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Key Idea: Be Willing to Start Small

Founder Shiv Krishnan started his company knowing that he was selling brain power.     More...

Key Question:


Shiv and Meena didn’t start INDUS with fancy offices. Shiv needed a telephone, a computer and a printer, all of which he kept in his apartment, to deliver his first product to his first customer. He had no office and he had no employees.

Q: If you have a good idea for a business, and you want to give it a try, what do you really need?

A: First, you need to be able to communicate with customers and potential customers. That means you need a cell phone and e-mail. You probably already have both. Then, you need the raw materials, the capital assets and the inventory you have to have to deliver the product or service you will sell. Depending on the lead time to acquire these, you may very well be able to delay the purchase until you have your first purchase order from a customer. Finally, you need the labor. In Shiv’s case, he provided the labor for the first few jobs. He didn’t need employees to do the work nor to support the organization. If you can’t do the work yourself, perhaps you can attract some qualified individuals on a contract basis to assist you. You can be looking for those individuals at the same time you are hunting for that first customer.

Think about it

have a good idea for starting your own business? How much money do you really need to obtain and deliver that first sale? What are you waiting for?

Clip from: INDUS - Diversity & Mentoring

From Just a Job to Being an Owner

Washington, DC: In 1979 Shiv Krishnan arrived here from Madras, India to go to college. He got a job and was doing well.  But in 1991 he risked everything to start his own business.  INDUS would be a technology innovator.  He did well. Today this company has 500+ employees and major clients including the US government.  They do Geographic Information Systems (GIS), database management, data warehousing and  mining, and more.

This story is about an immigrant to America. Like so many, he came with nothing, got a job to save money to start a business. When he put it all at risk,  he knew his safety net was to go get another job.  It wasn't easy... but that's the USA. This country is a beacon and inspiration to the entrepreneurial spirit within all of humanity.  When freedom rings,  new songs are written!

Shiv is a person who is open to learning from everyone. He empowers that  attitude among his employees, his suppliers, and his customers. He mentors people and he is always open to being mentored.  INDUS is part of SAIC's Mentor-Protégé program which has helped this business to grow. 

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INDUS Corporation

Shiv Krishnan, Founder

1951 Kidwell Drive, Eighth Floor
Vienna, VA 22182

Visit our web site:

Office: 7035066700

Business Classification:
Information Services

Year Founded: 1991

Be Willing to Start Small

SHIV: We were a $20,000 a year business, then a $75,000 a year business and then we've grown steadily. The one key advice that I can give other business owners out there is focus, focus, focus. Do not try to be everything to everybody.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Shiv and his wife Meena have two daughters. The family lives just a few minutes away from the office in a new 10,000 square foot home they designed themselves for maximum family fun.

SHIV: I count my blessings every day for what I have been able to do. I do honestly think that it has been given to me through the good things that my grandfather, my grandparents and my parents -- others before me did.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Shiv earned a masters degree in chemical engineering in the US and that led him in 1980 to a job working for the state of Virginia.

SHIV: My job was to figure out, what kind of chemicals are they going to be using? What are they manufacturing? How much is it going to go into the air? How much into the water? How much is going to be hazardous, and I figured that with my education, I can probably build a model and model this whole thing and wrote a computer program and using punch cards -- type it up and then it'll punch all those holes in those cards.

We'll get a stack of cards and literally take it to a card reader machine and put it in there. It'll go flap, flap, flap, the cards will be read and the program can be printed at the time. And then a company named Versar hired me and they were in the business of working with the government on the other side as a contractor.

HATTIE: As a supplier.

SHIV: As a consultant. So, when I went there I kept up with my computer skills. In the meantime I took some additional computer courses and all of that and moved on to generating computer graphics, showcasing how all these chemicals and the hazardous waste and all of that moved through the environment using computer graphics.

So, I got really challenged in understanding how to do all of this and got really fascinated by the material. And that's the time when probably my internal desire to, 'Hey, I can do this by starting a business on my own.'

The opportunities here are for you to take.

So as an opportunity, where a very small company (Versar) in Hampton Rhodes, Virginia they approached me. I'd known the principles over the years.

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