of course, outside Infosys.
It is just silly to hire more folks.

Trex08 Sunday, July 26, 2009 at 9:00 PM PT

Is this the situation at Infosys only, or other outsourcers are following a similar strategy?

Sramana Mitra Sunday, July 26, 2009 at 9:11 PM PT

well ‘some of us’ is a like finding a needle in a haystack. Rest all are involve in doing internal work and most of em nothing. I beleive that most other in the tier 1 are doing quite decent to keep their folks occupied.
But yes the means are similar.

There are some good things happening in Infy too like making business cases coming from the bottom up. But those are also handfull and wiithout proper market research and sales backup nothing comes out of it.

Trex08 Sunday, July 26, 2009 at 9:28 PM PT

[...] columnist and tech blogger Sramana Mitra who I follow on Twitter wants to know what these 18,000 people are doing while on the bench? Of [...]

18,000 people on the bench at Infosys - On The Job Monday, July 27, 2009 at 3:04 AM PT

I know of a famous outsourcing company who is currently hiring a lot of people from the market. They claim to have got lots of domestic outsourced projects.
Basically many MNCs which are cost-centres for their parent company are implementing or looking into outsourcing to service companies like Infosys.

Fazal Monday, July 27, 2009 at 5:55 AM PT

Well, to those who are frustrated on the bench, I have a message:

Read.

Read and learn about entrepreneurship.
http://www.sramanamitra.com/2009/05/20/best-entrepreneurship-books/

Start noting ideas about what may be a venture you want to start on your own.

Listen to the roundtables. Come pitch your ideas.
http://sramanamitra.com/entrepreneurship-strategy-roundtables

Do not waste your time.

Develop yourselves.

Sramana Mitra Monday, July 27, 2009 at 10:52 AM PT

Thanks for the advice and I have already started my journey. Will get in touch soon for the round table.

But I still believe in India entrepreneurship is the most risky career path for the typical middle class Indian boy who is trying to make big. The overall ecosystem to foster entrepreneurs is bad, hardly negligible seed stage funds and worst no mentorship.

We are groomed in our education system to be content with a job in companies like Infy, Wipro et al. These companies have absolutely no interest in playing on your strengths and are purely business driven. They are cocky as there is no limit on the talent flocking to get a job. They make folks like me so useless that I have no option but continue in Infy because I really can’t go anywhere else.

My point being that the overall system to support the fostering of entrepreneurial thought is still lacking in our country and it is frankly an illusion that India is geared to be next SME hub. Although, I believe we have the potential.

I also think that companies like Infy can take 200 people out of the bench strength and invest some of its millions of cash reserves to do some R&D product etc. Not only this will help Infy to be move into space where it can separate itself from growth dependent on the number of people it hires but also help foster spirit of product development which would help shaping India’s Entrepreneurs.

Just some thoughts might appear cynical

Trex08 Monday, July 27, 2009 at 11:37 AM PT

Is this also the opinion of your peers at Infosys?

I’d like to hear from some more of you, to get a first-hand feel, so if you can ask some people to reflect on this, I’d appreciate it.

Once I’ve heard some more voices, I will respond to your comments.

Sramana Mitra Monday, July 27, 2009 at 11:46 AM PT

Maam, my comments might be exaggerated on the part where they make you useless (although I think they are true).

I will try to redirect some traffic to your site, but I can speak for about 40 – 50 folks I know who have left Infy for Masters or are still here.

Trex08 Monday, July 27, 2009 at 12:02 PM PT

Well, if you guys have a pay check coming from Infosys, not much to do, and presumably a computer with internet connection in your hands, you should form small teams of your own, and start working on your own entrepreneurial ventures.

In September, my Bootstrapping book will come out in India. Read it. I keep harping on the fact that you should try to bootstrap, and not raise money. And here, you are telling me that you have a pay check to finance your bootstrapping phase.

Work in this mode for 6-12 months, pull something together – a business plan, perhaps a prototype, perhaps some prospects, perhaps even some revenues – and then you can leave to do it full-time.

I am sorry to hear that 40-50 people – young people like you – have such a negative, hopeless approach to life.

Take control of your destiny, otherwise Infosys will control it, and it will frame you in splendid mediocrity all your life.

Sramana Mitra Monday, July 27, 2009 at 12:44 PM PT

Sramana, I am not sure how intellectual property rights work in India but I think you should mention that if these small teams were to use Infosys equipment to work on their entrepreneurial ventures, Infosys could claim a right to whatever they produce.

Reminds me of Mattel’s case against the creator of the Bratz line of dolls.

http://articles.latimes.com/2008/dec/04/business/fi-bratz4

Asif Monday, July 27, 2009 at 4:58 PM PT

Good point, but for years and years, entrepreneurs have figured out how to get around these problems.

Sramana Mitra Monday, July 27, 2009 at 5:30 PM PT

Well here is something that I hear everyday ‘MEDIOCRITY’

Maam, with all due respect most of us here are just that. Infy after 2004 has been hiring approx 2000 folks a quarter and most of us here are trained in say .NET and given a testing project or trained in Java given a maintanence project. Folks like me either perish or do the next best thing get an MBA (having no clue why to get one).

Well so to say I am big fan of your achievements. I am bootstraping with a friend but not while working in Infosys. Yes I will read ur book

Just to add, If we start to use Infy resource to create anything it belongs to Infy if we keep it secret, our appraisals are screwed and eventually kicked out.

There are ways to get around true. But believe me for people less than 5-6 years of experience which would make 75% of the company are divided in three major categories.

Majority, Want to stick to the Mediocrity tag enjoying a job that pays their bills and pays off the EMI for buying a house, by either working in Infosys or some other IT service company. Some of them burning out realising that Engineering and IT is not their thing after getting an Engineering degree their parents forced upon him/her. Only way out go get an MBA.

And Lastly the handful others, who do some serious introspection about their career and what they wanna do about it. I am glad to be in this category so planning my own venture.

Well, I do want to add Infy is not all that bad too. The first category does have alot of dedicated bright minds making lots of money. Infy is the best among the other breeds like TCS etc in terms of Managing human resource.
But, I still think the huge hiring spree by the Indian IT services company have made the young bright minds to choose their path blindly and not answer their true inner calling.

Trex08 Tuesday, July 28, 2009 at 12:39 AM PT

How old are you? Who has drilled into your head that you are mediocre?

Mediocrity is a state of mind. Snap out of it.

I don’t find your dialog here mediocre. I sense that you are listening to your inner calling, and despite your cynicism and frustration, you are trying to reach for something more.

That, my dear, is not the imprint of a mediocre mind.

Sramana Mitra Tuesday, July 28, 2009 at 9:19 AM PT

Thanks for the kind words Maam. I have done some serious introspection and I am moving forward with my plans and hope to get your opinion on the future round tables. And Yes I am bootstraping.

