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Building a Made-in-India ERP Product Company: Ramco CEO Virender Aggarwal (Part 1)

Posted on Thursday, Jan 10th 2013

Virender Aggarwal is the CEO of Ramco Systems, an enterprise software company focused on cloud computing products and services. Prior to his current role, he was the president and APAC region head for an IT services firm based in Singapore. In previous stints he was a key player in building the IT services and consulting businesses in emerging markets. Virender has a masters in business management from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science.

Sramana: Virender, let’s start with some of the corporate background on Ramco. Let’s set some context about where Ramco comes from, and then we can dive into more detail.

Virender Aggarwal: I am not one of the founders of Ramco; I joined the company recently. Ramco is an in-house IT setup of the Madras Cements Group. It is operated as a division of that company and evolved from them [by] writing an enterprise resource planning (ERP) product in-house. It was launched by Bill Gates in 1996. At that time it was a hard-charging product, and they were able to sell ERP products all over the world, including installations in the U.S. and Europe.

Sramana: What was the principle target market?

Virender Aggarwal: They were competing with Oracle and SAP. At a prior company, I saw a single installation based on HR support alone cost more than a million dollars. It is a fairly comprehensive product. Ramco had hired 70 IIIM [Indian Institutes of Management] graduates during one hiring season alone. It owned the tallest building in Chennai at that time. Ramco had spent a lot of investment on the product, and it was a successful product. We had significant sales in the U.S.

Sramana: Why were people purchasing this product as opposed to those from SAP or Oracle?

Virender Aggarwal: At that point Oracle and SAP were also new. This was a client server product, while SAP had not made that setup yet. This was an Indian, home-grown product that was very easy for Indian companies to use. Its primary target was the Indian market, but we also had substantial installations in the U.S. market as well. We had 60 installations in the U.S.

Sramana: I can understand why Ramco would win in India. Oracle and SAP did not target that market very well, and when they did, they came with a price point that was far too high. What was the reason U.S. enterprises bought the product?

Virender Aggarwal: We offered tremendous flexibility. We met our customers’ needs even if they were extensive. We have a customer in Chicago that delivers millions of meals to schools every day. Customizing the product to their needs required a lot of work. Also, our interface is very slick and our production modules are very effective.

This segment is part 1 in the series : Building a Made-in-India ERP Product Company: Ramco CEO Virender Aggarwal
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