An IT Consultant of Pakistani Origin Who Built a $1 Billion Firm in His Basement
Carl Rodrigues’s family thought he had lost his mind when the successful IT consultant decided to quit his job and develop a computer product. Sixteen years later, the company he made is worth over $1 billion.
“Everybody thought I had gone completely nuts,” he said. “They were saying ‘what’s wrong with this guy? Is he having a hippy moment?’.”
The biggest problem Rodrigues faced at the time was the lack of workable ideas but he was not undeterred.
“My goal was that I wanted to see what I could produce if I did something I really liked,” he added. “I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I thought I would give it a shot.” After a month’s work and many tireless hours, Rodrigues came up with the idea of designing a software system that allowed a user to control his or her mobile phone from their laptop.
Sales of the system started to grow slowly initially. However, 12 months in, Rodrigues got a phone call from one of the UK’s largest supermarket groups. The firm didn’t want to sell the system to its customers, instead it wanted to incorporate it into its operations for its staff to better communicate and pass on data and other information.
“I don’t think they realized that they were talking to just one guy in a basement, so when the person asked to speak to someone in sales I came back on the phone with a slightly different tone.” The little ruse worked, and the UK firm placed a “huge order” for 20,000 units. Soti has never looked back and it now has annual revenues of $80 million.
Born in Pakistan to a Roman Catholic family Rodrigues immigrated to Canada with his parents and four siblings when he was 11 in search of better education and opportunities. After “doing enough at school to go to university”, Rodrigues did a degree in computer science and mathematics at the University of Toronto.
After graduating, Rodrigues worked as a consultant for a couple of years before launching his own company in 2001. Today his company, is valued at more than $1 billion and has 17,000 business customers around the world with over 700 employees across 22 countries.
Despite numerous takeover bids, including an undisclosed offer from Microsoft in 2006, the former IT consultant has kept the business which remains 100% owned by him and his wife. Rodrigues has also moved out from his basement, and now headquarters in two buildings in Mississauga.
He is now trying to recruit talented computer programmers to his firm through a new innovative method. The company advertises for people with no programming experience or qualifications to try their luck and puts applicants through a number of tests before being recruited under the initiative. Soti has so far recruited 16 people through the program. This article originally appeared on BBC.