But, the point I wanted to make was that even though the sunshine sector of India IT services has done great things it is certainly a big reason which is holding back Indians from unleashing innovation.

Trex08 Tuesday, July 28, 2009 at 10:04 AM PT

Will it help people if Infosys does what some of the other companies are doing? That is doing a round of ‘performance’ based layoffs?
I thought Infy always have around 30 – 40% people on Bench. Don’t have a link to prove these numbers though.
I have recruited people from Wipro who came to me and said they don’t mind working with lesser salary as they are not doing anything currently for last 8 months. This is not a recent event. This happened in the year 2006-2007 when there was a mad rush for ‘talent’ who can understand the business requirement if somebody explains well and deliver code following some given design and standard and best practices with less number of bugs.
I don’t see any big issue in what is happening now. I really appreciate Infy that it is not asking people to leave and maintain that bench. The irony is as soon as the market rebounds and other companies start recruiting people who are given salary being on bench for so long instead of a layoff decision from Infy management will go and join those companies.
The rule of the game is very straight forward and I appreciate people who play the game with straight face without denying the ‘game’. I think effort to do something new or entrepreneual is beyond only a brain exercise. There is nothing like I am thinking of doing it BUT you know I have some issues I am trying to resolve and thinking what is best blah blah. Though at times the split personality helps people keep their cool.

I don’t want to sound negative here, but everyday we loose 24 hours.

Santanu Tuesday, July 28, 2009 at 11:47 AM PT

Santanu,
I am not bothered by Infosys so much as I am bothered by the kids who are on the bench, and how they are spending their time.
As you say, with every passing day, we lose 24 hours.
Sramana

Sramana Mitra Tuesday, July 28, 2009 at 12:51 PM PT

Sramana,

Nice discussion going on here.And I am looking forward to your book release in India.Hope it is priced reasonably :)

Indian IT companies have always had between around 15-20% bench strength.If Infy or TCS have around 100,000 employees, it is natural for them to have at least 15,000 people on the bench at a given time.

Having worked for over a decade with one of these IT majors, I can tell you that even during the boom years, we had targets related to billable Vs non-billable resources at each centre.The Centre heads are responsible to show at least 90 % billability of available resources.People going through induction training are not included in this count. So, if we add all the figures, out of 100,000, there will always be 5000-6000 people getting trained, and another 15,000 waiting for projects/ in between projects etc. The model is such that the enormous labor arbitrage covers all this wastage.

Coming to the ‘resources’ themselves, unfortunately, most of them can’t think of leaving their jobs unless they are fired.They will hang around the library, try to learn some programming now and then, or simply make multiple rounds of the cafeteria.Most Indian IT companies severely restrict internet access to the junior employees.

Yes, we need to be bothered by the kids on the bench.Multiply 8 hours with around 100,000 engineers (bench strength of top 8-10 companies) and it is a staggering 800,000 hrs a day getting wasted.And I am not counting the cost of infrastructure for all these people (the transport to/from work, the ACs, the computing power wasted and so on).

Sadly, we can neither make the IT biggies see reason and allow these youngsters to do some thing creative while on bench, nor inspire the youngsters to think like entrepreneurs.We should, but I donno how.

Kumar Wednesday, July 29, 2009 at 4:50 AM PT

FREE TIME = CONNECT WITH WORLD OUTSIDE INDIA

Kumar, I think I understand your point about “inspire youngsters to think like entrepreneurs.” I spent 2 years in India advising prospective entrepreneurs, IT employees customers etc. I realized that the market for innovative solutions, especially IT-based offerings, unfortunately does not exist in India. On the other hand, the early adopter countries like the US etc. are willing to try new things. If you want to be an entrepreneur you have to either (1) know or anticipate what the customer wants OR (2) create something truly revolutionary that you can market to the customers (e.g., social networking (too late now), digital photography (way too late or is it ???) etc.).

The best way to know the customer is to spend time with the customer. If you are located in India my suggestion is to make friends, either by spending actual time overseas or use online means (hey, figure out a way to use Facebook or MySpace or whatever to get to know people OUTSIDE INDIA – they are customers who would be willing to PAY for your offerings). One of the problems I noticed in India is an INSULAR (i.e., ignorant and unwilling to learn about the world outside India) and ARROGANT attitude among a lot of the youth. If one is willing to shed these attitudes and get to know the world outside India, aspiring entrepreneurs will surely benefit. Even if one is not an aspiring entrepreneur one will win by adopting an open, humble mind.

Good luck – there is a world that is hungry for new and better things – my suggestion is to spend time with that world – you will absolutely come out ahead.

Shankar Saikia Wednesday, July 29, 2009 at 8:11 AM PT

Sramana, Great discussion and thanks for mentioning it over our conversation earlier this morning…

However radical it might sound but I don’t think the employers like, Infy are doing anything wrong… They are in business to make money and they are doing what their business acumen is directing them to do… they are keeping these kids and waiting for the dust to settle, hoping when the market comes back they will deploy and bill each and every one of them… So, it’s a gamble for them.

My question is to the kids on bench. What are you doing there? What are you building? How are you developing a career sitting doing nothing? What are you waiting for (except client assignment)?

I know a lot of such bench folks first hand and here’s my thought: There are two types of people, one who are happy to see a paycheck at month end and question, if I’m getting paid sitting on bench, why bother? And then there’s the other type who wonders if I don’t have anything to do, what am I going to do?

By the way there’s a third type, or unique type or hybrid, or whatever you may wanna call but this is the most dangerous one, they are extremely smart talking and would talk talk you in how their idea is going to be google’s daddy and they writing business plan and meeting VCs… When in esence, they would only be found playing cricket, in a big parking lot…

It’s not just India, its everywhere… It’s all about the mindset, I’ve many friends here in US (employees of small IT consulting firms) who were basically brought as “highly skilled” labor but their consulting firm who proved them so valuable and got an H1B fails to market them effectively and these sharp minds sit on bench for months, some for over a year…. It’s sad to see how un-motivated they are and how content they are with a shared accomodation and little or no stipend… They wait for 6 months or more only to get on a client project for 3 months… Its really sad. What’s more unfortunate is that there’s no awakening… I’ve personally offered some advice and solid contacts where some of my bench friends could have utilized their skills as a team member in a start-up, but the question always was “what would be my billing rate?” and that’s where the deal fell because the startups were looking for a partner and some sweat equity and not employee…

Out of 100s of such bench employees who I have met and shaken hands with, I know only 1 guy who really was the other kind, he has put together a team and is working on a web-startup. Irony, even he couldn’t have his bench friends (who he initially was counting on) help him, his team today comprises of fulltime employees except him, who is still happy on bench.

