iQuasar: Touching New Heights

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Undeterred by poor internet connectivity and official apathy, three friends started an IT company from a small room in Srinagar, a decade back. Saima Bhat catches up with one of the founders of iQuasar that he claims is now among America’s fastest growing software solution companies.

Office

With a Yoga management software and mobile applications for Google Store ready for world wide release, iQuasar is first Kashmir based software solution company to touch global heights.

Three friends came together, in late 2004, to start a software solution company that has now spread outside the geographical borders of valley. The software solutions company iQuasar, which employs around hundred software professionals globally, has its clients spread across three continents.

The friends, Tahir Qazi, Amin Bhat and Fayaz Ahmad Bhat, left their lucrative jobs as engineers to pursue their dream project, an IT company in Kashmir. It is the first Kashmir based IT Company which has its offices in USA, Canada, Germany, South Africa and Western African countries, besides offices in India.

With the help of Kashmiri IT professionals, iQuasar ventured into IT sector by developing banking software for clients in  Africa.

Soon iQuasar started getting new offers from America and Africa, which made them increase their staff. But before iQuasar could stand firmly on its feet, 2008 recession affected banking sector badly.

Tahir and his friends then shifted their focus to other related sectors like lines-professional services, software developing division, BPO services (technical writing) besides managing consultancy.

IT-kashmiri-Fayaz-Bhat

Fayaz Ahmad Bhat

The major breakthrough came when iQuasar was offered business by a company from Ghana for software implementation, post implementation support and help desk support.

Currently iQuasar is working on products for e-commerce, web content management, medical education and multiple site content management.

As iQuasar grew, Tahir Qazi and his friends decided to get it registered as a software developer for various mobile phone Apps, like IOS, Andriod and Windows.

Fayaz Ahmad Bhat, one of the company directors and its chief operating officer in Kashmir, feels iQuasar could have achieved more.

“If we would have been based in any other India state, we would have done better,” he argues.

“In 2004, when iQuasar started its operations from Kashmir, there was no high speed internet service available. We are growing but growth is slow,” says Bhat.

Bhat feels Kashmir is not an ideal place for an IT company. “We don’t even have uninterrupted electricity supply in Kashmir. Then there are accommodation issues and safety concerns which add to your woes.”

But Bhat says they have now learned the art of survival. “The backbone of any IT company is high-speed internet connectivity which Kashmir lacks,” says Bhat.

He  suggests  state  government  to  invest  in  infrastructure  which  will  provide  Kashmiri entrepreneurs platform to use their energies in creating value for its clients, themselves and for the state economy.

Bhat says that iQuasar has provided professional services to clients like state of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Virginia, and besides big international companies like AT&T, NASA (small software), Cingular Wireless, Comcast, Oracle are among their clients. Interestingly state government still relies on ‘outsider’ for their IT related problems. “Bureaucratic redtapism prevents state government from spending money on e-governance,” feels Bhat.

Bhat says that the idea behind iQuasar was to provide Kashmir based software designers employment opportunities. “Kashmiri designers have nowhere to go after they leave college. Out of 100 employees, 60 are based in Kashmir,” said Bhat.

iQuasar was started from a small room in Srinagar’s Regal Chowk, which was earlier called Musky Software Solutions Pvt. Ltd. It was in 2010 that Bhat and his friends sat together and changed it to iQuasar.

Not happy with the way state government has reacted to iQuasar so far, Bhat feels their company can employ between 4 and 5 thousand software designers if provided with a space for IT Park like Infosys. “The only support we have is from Jammu and Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development Institute,” says Bhat.

Bhat is hopeful that state government will finally recognize iQuasar as an emerging IT company which has a potential to reduce unemployment in the state to some extent.

Recently Union minister for Communication and Information Technology, Dr Kruparani Killi, said that state governments should give preference to locals IT companies before ‘outsourcing’ anything abroad.

“If that happens then we can hopefully provide IT solutions to state government as well,” says Bhat. iQuasar is among the fastest growing top 500 companies in America.

It is already Kashmir’s largest software development and knowledge process outsourcing company.

Though IT sector is still in its infancy in Kashmir, in last one decade around 25 new companies were established. At least six of them have their clientele scattered across four continents – Asia, Europe, North America and Africa.

Presently IT sector in Kashmir generates around Rs 40 crore yearly.

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