Sramana: So you partnered with Informix?
Manish Sharma: Yes, we partnered with Informix. They could not meet the deal requirements without us because they were a product provider, not a systems integrator. The database was a small part of the overall project. We had to submit our own credentials to win the bid. We worked directly with their executives and it was a lot of fun. He was generally interested in what we had to say. Everyone else that they worked with was still figuring out the web, we were the only people who had a lot of experience with web development.
As we were closing the partnership with Informix, they called and asked if we could drop our price. I was not ready for that question but I declined that request because we had already provided them with discounts. Their CTO called me back the next day and told me that we had better not mess this deal up because they were picking us over a bunch of other guys.
Sramana: How long did this business go on before you did something new?
Manish Sharma: I worked with them for three and a half years. I left because I realized that I wanted to do something in the product space. Initially, it was very exciting for me. Later, I realized that I was doing the same thing again and again.
I had co-founded the company with two of my friends. One day, I told them that I wanted to do a product company and that I would not do it out of India. It was a tough conversation. They wanted to know why I did not want to run the product company from India or why I did not want to build it within our existing company. I finally just had to tell them that I wanted to go. We were very close friends ,so we figured out a way for me to leave that involved me selling my stock to the other co-founders. That company is still running out of Bombay, and I left and came to the US.
Sramana: What happened when you came to the US?
Manish Sharma: I came to the US on a visa through a web hosting partner based out of Cupertino. We were the largest Indian services company at that time for them. Our deal with them was worth $1.5 million. The owner of the company and a business partner wanted to set up a startup and wanted me to work with them.
We were supposed to build stuff together. I started working here and it all seemed interesting. Unfortunately, he and his partner had a big fallout and the company fell out. I was stranded in the US with nothing to do and a visa that was about to expire. I came back to India and spent three months figuring out what to do. I did help my old company raise some capital and get a strategy in place for another bid they were trying to place.