Anyhow, to make long story short, I’m firm believer in the theory or principle of “if you want something done, give it to a busy person”. And that theory really applies here as well, the folks on bench have just too much time to do anything…I have seen more busy employees who are motivated to work on their business and development after a long day of hard work at day job than the number of entrepreneurs or at least folks who would give it a shot, I’ve seen on bench. Life is just too good to be disturbed at bench… (Yes, please read the sarcasm, which is only to awaken the youth, you’re wasting)

Devesh Wednesday, July 29, 2009 at 2:01 PM PT

Very Interesting discussion. I think this is as much an individual motivation problem of how I spend my time when on bench, but more a leadership problem as well. I love the idea of small innovative teams of 30-50 people formed to bootstrap and create something. I have a thought on this. Why can’t I bootstrap for Infosys as well. Here are some thoughts:

* Form teams to list all the problems that Infosys project teams are facing in live projects going on around the organization. Prioritize them based on how they are affecting the project/customer, customer satisfaction, quality, timelines
* Organize a focused small team to work with the project team to help in resolving problems
For example, I have seen problems due to performance, scalability, defects, integration which require teams to spend considerable amount of time.
* Form centers of excellence for various new technologies or business areas and start a small community to develop solution and product ideas to present to Infosys management. Develop clear goals and ensure these are funded (as per Sramana’s bootstrapping idea) and be able to run a small business within Infosys. Leadership within Infosys can then take any vetted solutions to market with help of these teams

Overall, I think it will be a question of time before the economy turns around. These bootstrapping or even internal projects can be used to identify and bring leaders among the 18000 people. I am concerned, without adequate harnessing and igniting the young people who came with dreams, we will have a problem.

Appreciate you bringing this up, Sramana

Regards-Raghu

Raghu Wednesday, July 29, 2009 at 4:16 PM PT

Sramana, I do believe that you are a very good consultant, but like most of the other very good consultants, you have a very rigid mindset towards what you percieve is correct vs incorrect and you refuse to change it no matter what.
I have occasionally followed your posts and you seem very persistent in doing two things – bashing Indian tech companies while praising their MNC counterparts , and treating services business like dirt (of course you do like SaaS I know).
Now on the first point, let me tell you that bench is an intergral part of a service business. I can tell you that the MNCs that you love currently have even bigger bench strength in India and also in developed markets.
Let me say that again if you missed it. Services businesses currenly need to have bench strength like a product company need to have inventory, now be it low end grunt job services (as you like it) or high end consulting services, whether it is in India, or the US or the UK. Obviously it takes little maths to understand where a company would like to keep a majority of its bench strength.
That is the nature of service business. Please acknowledge this once :)

The whole world is having a not so good time, and it is obvious that companies 1) will not give raises, 2)cut costs fiercely 3) have some people unutilized or 4) lay them off, depending on what suits them best. Now each of these 4 points is obviously not percieved very employee friendly and are sometimes very harsh indeed but I guess that a company which is not doing any one of these things currently is on Mars. So why harp only on Indian tech companies?

Of course what it does to your website is that it has a large and predictable audience that will increase the visitor count, and leaves their email ids for you to use which is a good thing for you now..isn’t it?..I know how we thrive on sensationalization these days.

As for service business vs product, please try to understand and acknowledge that both are two different businesses, but both are businesses nonetheless. And service is increasingly becoming precious to your favorite IBM these days, due to reasons I will not explain here, but it means that increasingly they will have bigger bench strength due to the nature of that business. They do and they have to, because they cannot make the machines run overnight to “produce” ‘human resources’ when the next project comes up suddenly.
In the meanwhile the bench resources are free to crib, curse, train, learn, quit or read and respond blog posts. Of course companies do plan to engage them on some things, soe of them are good, some of them not so good, but coming up with breakthrough inventions everyday takes a bit more than simply “putting $$$$ and assigning resources to some R&D”.

As for harping on migrating to SaaS, which indeed is a good idea, there are still some teething troubles for SaaS, and that is why there is no big bang that you see in this area. Rest assured when it starts becoming that much viable and feasible, you will see more companies (yes, including the Indian tech ones) doing more of it. Just that the time hasnt come yet.

Now the next thing which you will want to talk about is about the labour arbitrage and how it is soon going to vanish but that is so much obvious isn’t it. As long as there is labour arbitrage, you would find people to work for lower salary, when it goes away you will see the same thing happen in India what is going on right now in America and the other developed world. Evils of capitalism and globalization, free markets et al.
But then you don’t blame the developed countries for their high costs, do you? So why blame India. It again is playing to the market dynamics.

No boom lasts for ever but I would say that does not mean that we start glorifying the idea that “the end is nigh”, so much so that we end up wishing it upon us.

Gaurav Thursday, July 30, 2009 at 1:05 AM PT

Of course, bench is an integral part of a services business. I am an experienced enough business person to know that. Please don’t state the obvious.

But I am concerned about the impact of 18,000 idle minds sitting around and sucking their thumbs.

That’s what this post is about.

Sramana Mitra Thursday, July 30, 2009 at 8:49 AM PT

Sramana, I liked these two sentences of yours

“Take control of your destiny, otherwise Infosys will control it, and it will frame you in splendid mediocrity all your life.”

“INSULAR (i.e., ignorant and unwilling to learn about the world outside India) and ARROGANT attitude”

I could not have agreed more with this. I am in IT field and worked 8 years in India and last couple of years in US.
What you said about ignorance and unwilling is very true especially about the students who pass out from he college.
They think that they have achieved something extraordinary by completing engg and MCA and should be hired by best companies.
Dude , how many of you have done a project or done some coding (do not talk about small programs you write for projects). If this is not true , there would not be so many companies giving experience in “live projects” and making money.

Talking about starting something or doing on own, it is very difficult because
Reason 1: Do not want to come out of comfort zone
Reason 2 : Want to leave coding and become lead or manager as “Coding” is shitty job
Reason 3 : There is not vibrant community around these people . The biggest motive of young professionals is how to go overseas.

I had myself been in that situation so I can understand it much better.

I also agree with Sramana on Boot strapping. People in US had very easy access to funds so they think it is their right to get a cheque before they start a company. Same mentality is creeping in India also where they cannot do anything without funding

I have been working on 2 products of mine out of my regular job.
Developed
http://www.geekevaluation.com
http://www.skill-guru.com

I work 8 hours to work for someone else. Come back home and work for average 2-3 hours every day on something I love i.e these products. I have hired a person and paying from my own pocket for last 1.5 years to work on this.

I may not become a millionaire with these products but at least I will live learn something and would not ever regret of not having trying something

For all those people who are sitting on bench and have nothing to do, join a open source project and start contributing.
We are always willing to get things for free and hardly contribute to open source community.

vinay Thursday, July 30, 2009 at 2:39 PM PT

Bravo, Vinay. I love your attitude.

