Bootstrapped & Growing: The Aarav Solutions Journey in the Global IT Consulting Sector

Raj Darji, Founder, Aarav Solutions Featured in   IT/ITeS 100 - In Partnership with IDA Ireland

10 years since its founding, Aarav Solutions continues to be a bootstrapped IT products and services firm, with a global presence in India, the US, the UK, Canada, and other geographies. In this interview, its CEO Raj Darji takes us through the company’s journey through the pandemic & beyond

One of the things that stand apart when we look at Raj Darji’s journey in building Aarav Solutions is, the company is still self-funded, and Darji has stuck to a key principle his father taught him; ‘take care of your employees and they will take care of you in return.’

Built initially from his savings and later from initial revenues from the business, today, Aarav Solutions has grown from a small IT consulting firm in Ahmedabad, to a global product engineering and IT consulting company with 100+ employees and global offices in India, the U.S, Canada, and the U.K. The company offers digital transformation and digital enablement, mobility and managed services, infrastructure-as-a-service, and revenue and customer management solutions to customers across BFSI, automotive, energy & utilities, and media & communications industries.

In this interview with The SmartCEO, Raj Darji talks to us about the steps Aarav Solutions took to overcome the pandemic, emerging technologies the company is adopting to grow its business, and Aarav’s future outlook.

What are your top three priorities as the CEO today?

As we enter 2022, we know that life is not the same for us as well as for businesses. The pandemic has taught us many lessons and it was a period for us to reflect upon how we manage our personal and work life. As a CEO, my first priority at this stage is to ensure strong & sustainable growth for the organization in terms of revenue and customer management solutions, while keeping our customers as well as employees at the center of all key initiatives. 

We are also continuously expanding our services in multiple geographies. So, the next goal is to offer the right IT products and solutions to enable businesses towards digital transformation using the right technology, people and processes.

As an individual and as a business we have always believed in growing together and working for our future generations. Last year, we started a non-profit Edtech initiative – Sanvid – to teach and empower students in rural India in IT technologies. This year, Sanvid is one of my top priorities.

What kind of challenges did Aarav Solutions face during the pandemic, and how did you overcome them?

As an IT consulting and product engineering organization, the key strength is always human capital. In line with this thought, I founded Aarav Solutions with an objective to offer equal growth opportunities for every member of the organization. So, when the pandemic hit, while we did face an initial period of fear and confusion, our employees, leaders and customers played a big role in supporting us and helping us understand and respond to the situation. 

Our first goal was to ensure the safety of our employees. We ensured our employees’ job security and financial security without a second thought. We not only retained every single employee but grew more than 100% from the beginning of 2020 till now (2022).

On a strategic level, we took key decisions to create a stronger communication channel for our employees and customers, and ensured that we delivered quality services to our customers with the right solutions and pricing strategy. 

We had always focused on management by objectives and I am blessed to have a team that focused on creating value for the organization, customers, and towards each other. These key steps ensured that stayed together and surpassed the global crsis. 

IT/ ITeS is one of the few sectors which has witnessed good growth and increased hiring activity even during the pandemic. What are your thoughts on this?

There is no doubt that the coming decade is a digital decade. Digital transformation will be the top priority for businesses and the IT industry will lead the economy in the coming years. With this, the requirement of quality services and a trained workforce will become essential for businesses.

At Aarav, we have seen exponential growth of more than 100% and we are continuously growing every day. To build a sustainable business, hiring is an important factor, however providing growth opportunities, helping the workforce train and learn new technologies in a motivating environment should also be considered as an equally important aspect.

What are your thoughts on the use of AI technologies in IT?

We have seen exponential growth in AI with practical use cases in medical, financial, manufacturing, and large-scale industries. For our clients in BFSI, data is very crucial and is considered gold. So, the right AI and ML solutions will help them find anomalies at the right time and resolve issues in time, thus eliminating revenue leakage, and building a better customer experience. 

The recent fiscal budget by the Indian Government embarks the biggest digital shift in cryptocurrencies and thus building a new digital economy. AI has made the impossible possible and this is just the beginning.

What steps have you taken towards digital transformation, and how is it impacting your business and customers?

The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation and helped businesses restructure their processes. This digital shift can potentially prepare organizations to battle many crises and shape their future, rather than normalizing traditional practices. 

Following up on a report, we see an average share of products/services that are partially or fully digitized increasing from 35% to 55% in the past three years. According to proven practices, depending on the organization’s size, digital transformation can boost companies’ productivity by 25 to 30% in 6-18 months if they incorporate agile approaches to their IT infrastructure projects. 

At Aarav, we have been at the center of such digital transformation initiatives for our customers. We have implemented better collaboration tools, focused more on HR platforms, and implemented better digital communication strategies.

What steps are you taking to upskill employees in an increasingly digital environment?

For us, while working in digital environments is comparatively easy, continuous learning and upskilling is also a must. Keeping this in mind, we’ve set up a Center of Excellence (CoE) department which offers future-ready consultant courses for young talent. It is a 360-degree course to improve their soft skills, presentation skills, project management, technological skills, and much more. We also help experienced members on our team get trained in new and diverse technologies. 

The one big question in all hiring interviews?

We are an equal opportunity employer with a diverse workforce from multiple geographies, cultures, and educational backgrounds. We are growing steadily month-on-month and at the same time, we are building our business sustainably. As teams grow it becomes difficult to have the right culture. Our ethos is to offer a growth-oriented environment for everyone, which cannot be built without the right people who are happy and motivated to work. So, our most important hiring question is – ‘What makes you happiest and most motivated at work?’, and, – ‘What makes you the right fit to work in teams?’ 

Skills can be taught, but attitude is an inherent and most difficult trait of a person. 

Where do you see Aarav Solutions 3 years from now? 

We have always focused on a holistic, sustainable growth model. We believe in delivering value for our customers, employees and partners. Going forward as well, we will continue to do the same with much more zeal and vigor. 

We are expanding into newer geographies like Canada, the UK, Europe, and Africa. We would like to be established in these geographies as a trusted IT consulting and product engineering organization. We also have some interesting product ventures in the pipeline and we see strong growth for the same.

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