Elance CEO Visits Wisitech
February 27, 2008
Antara Nanda Mondal Web Content Consultant It was sometime in early 2004, I think. Partho (our CEO) told me excitedly, “You know, I have come across this online business platform elance.com. There is plenty of work there. If we can bid right, we will never be short of getting challenging work.” His eyes had a sparkle as if this was just the opportunity he had been waiting for.
Wisitech (then Orient InfoSolutions) was a tiny company then, led primarily by Partho and his steely determination to make the company carve a niche as a quality-conscious and reliable web solutions provider. His small team of rather inexperienced but energetic and creative web developers was hungry for work that would stretch their capabilities to the limits. Cut to February 21, 2008. Orient is now Wisitech, with a 50-member strong manpower base, a newly done up plush office spread over two floors and a work repertoire that can give any web solutions provider a run for its money. Today there is an excited buzz around the office because a special guest is coming for a visit. And he does, on the dot at 10.00 am. Mr. Fabio Rosati, the CEO of Elance.com, on a tour to India had shown an interest to visit Wisitech and we were making sure he got a royal welcome.
Well, why not? Wisitech has, over the past four years, steadily built up a sizeable client base on elance.com, successfully winning and executing projects worth thousands of dollars and developing a remarkable reputation as a quality web solutions provider. No wonder then that Mr. Rosati was curious to know more about Wisitech, share his own thoughts on elance.com and discuss how to make the two work more closely together. Probably Mr. Rosati wasn’t expecting a rousing traditional Indian welcome, complete with an “arati” with lighted earthen lamps, a vermilion “tikka”, a garland of roses, a round of introductions and a photo session (all managed meticulously by the HR and admin teams led by Madhu and Boseji)! He was pleasantly surprised and quite amused at the elaborate reception. Pleasantries over, we sat down to talk business.
Making business Mr. Rosati very candidly shared how elance.com came to be, from an idea that survived the dot com bust, became popular but wasn’t making any money to becoming a multi-million dollar company that made business by helping others make business. Striking a similar chord, Partho recounted how he had begun Orient InfoSolutions with its maiden flagship venture meghdutam.com – a literary website that became a precursor to the social networking sites of today way back in 1999. It successfully built a thriving community of literary enthusiasts worldwide, winning accolades from BBC World as one of the four best literary websites but eventually succumbed due to the lack of steady revenue source. While Mr. Rosati talked about how elance.com was striving to meet the demands of its clients by gradually expanding its product and solutions portfolio, we apprised him about how Partho had positioned Wisitech as an end-to-end web solutions provider, envisioning years ago that companies would increasingly prefer to go for a complete basket of solutions from one vendor than juggling a number of different vendors. “Oh, I see. So you do a bit of designing, a bit of programming, a bit of content and some marketing?” asked Mr. Rosati, adding that maintaining quality control is a hard job when you are doing everything.
Brainstorming over tea We were expecting queries and we gladly welcomed the doubts he voiced as an opportunity to show him our work. Must say, Mr. Rosati probably had not expected Wisitech to have built up such a formidable repertoire of high-end and creative web solutions for companies spanning across various industrial sectors. He especially complimented the high quality and finesse of our designs and remarked that we should be among the top Elance providers! Keen to get our feedback on Elance, Mr. Rosati sat down with our marketing think-tank and over warm cups of tea and sweets, he shared with us his vision for Elance. He explained the dramatic changes that are being introduced in Elance to convert it from a online market place where services are bought and sold to a “workplace” and a “campus” where both buyers and service providers around the world would come together and make it their own.
Why India matters He shared with us how small and medium sized Indian companies (about 4000 of them), several of them from smaller Indian cities that are not known for their IT prowess – have made Elance their “workplace”. And that Indian firms account for over 50% of the projects done at Elance! He asked us to voice the problems we were facing with Elance, the things about Elance we were happy about and suggest areas of improvement. We had a hearty exchange of ideas. While leaving Mr. Rosati was gifted a memento on behalf of the Wisitech team and he was asked to carry one for his colleague Mr. Ved Sinha who was scheduled to come but couldn’t make it due to jet lag. A visibly delighted Mr. Rosati reiterated that he was very satisfied indeed with his visit to Wisitech (he later wrote in a mail to Partho, “You have assembled a very special team”) and said he looked forward to meeting Partho and his colleagues at the dinner he was hosting at the Taj Mansingh Hotel a few days later. The dinner was attended by Partho, Rohit and Santanu and they did have a great time. Ah, but that’s another story!
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