Software entrepreneur Harsh Kariwala started V-Comply when he was a 19-year-old student at The University of Manchester.
Juggling the running of the business with his studies, he had to be up as early as 4am to manage his development team back in India before heading off to lectures at 11 due to time differences.
This had work has since paid off and the company, which develops software for companies to track and manage responsibilities and risks, now has 80 employees and a presence in the UK, US, India and Singapore.
V-Comply is now working with over 1,500 clients including Honda, Siemens and Shell. And needless to say, Harsh also graduated with a BA in Economics (Hons.) Accounting & Finance in the summer of 2016.
Harsh from Kolkata started his entrepreneurial career early, selling software online from the age of 17. He said: “I have been driven, not by money, but by a desire to create something special. I love ideas and bringing them to life.
“I come from a business family and so it was quite a natural progression to become an entrepreneur. My father gave me responsibility early, while still at school, on real-life commercial projects.
“It taught me a great deal from developing key skills such as negotiation and leadership, to understanding the general mechanics of running a business.
“I was pushed in the deep-end, but it was a fantastic opportunity to learn to adapt and build the foundations of my business career and skills.”
Harsh is also conscious that his workforce should be from a diverse background; instituting policies such as employing people on half days at 60% of full time wages in order to encourage women with families to work for the company.
He added: “I believe a homogenous group neglects the insights and qualities a diverse workforce can bring. Attracting from a wider pool of talent gives us a commercial edge – it is very much a business decision!”
The university supported Harsh in developing his business – not just through lectures and projects, but by collaborating with researchers.
“My degree has been very important in my development, teaching me vital skills for my current work managing and growing my business,” he said.
“Combining study and work helped me to operate better under pressure and prioritise my workload. It also helped me develop good communication skills, which is important when managing a team of 80.
“I made a lot of meaningful connections at university that are really helpful in expanding my business. My first pilot for one of my products, LIME (Learning and Interaction Made Easy) was at the University with Dr Paul Middleditch, who specialises in macroeconomics. This gave a huge boost to my confidence and the product is now valued upwards of US$5m.”
Dr Middleditch added: “Harsh was an excellent student of mine on the course Macroeconomic Principles where we have made use of a classroom voting system to further student interaction during classes.
“He was highly engaged and I always enjoyed our discussions over our choice of software for a classroom voting system. I wish him every luck in his new venture, he thoroughly deserves it.”
As might be expected, Harsh isn’t resting on his laurels, with significant plans for the future expansion of the business. He said: “There is still a lot to achieve, which is very exciting.
“India has been seen as a place to outsource IT, often low level work. I want to help change that view. India has a thriving tech sector and I want my company, V-Comply, to be at the forefront of creating original, innovative products and consultancy.
“It is about challenging the status quo, creating impact and value through developing ground breaking products.”