Programming The Road To Success

DQC News Bureau
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It is very rare to come across someone who is a successful programmer,

despite not having even a college degree. Having experienced his share of ups

and downs, Kesavardhanan is today a man of substance in the true sense


None except J Kesavardhanan could have imagined that he would emerge as a

successful programmer, immediately after completing his schooling. Hailing from

a middle-class family, studies were not something he wanted to pursue seriously.

He wanted to get our of school as soon as he could and get a job.

While his school friends were busy filling out application forms for the

colleges they would like to go to, Kesavardhanan joined a computer course, which

he found more interesting.

“As soon as I stepped out of school, I joined a computer institute. There I

learnt COBOL and FORTRON computer languages with great passion.


My quest for programming moti­vated me to study C and C++ on my own through

various refe­rence books,” said Kesavardhanan or Kesavan, the name by which he

is well known in the industry.

To say that his parents were shocked would be an under­statement. To add to

their dismay he had chosen com­puters as his career. This was at a time when the

IT industry was at its embryological stage. However, this didn't bog down

Kesavan. He moved ahead towards his chosen career with determination.

J Kesavardhanan CTO and CEO,

K7 Computing : The diehard programmer and entrepreneur


The turning point

After gaining some programming knowledge, Kesavan started his career as a

developer in a company called Edicomp in 1984. “It was a small software firm,

where I implemented all my knowledge. Gradually, besides programming, my

interest inclined towards the hardware side too, which upgraded my computer

knowledge,” he informed.

His next employer was an auditing company where he joined as system

programmer for their project. The search for more skills and challenges placed

him in Codi Computers, where he was a part of the hospital management system

development. This job gave him a lot of insight into the coding part and also a

fair amount of knowledge about the computer viruses.

“This was a turning point in my life as it was when I happened to encounter a

lot of viruses. By 1990, these viruses started affecting the industry and it was

really interesting to counter them by merely writing codes. Though that was not

an easy job, I loved doing it, since I felt it was more challenging and a

knowledge provoking exercise,” revealed Kesavan.


His first development product was VX2000, which went as a free subscription

along with his friend's magazine 'Sys Reader' for programmers. The product got

good feedback from readers, and buoyed by this response he developed more

confidence on his ability and started a new company of his own.

The K7 saga

In 1991, this man, who had complete confidence on his product development

ability, started his own company called 'K7 Computing'. The venue for his

company was 200sq ft room in his home with rented computers from his friend.

“Along with the VX2000, I developed two more products and launched all of

them in the exhibition conducted by CSI in 1991. Since then, there was no

looking back. I started deve­loping more antivirus solutions and supplied it as

a freeware,” Kesavan recalled.


As he started developing more solutions, Kesavan cut down all his other

activities and started focusing more on the development part alone. Though, he

had no interest in commercializing his solutions and was content with what he

received through his business, but that turned out to be a major difficulty for

him at a later stage.

His family was upset with him initially, but they slowly began to understand

him. “I started earning immediately after I left school. I never wasted my time

sitting idle at home and always spent my time reading computer books. I was also

teaching a lot during that time on product developments and was earning through

that part too. They were happy after learning that I am on the right track and

stood by me during all my difficult times,” Kesavan said with a smile.

Growth and expansions

Though K7 Computing didn't get enough appreciation for its work when it

started, Kesavan continued his efforts. He opened branches across the country

through the income that came from the products he developed. Slowly the company

started getting recognition in the industry and it spread its wings overseas as



“A company called Cybermedia from US approached me. I presented them a demo

in two days. Being impressed by us, they took me as a part of their product 'PC9

11', which was a diagnostic product for DOS. We earned in dollars at that point

of time. I increased my company's presence at every corner of India. That was a

very bad decision I took and it cost me heavily,” informed Kesavan.

A bigger company later acquired Cybermedia and it grew a lot. However, K7

Computing was not able to match that growth. “I myself handled all the

operations of the company, from developing the software to marketing it. We

started losing a lot as we were unable to combat the growing market

single-handedly. The competition was huge and due to the lack of marketing

tactics, we had to close down our offices at other places,” Kesavan recalled.

Sheer confidence

Though his business faced several bad times, this didn't render Kesavan

hopeless. “By 2000 (which was also the starting of dot com era), I developed a

solution called 'Virtual desktop', with which one can login to their desktops

from anywhere. But as the product started getting established, the market

crashed, and we could not cope with that. It was a huge blow to our

expectations,” said Kesavan.


After this loss, he shifted his complete focus on the security division and

started developing different antivirus solutions and total security products. “I

never lost hope and never looked back at my defeats. Instead, I started focusing

more on my core area of interest, ie antivirus domain. With the confidence I had

in my ability and technical skills, I developed several total security products

that countered the viruses. Again, my products started getting acclaimed in the

industry, and at that point of time, I got an opportunity from McAfee for being

acquired for around $20 million,” claimed Kesavan.

Even though the amount was a huge one, he declined the offer, as he wasn't

attracted by the amount and wanted to deliver a purely Indian product out of

India. “Many of my friends called me a fool for rejecting the offer for

acquisition, however, it never bothered me. The confidence I had in me provided

me another lease on life. Then a Japanese company named 'Source Next' approached

me for marketing my antivirus product after evaluating it and understanding its

capabilities,” said Kesavan.

But he knew that he was never going to compete with major giants like

Symantec and McAfee. K7 Computing has approximately four million installed

Japanese users till date. Kesavan always wanted to comeback to the Indian market

and after establishing the company's total security products in Japan, he did

that. “This feat in Japan gave us a lot of confidence and maturity. Coming back

to the Indian market has always been my wish, and I have been able to do that by

building a strong team. The previous experiences have given us a lot of exposure

and maturity, and a good learning,” Kesavan asserted.

He doesn't want to repeat the same mistake he did last time by directly

involving himself in marketing his products. He is moving through channels by

keeping his complete focus on the development part alone. “My friend John

Devasahayam has been a part of the development in big software companies, and

looks after the marketing and other portfolios. Till date we are strong in the

desktop security alone, however, we want to

enter the enterprise and mobile sectors security division too.

We propose to do so in another six months time,” Kesavan asserted.

Kesavan hardly regrets the various turns his life has taken. His

self-confidence and never-give-up attitude has always been a part of his

personality, and has played a major role in his success. He attributes all his

success to Pulikesi, who taught him the basics of programming in the institute,

where he learnt all the fundamentals of programming immediately after stepping

out of school.

While Kesavan does not advocate that students drop out of college and imitate

his success story, he has made a point in life. Degrees do not decide the

temerity of success nor can their lack affect the determination of a die-hard