Sramana Mitra Thursday, July 30, 2009 at 2:41 PM PT

I just want to ask one question before moving on to the topic of this post: Bench is an integral part of how IT services are being run till now.But is that the best way? That is some thing I hope the service companies (Indian and MNC) look at and innovate.

Regarding the 18,000 idle minds, I think we are bemoaning the attitude of the majority.As Vinay pointed out in his comment above, most of them don’t want to come out of their comfort zones.They are getting their first salary checks in life, and they don’t want to do any thing risky. They are waiting for the ‘recession’ to end.For the majority, the only knowledge that matters is – which technology/programming language is in demand (in US), and how to get one of those jobs.

I don’t think the situation will change because there are hundreds of thousands of these youngsters coming out of colleges every year.The fault lies with the educational system as much as with the IT service providers.

It is more productive for concerned individuals (like some of us here) to look around for techies with entrepreneural passion, and work with them on ideas.

In the past couple of years, I found two such people.One of them went live with his site (www.taxshila.in) recently and is looking for first round of funding.The other one started off well with his information security firm, even got funding, but facing issues with the VC.

The VC industry in India is big on talk, but doesn’t deliver to the needy entrepreneurs unless the startup is well connected with the VC’s peers.While I can’t blame the VCs for this scenario (they are following the rules of the game learnt in the US market), I feel that unless there is a dire need for a platform /channel that can work with the VCs and these entrepreneurs and create some success stories.

If we have a few success stories, there is a possibility that among the 100,000 bench resources, at least a few thousand will get inspired and try to do some thing.Else, we will be talking about the eco system for years to come.

Kumar Thursday, July 30, 2009 at 10:34 PM PT

My “obvious” points were raised because of the obvious question that you asked. Again you are also experienced enough to know the answer to the question that you raised. Then why coax cribbing?

Well indeed I had stated the obvious, but again my point was about why only an Indian MNC? Is it because of one of your persistent beliefs against some companies vs others that I stated earlier? It seems so.

Do you think other global companies in the same space don’t have bench?
Or are you using Infosys just as a metaphor to address a wider issue – about idle minds – a problem that is pervasive throughout the world? If it is so, even then it is not correct ..isn’t it.. makes the other companies seem like saints while you single out one article about Infosys.

If some people on bench have great ideas, initiative and self motivation, they do not need your obvious question here to realize that they need to do something. They would not come and crib here. They would be chasing their ideas.

And for “what the idle minds are doing sucking their thumbs ” – I will only bring back a line from what “obvious” I have stated earlier –
“In the meanwhile the bench resources are free to crib, curse, train, learn, quit or read and respond to blog posts. Of course companies do plan to engage them on some things, some of them are good, some of them not so good…”

As Vinay has pointed out above, the bench people need to take some initiative like he did – If they think they have enough time on hand (for which they are also getting paid for by the way) , they can do so many things if they want to. Or choose not to do them.

But they can not really prove anything by crying out on blog posts about their miserable situation, about mediocrity (which again is an excuse for the situation), neatly blaming someone else for their inaction …can they?

If they have better ideas, then do it. Don’t cry. No one will give brownie points for crying. No VC will fund them because they feel they can do something better and hence are crying about it.

If they were not sitting here idle , then still they would be sitting idle at home sucking their thumbs if they wish. But then who would be there to take the blame?

Gaurav Friday, July 31, 2009 at 12:17 AM PT

Gaurav,

Yes, Infosys is a metaphor for other companies where there are lots of people on the bench “sucking their thumbs”, Indian or MNC. I only had numbers for Infosys, and if you know anything about writing, you probably know that to be able to make a point in a powerful way, you need to be concrete and you need to personalize. In any case, that is how I write.

And since this is my blog, it is my privilege to address whatever issue I feel strongly about.

My intent was to engage with people sitting idle anywhere in the world – whether it is on the bench with a job, or out of work, waiting for a job to fall on their lap from heaven.

My message to them – something I have been relentlessly championing – is to take destiny in your own hands, and explore entrepreneurship.

My message, if you know my work, has never been to ask people to cry or crib. It has always been to get people to stand up and do things.

You seem to have some anger and frustration bottled up inside you. I am not sure why you have chosen this venue to vent it.

Sramana Mitra Friday, July 31, 2009 at 8:45 AM PT

Sramana,

About an year back, I had also spent 4.5 months on the bench happily playing games and checking and forwarding emails as our senior managers drew a very bad picture of the situation although I was actively searching for a job as I had figured out that it would be a shame to get trapped in such an industry that doesn’t require anything close to what I have to offer.
Anyway, now that I’m close to start something on my own; I stand out of the crowd. At times, I do get disgusted at the general attitude in the office which comes to work every day with appraisals and onsite opportunities in mind. Trust me, that’s all they live for!
Nextly, I find the concept of ‘Billing’ very demeaning as it doesn’t make us any better than daily wage laborers. It’s amazing how a couple of American dollars can buy out trucks of educated Indians who would lend themselves to such a system that treats them on a simple use-n-throw basis.
Above all, all such companies easily give in to the whims and fantasies of the clients no matter how unreasonable it might seem. The employees aren’t any better. Most of them simply lack the balls to stand up and question/demand their rights as at the end of day, everything is tied down to your appraisals and onsite opportunity. What’s most appalling is the fact that none of these companies are even willing to do any research based work!
Finally, I’ve come across articles where they tend to compare the employees of Goldman Sachs and Infosys in one bracket!! It gives you a good laugh…
I’ve taken to your line of thought- to stand up, liberate yourself and do more. Even a failure would be in everyway better than what I’m doing today.

thenomad Sunday, August 2, 2009 at 9:50 AM PT

Well current estimates say 37000 people are on bench in Infy…

Trex08 Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 12:18 PM PT

Do you have numbers for the other outsourcers? I wonder what’s the total volume of idle capacity in the system right now, and I also wonder what % of them are actually thinking creatively about their future.

Sramana Mitra Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 2:57 PM PT

Well, at the other end of the spectrum there’s an entrepreneurial revolution happening : http://www.nenonline.org/

Another very good idea is to study further: an extra couple of years spent in an environment of focus and difficult/advanced/big ideas is empowering and liberating …

Satpreet Friday, August 7, 2009 at 8:47 AM PT

Stop cribbing.

Build your own company…

Time was more tough when NR Narayan Murthy founded Infosys, more hard then todays recession.

If you have guts, try doing at least 2% of what Infosys has done, instead of cribbing about recessions, layoffs etc..

PS – I dont work at Infosys, nor I look at them for my future. The more we Indians depend on outsourced american jobs, the more we will face the hardships of recession. We need Indian product companies, not solution providers..

Good Luck.

Harshad Joshi Sunday, August 9, 2009 at 5:13 AM PT

[...] Some of you may have followed a recent discussion on my blog, 18,000 People On The Bench At Infosys. [...]

