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Key Idea: Take Advantage of Opportunities

Shiv saw the opportunity to couple his engineering and technology skills to solve problems others had left unsolved.  His company is named after a special place in India. He chose this because INDUS combines the first three letters of his home country with US, the abbreviation of his adopted country.

Key Question:


Keep your eyes open and your confidence up that you can help people solve problems.

Imagine how Shiv felt when he came to the realization, “I can do this.” What an inspiring (and frightening!) moment that must have been! Service companies sell what they know as much as they sell what they do.

Q: Once we recognize the opportunity to do something really special, as Shiv and his INDUS team have done, how do we take advantage of it?

A: Shiv had some great advice for business owners and we would all be wise to remember his words. Focus. Focus. Focus. That’s what he said. Know your key competencies and your key customers. Focus on those. Don’t try to be all things to all customers. Concentrate on what you can deliver well to a customer who finds what you deliver solves a business problem of his. It seems so simple, doesn’t it? Yet, so many of us take the shotgun approach to selling. Instead of delivering only what we do well to someone who needs it, we have a tendency to chase revenue dollars. It’s hard to turn a sale down and if we have to opportunity to make that sale, then we go for it.

Shiv says that if we stay focused, the money will take care of itself. We have heard this same sentiment, over and over again, from many successful entrepreneurs we have showcased here at Small Business School. Shiv knew he could successfully start his own business when he saw the match between his engineering and technology skills with the needs of his customers. When we see that match, we, too, need to capitalize on the opportunity, and not permit ourselves to be sidetracked by the isolated sales opportunity.

Think about it

Are you focused on delivering a few key products or services to a few key customers or industries?

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

Take Advantage of Opportunities

HATTIE: Okay, let me understand this. They wanted you to sell and service their products out of the Washington office and it would be your office and if you made money, great, and if you didn't you'd fall on your face.

SHIV: Absolutely. I did that from the second bedroom of my apartment.

HATTIE: And what year was that?

SHIV: This was 1987.

HATTIE: In 1987, how old were you in 1987?

SHIV: I was, maybe 14. (Big smile.) No, I was 31 years old.

HATTIE: Okay, you're 31.

SHIV: Thirty-one years old. We are in the business of selling our intellectual -- deploying our intellectual capital. You don't need a fancy office. You don't need a fancy anything. But you need the tools, a computer and maybe a printer or other storage. Then you need to have your brain. The ideas. I mean this is where it all evolves from. And the ones that have their feet on the ground, and continue to focus on the fundamentals of what do you need to develop and grow a business, they will be successful whether they have the money or not. The money is just a byproduct of success. If you don't have this, money cannot just buy that success.

I had a $10,000 contract within a month of starting. We delivered a system and a report which evolved into a half million dollar contract and then in a matter of about 3 or 4 years, I had about 100 people and several contracts.

HATTIE: And that was that other business.

SHIV: That was the other business.

HATTIE: That's not INDUS.

SHIV: That's not INDUS yet. But those were building blocks of that, and I parted company with them on very good terms and then said I'm going to start on my own. That's when I started INDUS.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Shiv chose the name INDUS in honor of his heritage. The INDUS Valley civilization flourished around 2500 BC in what today is Pakistan and Western India. As Shiv points out the name combines his homeland of India with his new land, the US. Mike Mullen was an INDUS first hire and today he is VP of Strategic Development.

MIKE MULLEN: So when I found out that Shiv wanted to build a real business, I asked him what I could do to help, and since then back in 1992, '93 timeframe, he just continued to give me the challenges in the learning environment for me to continue to work with a growing company.

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