Sramana Mitra: What year does that bring us up to when you finished your Microsoft gig?
Sunny Singh: 1996.
Sramana Mitra: The Internet is now in full swing and you wanted to be an entrepreneur. Within that year that you worked at Microsoft, you figured out what it was that you were going to do your company around? What was that?
Sunny Singh: I was fascinated. I thought what if I could transfer technology to India. That could be very interesting because I could help a lot of companies go from US to India. I did my market analysis. I didn’t like it. I ran a number of ideas back and forth and said, “My background is in integration, supply chain, and software. These are areas that I enjoy but not necessarily the most passionate about.” I had very strong opinions in that area. I always want to learn and figure things out. I want to listen to people and figure out what could be wrong. That’s what led to the genesis of Edifecs.
Sramana Mitra: What year did Edifecs get crystallized?
Sunny Singh: Edifecs started in 1996. We are almost 20 years in the works.
Sramana Mitra: You said you started with trying to do projects in India. Was that the beginning of Edifecs?
Sunny Singh: No, it was more of market analysis. I spent more than a year analyzing what it is that I wanted to do.
Sramana Mitra: When you actually crystallized what you were going to do with Edifecs, that was in 1997?
Sunny Singh: While I was at Microsoft, I was looking at all of these things.
Sramana Mitra: By the time you started Edifecs, you knew what you were going to do?
Sunny Singh: Absolutely.
Sramana Mitra: What was that?
Sunny Singh: In 1996, we developed our tool called SpecBuilder. It was a productivity for integration analysis to document and test information. If I am dealing with a medical claim or a purchase order, you must know what I’m sending and what the information means. How do you test that information to make sure that it’s compliant? Once you define and test, you go into production. You actually start sending information back and forth. The first tool that we developed was to document and test it, and a number of things around that before you go into production exchanging that information between business partners.
Sramana Mitra: Who were your first customers? What was the process? Did you go out and find customers right away? How did you validate?
Sunny Singh: My first company was my ex-company Expeditors. I talked to them, “If you are looking for this tool, I’ve built it. It does these things. Would you be interested in buying it?” We sold five licenses for $2,000. That was our first customer. I do remember when we got the first check, my wife and I went to a very nice dessert place.
Because I was in the industry, I was talking to a lot of companies like GAP. They are dealing with Global 2000 companies. I went to some of my ex-customers and showed them the product. The initial set of customers came from that group.
I was a one-person show. I did support, sales, marketing, etc. The office was my condo. When the office phone would ring, I always pick it up on the second ring even if I’m asleep or tired. This lady from New York called me. I picked up the phone on the second ring. I solved the problem and went back to sleep.
A colleague of the woman who knew me and that it was a garage operation said, “Did you know that you called Sunny at 4 o’clock?” She felt so bad that she called me back and apologized. I said, “You’re the customer. It was totally fine to call me.” There were many incidents like these that make me chuckle. I don’t know if I can do that now. I don’t think so. At that point, there was unabashed courage.