Bootstrapping: Doing More For Less at VentureWoods - India's leading venture capital community Friday, August 14, 2009 at 9:47 AM PT

I recently quit my high paying MNC job to start working full time on my web startup. ( Note : I am not from web/programming background) I had conceived the idea about a year ago and had got the prototype up with my own money and some outsourced work (coming out of my paycheck, ofcourse). In Jan 2009, I put together a dedicated team ( all of whom have day time jobs) since I realized outsourcing work didnt work for me.

When I quit my job, we had not yet clocked our first revenue.

Why did I quit my job?

a) I was fed up with it. More than work, People around me did not excite me. I did not want to end up as any of my managers.

b) I said to myself – worse comes to worst , the startup will fail. I will lose XXX money. Thats the downside. But the upside : I would have atleast delivered a product to the market. I would have learnt how to build a product , I would be forced to find out how to market a product. I did not and still dont know sales/marketing. But I am learning…

c) I finally accepted that I am most likely going to fail but I was ok with it.

I think we in India make too much noise that startups are very risky. If you can save/spend some money and burn some fat to build your own product , it is probably 10x-100x return in terms of your long term skill development. Even if your product utterly fails , it is worth it.

We have made our product Alpha Live recently and started clocking our very first sales. Needless to say , we are very excited.

Bipin Saturday, August 15, 2009 at 12:19 AM PT

Bipin, I totally agree with you. I used to work with one of the Indian IT biggies few years back. I was fed up with the people and mediocrity floating around me . All they wanted to do is play games, fowarding mails, and finding ways to impress their bosses. It’s very difficult for entrepreneurship to thrive in this kind of environment.

Sramana, I agree with your point to make a team of 40-50 people and work on something building of your own but believe me for finding even one like minded guy, you will have to be the subject of fun of 50 others. That’s what our education system has done to all the young minds. All they care is about onsite opportunities and nothing else.

Other thing , I would like to make a point is you can utilise these non-working hours while being in day job till you are developing/coding for a product. For gaining market insights, selling it, etc you need to go out and meet people. You just can’t do that at night and on weekends. So, I believe risk is inevitable.
Moreover, what you can do in 1 month as a full time you can’t do that even in 6 months while keeping your day job.

Also, I think this applies to software products only. What if somebody wants to get into some other line??

Anshul Saturday, August 15, 2009 at 11:40 PM PT

Why do you need 40-50 people? In Silicon Valley, we routinely see 2-3 people hack together internet applications and build businesses out of them.

And no, I disagree that you need to go out and meet people. You need market feedback, yes, but you can very easily do that online using services like LinkedIn, Facebook, Skype, Skype Video, etc.

As to software versus other lines – the vast majority of these people only have experience in software. So rather than trying to do something you don’t know anything about, why not focus on what you do know about? Something that leverages what you know.

Excuses. All excuses, Anshul.

Sramana Mitra Sunday, August 16, 2009 at 8:42 AM PT

Sramana,
I went through all the comments and it’s an interesting discussion. In fact, I’ve seen more than couple of occasions, you tried to belittle indian outsourcing using Infosys as a metaphor. Let me say this, I worked for Infosys in the past and I had the similar perspective as you pointed out and had moved out of Infosys. But still I have a great respect for that place and I agree they might be in a wrong business but as an organization they will put many MNCs to shame.
Now coming to employees on bench. Don’t worry about it’s just a phase and everybody will move on in life within or ouside Infosys. If you have so much concern and empathy towards people in this world becoming idle, please worry about people who do not get their paychecks and are sitting idle. There’s plenty of them in US itself. Please look outside of silicon valley.
Did you know there are thousands of americans and foreign nationals in so called MNCs across US who are paid hefty dollars but are least productive when it comes to work and that’s why an Industry called outsourcing was born. As a strategy consultant did you ever ask CXOs to ignite those idle minds who only worry about golf, beer, lawns and pets. Think again??

Venkat Sunday, August 16, 2009 at 10:24 AM PT

I don’t think you know my work, so your comments above are unduly accusatory and inappropriately insulting.

I am one of the strongest advocates of people without jobs looking at entrepreneurship as an option. Anyone who reads this blog is well aware of that.

As for outsourcing companies, they did an excellent job in leading India’s beginning as a software nation. However, I do believe that they have not moved to the next level. That’s the long and short of it. Nothing personal, it is a perfectly objective point of view, which most people in the know would not refute.

And I don’t understand your CXO comment, nor what a strategy consultant has got to do with anything … Strategy consultants are not preachers or messiahs, last I checked. They’re not in the business of “soul lifting” if that’s what you are suggesting.

My work around entrepreneurship advocacy has been two folds: (a) trying to offer content through which aspiring entrepreneurs can educate themselves, find inspiration, and (b) trying to inspire more people into entrepreneurship.

I don’t see what in that work deserves your rancor.

Sramana Mitra Sunday, August 16, 2009 at 4:48 PM PT

Sramana,

I am neither giving any excuse nor trying to justify the waste of time. I fully agree with your ideas of entrepreneurship and bootstrapping to achieve this.

I just want to make a point that its not as easy as you have mentioned in your posts.

I borrowed number of 40-50 from one of your comments only. Yes, 2-3 people are sufficient to develop any system but what I want to say is finding even 2-3 such kind of guys you will have to speak to dozens of people who will lower your morale.

And please don’t compare ecosystem in valley with India. And I don’t buy the argument that market feedback, etc can be done online through LinkedIn, Facebook, Skype, Skype Video, etc. You are sitting in US and talking about Indian market and its vast opportunities but let me make you clear most of the Indian professionals barring IT and ITES don’t access linkedin, skype,facebook etc.

Feedback through these mediums will always be skewed. For actual feedback you have to go to market and meet people. You can take any example…I can give you atleast 20-30 indian startups who are doing well but market research can’t be managed online. You need to build offline presence to manage your operations which can’t be done on weekends and daytime.

And about the last point , hope you know that most of the techies employed in major Indian IT companies are from non-computer background and with such less experience they are as ignorant about software business as they are about sectors. So, I believe in initial years it doesn’t matter in which sector you are starting business.

Anshul Sunday, August 16, 2009 at 11:43 PM PT

No Anshul, it is not easy at all. In fact, entrepreneurship is excruciatingly difficult.

And yes, if you are trying to build a software for a paan wala, or a jewelry store owner in India, no they won’t be online. But then, these may not be the best people to write software for either, because the adoption will be quite slow.

There is an Indian consumer population that is online, as is the entire world’s consumer population.

All I am saying is that you can do things. If you select a domain and a target segment that is easier to reach online, then you can move forward.

Success is about making intelligent and pragmatic choices. Not chasing windmills.

Sramana Mitra Monday, August 17, 2009 at 8:45 AM PT

A very interesting discussion here.

