This former Microsoft employee made an early bet on cloud and today runs a unicorn startup with Fortune 500 companies as its clients

Samir Bodas, co-founder and CEO, Icertis
  • Icertis, the contract management startup, became a unicorn in 2019.
  • In an interview with Business Insider, Samir Bodas, co-founder and CEO, shares how Icertis really came about and he has ‘serendipity’ to thank.
  • The startup has over 160 odd customers from around the world.
Cloud technology is booming today, but years ago, it was almost unheard of. Yet, Samir Bodas and Monish Darda took a risky ride on the barely-there cloud technology wave. Today, their unicorn startup generates over $100 million in revenue.

Icertis was founded in 2009, and got unicorn status in September last year after Azim Premji’s Premji Invest and US-based VC firm Greycroft invested in it. The startup offers contract management services on cloud, and has over 160 odd customers from around the world.

The Serendipity of a startup

But Bodas believes there has been a lot of ‘serendipity’ involved in the making of Icertis. Bodas, a former Microsoft employee, was mulling over building his fifth startup having sold two of them for millions of dollars.
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“You see, once you have been an entrepreneur, you become unemployable. Bigger companies don’t want to hire you because you are too much of a renegade. They want the entrepreneur within you but on a leash. So, the only thing to do next is to start another startup,” Bodas told Business Insider.

With no product in mind, he and Darda got together with just one hypothesis – to be a large successful software company, you have to create a technology wave or ride one. “Creating a technology wave is hard, that’s what people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk have done. So, we decided to find the right technology wave to ride,” he said.

The first customer- Microsoft
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Bodas is based out of Seattle which is also home to two of the four biggest cloud companies – Microsoft and Amazon. In the early 2000s, it was still in its nascent stage. It was at a party with a former Microsoft colleague, Bodas happened to mention their interest in cloud.

“He said ‘why don’t you do something on contract management, you build it on the Microsoft platform and we will be the first customer’... That’s how we started Icertis,” said Bodas,

By 2014, they had closed in on a bunch of customers – Johnson and Johnson, Genpact etc. One thing led to another, and in 2015 they raised their first round of funding. By 2019, they were a unicorn with over a billion dollars in value.
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Doubling revenues in 2019

Back home in India, Bodas sees a massive opportunity in cloud. They already have customers like Infosys, Wipro, Cognizant, Airtel and Genpact to name a few. “Cloud adoption for the leading companies in India is substantial because really there’s no option left. There’s a massive opportunity here. In 2019, our revenue in the Asia Pacific region grew by 230%,” said Bodas.

Icertis now plans to invest in building new technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence and machine learning. “The idea of implementing AI and ML into reading contract data has massive potential,” he said.
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It also plans to expand to Japan and China. Its R&D centre in Pune itself is looking to hire over 400 people.

“We are very focused on growth, but more so on having fun. We doubled our revenue in 2019 over 2018. We are confident of keeping up with the pace of growth,” he said.

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