Potential investors include Sudhir Sethi, who was head of Walden India International when it invested in Mindtreeand is now founder and chairman of early stage venture capital firm, IDG Ventures India, Walden India, Sequoia and one or two other venture capital firms, two people with knowledge of the discussions said.
“All the people who had a prior relationship with him and who backed him in MindTree are in talks with him for the new venture. Some funds have also approached Mr Soota independently when they learnt he was starting something new,” said one of the people. Happiest Minds is in a similar business as Mindtree and plans to offer IT services, R&D services, product engineering services, remote infrastructure management, testing and consulting.
The firm will focus on some of the emerging technologies such as cloud, social CRM, unified communications, mobility, business intelligence and analytics, Mr Soota had said at its launch. He did not answer calls made to him. In response to ET’s mail requesting a confirmation, his media agency, Gutenberg Communications , said: “We will not be able to confirm any of these developments and if you go ahead with the story it will be purely speculative.”
Walden and IDG Ventures declined to comment. However, two people independently confirmed that 4-5 firms, including IDG, Walden and Sequoia, were in discussions with Mr Soota and Happiest Minds could raise up to $45 million in funding. Mr Soota could divest around 15%- 20% to financial investors. V G Siddhartha, Cafe Coffee Day founder and an early investor in MindTree through Global Technology Ventures, could also invest because of his long-standing relationship with Mr Soota although it was not certain, they said.
“Walden has made handsome returns on its initial investment of Rs 24 crore in Mindtree,” said a person close to Mindtree. “Mr Soota may be 67 years old but he is a person of high intellect and energy. The bigger question is the level of maturity of the IT industry, which is very different today from what it was when MindTree started,” he said. Mr Soota is in process of the getting together a team, including a CEO for the venture and people to head the six service lines Happiest Minds plans to offer.
Several old associates of Mr Soota have got in touch on their own or have been contacted by Mr Soota to be part of the new venture, at least three people said. Many of them are former or current MindTree employees. Former MD of Kyocera Wireless and Parthasarathy NS are among the CEO candidate being explored by Mr Soota for his venture. Another Mindtree executive, Kalyan Banerjee, may also join Mr Soota. Happiest Minds expects to start delivering services in five months, and has set a target of growing to $100 million in five years.