Having worked in two of the Big 3 Indian IT and still employed in one, I agree with you guys.

Working in these firms is one of the most debilitating experience that can happen to anybody’s career. I have dissuaded so many people from even taking up a job in these companies. I have stopped referring people to these organizations – even during the severest downdraft of recession. And if there is one advice I have to give other aspirants, it is just this: Money is not worth your dreams; look elsewhere and you will be both happy and rich.

***

All the entrepreneurial ambitions go out of the wind once you step into these campuses. And I do find a distinct lack of entrepreneurialness here or in other words mediocrity at its best – everywhere. It is so easy to loose way in these giant clogged-up systems and be seduced by the relaxed lifestyle.

There are very few people who still remember what they wanted to achieve and have eyes set on their goals.

We all work so hard to get a good job and get on to a blazing career; and coming to these companies is like pouring cold water over those dreams. There are many people who would discard the resume if it contains any of these Big 3 and other Indian IT services companies names, and totally agree with them. These companies just make us worthless, mediocre, and total idiots.

***

I have bootstrapped several ventures in past; it started out by funding small ventures with group of friends to working part time and whole weekends on these ideas. 4 such ventures have gone bust till now. Conclusion for me is very simple, you cannot have one foot on a motorboat and another foot on a catamaran. Ventures need lot of dedicated time. And most importantly you need a mindset. None of these two are going to work when a person works in these companies.

Entrepreneurial Mindset is totally lacking in these organizations. And do not assume the person “on a bench” has all the free time to work on their ‘pet projects’ a’la Google. Bencher is usually so frustrated and bechara so mired up in the politics of bosses that they end up loosing more than they will ever gain at these companies.

***

I have resigned and currently serving my notice period. Never been more happy. Getting my razor edge back. Learning new things other than what a boss prescribes, like philosophy and Egyptian history for a start. Getting my lifestyle out of these air-conditioned coffins. Getting my health back. Dreaming again. Living again.

I am working on the business plan of my next venture. Bootstrapped as always. (Bootstrap Bill, as I like to call myself, as in Pirates of Caribbean :))

I am sure going have great fun. If only more people would join us.

Good Luck

BJ Monday, August 17, 2009 at 10:34 PM PT

Some of the problems people face in these companies are

1. All the good and worthy websites are blocked!!

2. There is not much itneraction with the outside world for people to get inspired or build networks and confidence

3. Becnehres do not have any idea whats happening in the world

I also agree with some of the commenters here it is the blame has to lie with benchers but a bigger blame also lies with how these companies have ‘used’ these ‘reseources’

These companies in colusion with institutes are the first ones at the gate to ‘recruit’ them. The students havent even seen the world but they are given good salaries and seduce them with more campus like fun. Students usually have it tough to ignore the big money initially becuase of factors like edcuational loans, money is huge compared to pocket money and many times their parents’ income!

And also many who get in are basically unemployable. Education never really worked for them. They know they wouldn’t do well, even if they go out. So, they are happy to be on bench.

Oh ya, most popular escuse has to ‘loans’ – car, house etc etc and ‘family’

Most of these people have never made an effort to get out the pit they have dug for themselves, perhaps they are not even aware they are in a pit; companies like Infy are just using them for their benefit while appearing to be Messiah.

Education is to be blamed, so are companies, so are benchers. Its a system we cannot change unless we have some very good entreprenuerial stories to share. change would not come from companies as they would be happy to keep their zombie army. Education institues have no incentive, as their boundary is upto the placements; after that they are least bothered. Benchers, by the force of circumstances lead the life either completely unaware or pretending to be so.

Sramana as you said, it is all in attitudes. We are very lucky that we are meeting and reading the right people :)

BJ Tuesday, August 18, 2009 at 1:18 AM PT

Ooops Sramana sorry for the typos in last comment..

BJ Tuesday, August 18, 2009 at 1:20 AM PT

After all this comments so far, my 2 cents :
Entrepreneurship sounds very nice and motivating and looks like it will end your woes and make you happy and rich.
In reality if yo are working towards a goal then
a) You will always be short of time
b) You will dream about it
c) You will think others are idiot who do not understand your concept
d) It will cause depression
e) Friends and family might laugh at you trying to be Bil Gates
d) Wife and kids will complain that you do not have enough time in hand

Bottom line : it will suck the life out of you

But if you have crossed this stage and still working on towards your goal then 2 things will happen
a) Either you will be successful
b) It will make a better and experienced person out of you

Not bad, yeah!!

So faint hearts and people who look for job security , stay away from it

vinay Tuesday, August 18, 2009 at 1:02 PM PT

You see the world as you are.

If something very steady, secure, mundane appeals to you, you will always view entrepreneurship as a high-risk, near impossible challenge.

On the other hand, if you are, truly, inherently, an entrepreneur, you will have no choice but to stride right into that challenge zone, and figure out how to cope. And most likely, you would also enjoy it, find exhilaration in it, and of course, learn from it.

Sramana Mitra Tuesday, August 18, 2009 at 5:40 PM PT

I see there are two problems. If we don’t address both the problems neither of them will get resolved.

I am describing a real life project and client situation here.

One of our client for whom we do the integration work of their product needs ramping up and ramping down the team even 2 months.

Ramping up to 30 people for around 2 months and then ramping down to 10 people for again around 2 months which extends at times. They come to us because they can’t do this using their own staff by hiring and firing people. To do the integration we need people with domain knowledge and preferably knowledge on their product. Whenever our client gets a new client or new integration work we would need to do it by yesterday. So we charge the client say for average 20 people (just an irrelevant assumption for the current topics) and do this ramping up and ramping down for the need.

The 20 guys who don’t have work to do on the project for 2 or more months goes on ‘bench’. This doesn’t have any relationship with whether the company is billing the client or not as that is the business side of it. I don’t see there is any other way to handle this unless we plug and play with another similar client with exactly similar offset of ramping up and down needs which is very rare. Now what the company offers to the guys who are going on bench?

A big library.
Re-imbursement of the training cost and certification exam cost.
Flexi-Time to come to office.
Help them conceptualization in building frameworks and increase productivity.
etc etc etc.

Yeah always some other company offer them for similar work with x amount of extra salary and the guy leaves the company. Yes the company tries to give the guys best possible salary in the market. Yes the company spends a lot of money on the facilities to make the workspace the greatest. Yes the company assumes a 3-4 years experience person who studied 50+ engineering books and understood them and became graduate over 4 years and then worked for 4 years would have the matuirity to learn of his own from the facilities given and doesn’t need baby sitting on how to enhance skills and knowledge and determine the path one wants to take. However, there is always a great HR support or management support to ‘help’ anybody who has any specific question rather than ‘please do me baby sitting so that I learn more and I enhance my skills’.

I believe this describes a small portion of the problem from the company side.

