Headstrong is a global IT consulting company with presence across North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific, operating in more than 14 locations. It was formed in 2000 when Arjun Malhotra led Techspan was merged with James Martin Associates (by Dr. James Martin) who today sits as Headstrong's chairman emeritus. Arjun Malhotra became Chairman & CEO of Headstrong in 2004.
In 2006, Headstrong reached 2,000-employee headcount worldwide. The company experiences more than 30% revenue growth year-on-year since 2006.
The company launched business product innovations in the United States like the integration of rules and Object Oriented methods, the first hypertext methodology, and the value stream approach in 1991. The company evolved into a leading systems integrator. A year later, James Martin & Company acquired PACT Group, strengthening assets of the Global Delivery Center in Manila, Philippines to support application maintenance outsourcing and related activities.
In 1996, HCL James Martin Inc., a joint venture between HCL and James Martin & Company, was formed to provide systems redevelopment solutions, including Year 2000 renovation.
TechSpan, which would play a significant role in Headstrong’s future, was conceptualized and founded by some of India’s key IT minds. Focusing on three verticals—telecom, financial, and ERP—TechSpan quickly changed gears to address the emerging e-commerce needs, creating its own version dubbed c-Commerce (Collaborative Commerce).
The company received US$191 million in equity financing – $173 million from Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe (WCAS) and $18 million from H&Q Asia Pacific – and changed its name to Headstrong.
Another major milestone for the company in the turn of the century is its acquisition of Chicago-based Faber Consulting, strengthening the firm’s focus on business intelligence.
In 2002, Headstrong released third generation of dPACE (Plan, Activate, Control, End) project management methodology to support distributed projects, and named Kevin Dougherty president and CEO worldwide.
In the next year, Headstrong would enter a new era with its merger with India-based TechSpan, automatically scaling its infrastructure and human assets with 400 more professionals and two offshore centers in India. Also in this year, the Global Delivery Center in Manila would be certified for ISO-9001:2000 Quality Standard by TUV Rheinland Berlin Brandenburg.
Arjun Malhotra, former TechSpan CEO and chairman and co-founder of HCL Technologies, was appointed as CEO in 2004, and continues in his position as Chairman of Headstrong's Board of Directors. Also during this year, Headstrong’s global delivery center in Bangalore is awarded SEI CMM Level 3 Process Maturity rating while its NOIDA and Manila GDCs with CMM Level 5 and CMMi Level 3, respectively.
In the following year Headstrong launches STRIDE CROSS Analysis, which enables buy-side and sell-side institutions to measure potential savings from using an internal crossing engine, and is named by managing Offshore and neoIT in the “Offshore 100 List”.
2006 sees Headstrong surpassing the 2000-employee headcount and continuing to enjoy 40 percent growth. Headstrong is recognized as one of the The 2006 Global Services 100 by Global Services magazine and neoIT, and is named to The Global Outsourcing 100 by The International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP). Headstrong joins The Bond Market Association to participate and lead on industry-wide issues in a shared forum.
Also in 2006, Headstrong Philippines receives the Cyberservices Pioneer Award for foreign-owned third-party software developer from the Philippine Commission on Information and Communication Technology. Furthermore, the Global Delivery Center in Manila is re-certified for ISO-9001:2000 Quality Standard by TUV Rheinland Berlin Brandenburg. Lastly, Headstrong Delivery Centers in Bangalore is certified for ISO 27001:2005 by BSI Management Systems.
Headstrong was recognized again, in 2007, in The Global Services 100 by Global Services magazine and neoIT; and named for the second consecutive year to The Global Outsourcing 100 by IAOP. TechSpan India Limited, which changed its name to Headstrong Services India Private Limited, inaugurated its 150,000 square feet capital markets center in NOIDA, Uttar Pradesh. Also the same year, Headstrong was positioned in the Niche Players Quadrant for Magic Quadrant North American Offshore Application Services. Headstrong ranked among top 100 technology providers to the financial services industry by American Banker and Financial Insights, an IDC company, and lastly, in 2007, Headstrong’s Recruitment Ad garnered Times of India Award.
In 2008, Headstrong was recognized in the Global Services 100, and ranked 33rd in The Global Outsourcing 100—receiving such accolades from the two award giving bodies for the third consecutive year. Headstrong was also included for the first time in the VARBusiness 500 as one of North America’s largest solutions providers. Also this year, Headstrong set up its Hyderabad Center of Excellence (CoE) in the Banjara Hills, and formed an alliance with Gallagher Financial Systems.
“For the India offshore we identified Harsh Lohit and Bonnie Singh,” Malhotra narrated. “With the founding team in place we had Mr. KPG Nair join us in India as our first employee and Lulu Rius join us in the US.”
TechSpan initially focused on three verticals—telecom, financial, and ERP. The India recruitment and training started in September 1998 while the US sales stated in January 1999. Within the company’s first six weeks in the field, the executives realized that the market was requiring something else. They wanted e-Commerce related work to be done.
“We switched gears and strategy quickly and started addressing the need,” Malhotra said. “We built our strategy in collaboration with the myriad of new product vendors that were mushrooming at that time.”
TechSpan branded its version of e-Commerce as c-Commerce or Collaborative Commerce, which worked well for the company. TechSpan decided to deliberately slow down its growth in 2000, which helped the company get through the bubble burst during the first quarter of 2001. The management and employees had to adjust to ensure that the company would stay cash neutral. “Our profits from 2000 really helped us thru the lean patch,” said Malhotra. “I have to acknowledge the management team that took a 28% pay cut and all employees took a 10% pay cut so we did not have to layoff anyone at that time.”
Like other companies who survived the initial shock of the bubble bursting, TechSpan’s leadership was waiting and watching the economy. But waiting would not help. In late 2001, the executive team devised a strategy and focused on the Capital Markets. TechSpan built its expertise in the US and India, through the acquisition of WebTek in Bangalore.
TechSpan was a $30-million company when it merged with Headstrong in October 2003.
“Headstrong seemed to get us want we wanted in our original dream in TechSpan,” Malhotra remarked. “Headstrong had the consulting strength; TechSpan knew outsourcing. We got a global footprint and we got a mature offshore center at Manila.”