Padma Duraiswamy’s laughter reflects how much she has enjoyed the last 20 years.
When she founded Chimera Technologies in 2001 in India, it was rare to see a woman leave a stable, well-paying job to become an entrepreneur.
A computer engineer, Duraiswamy started her career at Siemen’s in Bangalore, the tech powerhouse of India. “The building I sat in faced the leading technology players of the day” she recalls. “That was very motivating for me.” Facing those start-ups, Duraiswamy would catch herself daydreaming about the organization she wanted to build and the problems she wanted to solve. One day, she decided to just do it.
When she approached her manager with her resignation, he thought she was just stressed. He was hesitant to accept her resignation, and instead tried to convince her to take a leave of absence. She accepted it to end the conversation with no intention of coming back.
Duraiswamy invested $900 along with her classmate and two colleagues and launched Chimera in a friend’s garage. They had a vision to become a leading product development company that could create custom solutions for businesses.
But getting the business off the ground was challenging without broader business knowledge, including marketing, sales and finance. Duraiswamy did not know how to put together a proposal or how to read financial documents. “I don’t pretend I know things,” she says. “When I started, I was a technology person! I knew Java, C++, coding and all that. Everything else I’ve learned at Chimera.”
Within five months of launching, a friend referred Chimera to a large enterprise; the relationship blossomed into a 12-year partnership.
Twenty years later, Chimera has grown to a 150+ strong team providing digital, cloud and analytics solutions for more than 170 clients globally in the United States, Singapore, Hong Kong, Europe and Malaysia. More than 60% of its business is repeat customers.
“For me, it’s not about going out to win the contract,” Duraiswamy says. “I always want to build that one project into a relationship. Every customer we sign should stay with us for 10-15 years.”
Chimera encourages employees to focus on cultivating stronger relationships with their clients to anticipate future challenges and solve them before they affect the business. The more they learn about the client, the better they can explain what tech products can help them navigate a particular challenge or streamline business. During a global pandemic, reliable and intuitive technology systems have become even more critical for businesses’ operations and productivity.
Many of Chimera’s clients tell Duraiswamy that they don’t see many partners as involved and proactive as Chimera. They characterize this approach as “Chimera DNA.”
Three years ago, Duraiswamy heard about WEConnect International from a mentor and leading businessman in the United States. While she never saw herself as a strong networker, Duraiswamy thought the certification and networking could benefit Chimera.
In October 2020, Duraiswamy met the procurement team of a consumer and pharmaceutical company through WEConnect International’s Meet the Member event. Four months later, Chimera was hired to develop a proof of concept for one of their new initiatives and to participate in ongoing development of their internal productivity software. Now, Chimera is formally putting together a core team of architects and developers to respond to their changing digital needs. It has become one of Chimera’s key accounts.
Duraiswamy does not assign all the credit to the trademark “Chimera DNA”, noting the two-way relationship is critical for success. “I give equal credit to the company for the way they have treated us as a true partner, giving us new opportunities and supporting us,” she says.
This new partnership has allowed Chimera to expand its footprint in Singapore, a key market it has wanted to explore. As they continue to expand, they want to provide broader and deeper solutions within their product development and app management services, eventually developing a niche for AI & Analytics and Quality Assurance. These exciting developments, Duraiswamy predicts, will allow Chimera to grow to a team of more than 200 by March 2022.
And it all started in a garage with $900.
“We have learned so much in the last 20 years,” she reflects. “Every day there are challenges. If you enjoy what you have and you enjoy the journey, even the hardship is easier to handle.”
Chimera won WEConnect International’s 2021 Rise to the Challenge Information and Technology Award.