Now let’s look at the side of the person who is on ‘bench’.

[1] They were baby seated since their childhood on what to read and what to learn mostly for the career growth or knowledge growth. In reality very less number of people have passion for any specific hobby or subject. It’s like my younger kid. Why didn’t you do the maths today? Ah! Mom never asked me to do that!

[2] When asked ‘what you want to be in next 3-4 years?’ They give a blank look and start thinking at that moment what could be a smart answer to that question not an answer which is thought about for long and which is coming from the passion or heart. On top of it the next question when asked that is ‘So what you are doing now or what you have done in last one year which will help you achieving what you just described as you want to be in next 3-4 years?’ most of the guys starts with excuses describing what they couldn’t do.

This is one side of the problem and I believe we are not addressing this side of the problem which represents the biggest portion of the people.

However, there are guys who want to do something and don’t get the platform to do that. We need to create framework for them to work and get satisfaction. One of the best models in earlier days was Open Source projects which were true open source. Where you never know how much time a person can spend on a specific project beyond his/her regular day work. The framework for open source development and the project management around it is still an amazing thing to me where everything is dynamic including the resources and time.

If the big companies invest on tools and infrastructure to create open source like projects where anybody and everybody whoever has bandwidth and passion can contribute to achieve some common goal then the small fraction of people who are good and doesn’t belong to the above category as I described before can enjoy as well as contribute and learn. Not sure whether there is something like this in big companies we are talking about as I have personally never worked in big companies and happy with the work I am doing for last 16 years and never considered myself being on ‘bench’ whether the company bills a client for my time or not.

Santanu Tuesday, August 18, 2009 at 11:09 PM PT

Santanu,

I am not sure the big companies are egalitarian enough to encourage the bench folks to develop themselves by writing open source modules and such, and provide sufficient guidance in doing so.

However, if there is a way to engage them (we’re probably talking close to 100,000 people in India at this point) into this community, I think many of us here can encourage them and steer them in these more constructive directions.

However, I really don’t know how to reach these people. It sounds like most of them are not utilizing the blogosphere, the open source communities, other online channels to educate themselves.

Can I request readers here to start recruiting young people like this, and plugging them into the right resources?

Sramana Mitra Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 12:56 PM PT

Mam

I am a occasional visitor of this site..

The reason I chose to post is that the issue
raised by you in this post was precisely the one bothering me.It was only yesterday in an orkut comm of one of the IT biggies that I read in an thread that people have been on bench
for 1 year..

I am a 2008 engineering passout..had campus placement..My joining has got delayed due to recession..
In the meantime I worked freelance for an NGO near my house and built a complete LAN based Information Mgmt system for them from scratch..

So after reading about these benchers..

I thought to myself that instead of wasting so much time of people…since companies do CSR..why can’t they make people on the bench
work on software projects for the social sector..these benchers are already getting the salary..they would get to work on a live project..
social sector would get software for free..it would help them..wouldn’t it be a win win for everybody..?

P.S. btw I was toying with the idea of selling this Information Mgmt System as a product to other NGOs..
can u pls give me inputs as to how to evaluate this idea from a business perspective..somehow get the feeling this idea won’t be big like financially..but purely from
the point of view of making a tiny small company..so I get the experience of doing a startup..I think it could be ok…
Looking forward to hearing from you..

Mukul

MUKUL Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 4:11 AM PT

Mukul, Great story, congratulations to you for using your time well. To test whether you have a business in your product, go talk to 50 other NGOs and test the value proposition. My bootstrapping book will be out in India soon, you can get lots of ideas there on how to go about doing this. You can also come to my roundtables resuming this fall, and pitch at one of them, so we can dialog further. Cheers, Sramana

Sramana Mitra Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 7:57 AM PT

Sramana,

Hope you know about this kind of initiative started last month in Pune. Check this
http://groups.google.com/group/techstart-in/web/techstart-overview

Anand Deshpande, CEO of Persistent, is the main driving force behind this effort.

We were able to get 2 candidates for our start up.

But still I would maintain , students need to be motivated and advised in a better way.

They are ready to spend lakhs on wasteful degrees awarded by Pvt Colleges but they are not ready to work for free even if they get mentorship and real industrial experience.

I sincerely request you to reach to the college youth if you can

Anshul Saturday, August 22, 2009 at 9:10 AM PT

I don’t see any issues in spending lakhs on degrees awarded in Pvt Colleges. There is a huge gap of teachers who are also mentors and counselors who work with these Pvt colleges. I still believe India has the right education structure as long as we start recognizing the importance of mentoring and counseling. We probably need to create the framework of professional mentorship and counseling in the country to complement the Pvt colleges.
Creating YATP (Yet Another Training Program) doesn’t help much. Though, through this kind of program we may find out those 5 people out of 200+ people who thinks differently and has passion to do good work. That doesn’t solve the 195+ bench guys not ‘doing’ anything.

Santanu Saturday, August 22, 2009 at 9:33 AM PT

Santanu,

Please go through that link once again. Its not any kind of training program.

I have seen toppers of various colleges who can’t write a 4 line of code which a passionate , intelligent kid in class 10th can write.

They are ready to spend lakhs on the degrees where syllabus is out-dated and has no relevance with today’s industrial needs but they are not ready to work for pea-nuts to gain real work experience. I was trying to crack on precious time they are losing. Their mindset needs to be changed.

And, I feel even if we are able to find out 5 out of 200 who think differently, I would consider this a great success. We are not doing job of Education or HRD minister.

I would like to end with a quote from GB Shaw.

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

So, 5 out of 200 will be a great success.

Anshul Saturday, August 22, 2009 at 10:55 AM PT

How many class 10 students you have in that cloud computing training program?
How it successfully changes the mindset of 200 people who didn’t get job or thinks that they are on ‘bench’?
Why they need to work without pay or minimum pay?
How is cloud computing learning is different than whatever they learned so far?
We are trying to address the problem of ‘bench’ in the industry and discussing two different approaches here.

[1] How to use this mind boggling amount of hours ‘not doing anything’.
[2] Remove the whole concept of ‘bench’ from the mind of people as they can do actually more than what the ‘non-bench’ guys can do using the infrastructure provided by the companies.

Santanu Saturday, August 22, 2009 at 12:11 PM PT

Santanu,

If you clearly read my post, I was talking about normal coding. I am not sure whether you have interacted with fresh pass-outs from various colleges or not but that is my experience.

Cloud computing and all are specialised areas and even a experienced programmer in big companies would know nothing about it.

Yes, we are trying to solve the problem of bench but the link which I posted but you didn’t gp through was the answer to Sramana’s this question ”

“Can I request readers here to start recruiting young people like this, and plugging them into the right resources?”

Does a solution exist by which you can motivate all 18000 people on bench and if it exists, does anyone has the bandwidth to reach to 18000 people?? For me answer is NO.

