Posted on Monday, Feb 7th 2022
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Robosoft Founder Rohith Bhat started a services company in his hometown – a small town on the west coast of Karnataka, India. When we spoke in 2017, fifteen years later, the company was generating $18 million in revenue and had raised two sizable rounds of VC funding. I found the story exhilarating!
Sramana Mitra: Let’s go to the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background? Rohith Bhat: I was born in Udupi, India. It’s a small town on the west coast of the country. Then I went to the local school and university and studied engineering and computer science in 1992. Once I finished engineering, I had an opportunity to go on to work for a company in Japan for Recosoft. I worked for this company for around three and a half years. Sramana Mitra: Japanese society is not fluent in English, so you must have had some difficulty adjusting to that. Rohith Bhat: Yes. This was in 1993. That was the time when the Japanese Yen was at its strongest and Japan’s economy was strong. They were challenging the US on so many different industries. How could a country build itself to an economic and technological power?
That was pretty challenging. I was taken with their culture. They’re very respectful. Their work ethic was impressive. That was the genesis of my startup. As a country, Japan was a major inspiration for me. I said, “Once I go back, I’m going to start something.” My job there was building Japanese word processor on the Apple Mac platform.
Sramana Mitra: Did you pick up Japanese in this process? Rohith Bhat: Yes, but I’m not very fluent. I could speak in Japanese enough to get by a weekend in the country. I came back to India in late 1995. I decided that I should start something. I knew only two things back then. One is I wanted to do a startup and second was that my expertise was building products on Apple Mac platform.
Apple was just coming into India at that time. They had a 20-people team in India. Everyone on the team was either a marketing or a sales person. None of them were technical. Because they needed a technical guy, I was happy to tag along. The first project was for Apple. They were building Indian language capabilities.
Sramana Mitra: You were doing this out of which part of India? Rohith Bhat: I was in Bombay at that time. When I started the company, I started in Bombay. We got some good money out of it. I built that project with two other freelancers whom I knew from an earlier stint. That helped me get more follow-on engagements. I traveled to the US for their developer conference. Apple started introducing us to their partner companies in Singapore, US, Europe, and Israel. That helped us to start building something. The first two years was in Bombay. Sramana Mitra: How were you getting customers? Rohith Bhat: Apple was referring us to them. We were executing the work based on what Apple gave us. They would do email introductions. We would interact with them through email. They would send the job specification. We would build the software based on that.
Our conversation continues
here. This segment is a part in the series : Best of Bootstrapping . Bootstrapping to an Exit . Why is Bootstrapping Important? . How Can You Play this Low-Probability Game Intelligently? . Do NOT Go to VCs as Beggars - Go as Kings . Excess is NOT Required for Success . Bootstrap First and Raise Money Later . Some Bootstrapping to Exit Case Studies . The Buy Side of Bootstrapping to an Exit . Blitzscaling vs. Bootstrapping . Bootstrapping to Unicorns More »» . Cinedigm Acquires Bootstrapped 1Mby1M Company Future Today for $60 Million . Mailchimp Bootstraps to $600M Revenue . Bootstrapping from Arizona to $10 Million . Bootstrapped Basecamp Executes a No Nonsense Strategy . How Under30Experiences Bootstrapped to $5 Million . Bootstrapping with a Paycheck . How Algo.ai CEO Amjad Hussain Bootstrapped using Services from Michigan . Seed Investors Who Like Bootstrapped Businesses . How iHeartRaves CEO Bootstrapped a Niche e-Commerce Company to $20 Million . Bootstrapping with Services . How The Intern Group CEO David Lloyd Bootstrapped to $13 Million . How Passageways CEO Paroon Chadha Bootstrapped from Indiana . How SmartBuyGlasses CEO David Menning Bootstrapped to $50 Million . Death by Overfunding . How RainmakerForce CEO Mack Sundaram Bootstrapped Decisively to $5 Million+ . How FormAssembly CEO Bootstrapped a Virtual Company with a Paycheck . TimeSlips CEO Mitch Russo Bootstrapped to Exit with Sage . The VC-Entrepreneur Compensation Disbalance . BioConnect CEO Bootstraps with Sophisticated Strategic Maneuvering . Tremend CEO Marius Hanganu Bootstraps from Romania . Gesture CEO Jim Alvarez Bootstraps to $10 Million . SproutLoud CEO Bootstraps to $30 Million from Florida . Tuft & Needle CEO Bootstraps to Over $100 Million . Co-founders Bootstrap Linguamatics to Over $10M from the UK . Ownership Matters . Vainu Co-founder Mikko Honkanen Bootstraps from Finland . Entrepreneur Couple Bootstraps to $10M from Colorado . 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