So, even if we are able to motivate 5 out of 200, I would consider it a success.

Its not wise to not do anything untill we have a solution to utilise the time of all 18000 guys.

Anshul Monday, August 24, 2009 at 1:19 AM PT

Inspiration right at home!
http://www.sramanamitra.com/2009/08/26/lakshya-institute/

Nalini Kumar Muppala Wednesday, August 26, 2009 at 10:38 AM PT

US and Indian corporations have exploited the H1B immigration laws for years now at the expense of the American worker and the American way of life. Its time to put a stop to it. Your turning this country into a third world nation. US corporations have already started pulling back on moving operations offshore. The Administration will close the corporate tax loopholes this Fall after finally realizing that hi-tech is America’s only chance to stand *our* economy back up. Its time America took back its hi-tech industry from India. It time India figured out how to re-invent itself and not at the expense of Americans and the American way of life!

larkin Friday, August 28, 2009 at 6:53 AM PT

they are not supposed to sit idle and kill time. I think it is a blessing instead. You have all the time in the world to learn new things and do some creative projects. Google has 20% of time to do your own project, but here you have 100% of your time.

srikanth Friday, August 28, 2009 at 3:33 PM PT

I have been on the bench from the past 5 months and this is my routine …..

8am:catch the company bus
8 45: reach company; flash in-time
9:00 leave for swimming
10:00 breakfast at a restaurant
10:30 reach office ; check mails; read the paper; check nifty
11-11:45 -> trading ; speculation & mostly profit transactions
12 -> do fundamental & technical research of my
stocks & future prospects
12:45 -> lunch
1:15-> smoke
1:30 -> read blogs; research & get literature on my hobbies (adventure sports)
current affairs ; military; geopolitics
2:00 – 3:00 -> idle mostly; look at my stocks or on the phone
3:00 -> sleep for half an hour
3:30 -> market closing time; final consolidation
4:00 -> smoke & juice time
4:15-> read NYtimes, time magazine & guardian uk
4:30 -> go to internet kiosk in the company canteen & check personal mails ; visit sites generally
5 -> meet our group friends in the canteen, order some evening snacks & tea; have a healthy & sometimes emotional debate over any topic under the sun; mostly bitching abt company :)
5:40-> leave canteen; pack from work; flash out
5:50-> smoke & wait for bus
6:10 -> bus starts for home; time to put on the headphones (tired after a hard days work, u see)

Any comments/suggestions/agree/disagree …….

vicky Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at 2:10 AM PT

I am speechless!

Sramana Mitra Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at 3:09 PM PT

Sramana,
One Issue that I have seen with bootstrapping a new company while on payroll of another is that, most of the employment contracts that I have seen, give the employer rights to all works produced irrespective of whether it was done using personal or employers time/resources.

Some of the contracts that I have seen are sufficiently broad in their scope that If I produce the next Harry Potter using my ancient typewriter on weekends the rights still rest with the employer.

My contract with my previous employer even gives them the rights to use my Image( either still or video) taken at any time before/during/after my employment with them for anything (e.g. sell soap, software, services or sarees) without my permission or any additional compensation to me.

Here I am not referring to small bodyshoppers but the Indian operations of some of the top technology bellwether MNC’s that your guest authors have been covering in this blog.

Speaking from my own bootstrapping experience.
A few years back a group of colleagues and me decided to explore starting our own company. We brainstormed and came up with different product plans. Our plan was that one of us would resigned from the Org, start exploring the feasibility of the business opportunities we had identified and setup the required infrastructure while the rest would continue working and finance the enterprise from their salary and moonlight as and when required. When our company breaks even the rest would resign their jobs and join in. Somehow words got around, we were marched to the big Boss’es office, All sorts of clauses were pulled out of our employment contract. Legal threats made and the end result was that our enterprise closed down even before a single line of code was written. The one who had resigned moved on to a different job and 1 year down the line Big Boss resigned along with a bunch of “Stars” from his team to start his own company.
No I am not shitting you, everything above is true.

The above incident made me interested in the employment contracts of friends across the industry and conceptually they all have a similar set of clauses which boil down to “The employer owns every Idea you had while you were employed irrespective of where you had it and what you did with it”
Any comments(or maybe a detailed blog post) on the legality of bootstrapping, the employment contracts used in the Industry and methods of bootstrapping without getting into the issues faced by us.

vijay Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 1:49 PM PT

Would you like to give me a roadmap

More importantly , should i feel guilty ….

vicky Friday, April 16, 2010 at 3:58 AM PT

No, you should not feel guilty, but you need to try to use your time better.

Start by attending my roundtables every week: http://sramanamitra.com/entrepreneurship-strategy-roundtables

Study Open Source projects and see what you can build on your own and get hooked up with that community.

Sramana Mitra Friday, April 16, 2010 at 8:47 AM PT

Vijay – I will have to get lawyers to weigh in on this issue. I am not an expert. I know that it happens very extensively here in Silicon Valley.

Sramana Mitra Friday, April 16, 2010 at 8:58 AM PT

I loved it with sarcasm when this guy from Infosys said "They will make us Mediocre"and even Sramana Said- "They will frame you in Mediocrity"

How can a company make you Mediocre, here you are having your monthly salary and no work-Hmm great opportunity to create something!!,but here is this guy btcng, whining,bawling.

Dear Sir, You are not Mediocre because the company makes you so, you are mediocre because there is safety in mediocrity, it is in the blood and culture to be safe but non achieving.

But then there is guilt associated with that nowadays, where it is great to be called innovators but even more greater to be talked as a GREAT POSSIBLE INNOVATOR BUT STOPPED BY THE SYSTEM-B***S**T.
Deep down we all know, if we want to take the risk we can do it,even without disturbng the app[le cart much……BUT we prefer the story of "WOH KAR SAKTHA THA MAGAR…"USME KYA TALENT HAI MAGAR USKE MAMA NE USKO ENCOURAGE ….."BLAH BLAH and yes very importantly BLAH!!!

mahadev Thursday, September 29, 2011 at 9:31 PM PT

Very, very true. No one can make you mediocre unless you let them.

Sramana Mitra Tuesday, January 10, 2012 at 4:05 PM PT

I and several others are on bench in Infosys from last 1.3 year. While they don't have any projects to offer, when I tried to inquire about the opportunities they can offer me. My HR and manager in return asked me " Why didn't you get any project till now?" . I said in spite of me asking for work again and again I wasn't offered any, at this my HR(who is supposed to encourage employees) told me " This means you are not competent enough". I told him that Infosys' training system only approved my competency, so how come now I am not competent. At this very ruthlessly he told me YOU CAN LEAVE NOW. I think EMPLOYEE HARASSMENT is the only policy left in Infosys.

Rohit Tuesday, May 29, 2012 at 6:42 AM PT
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