Rajesh Setty

A writer, a teacher and an entrepreneur; Rajesh Setty, 35, Chairman and co-founder of CIGNEX Technologies, is a renaissance man in the truest sense. Since publishing a novel at the age of 13, Setty has never looked back, exploring and excelling in a myriad of fields. As CEO of CIGNEX, Rajesh quickly established the company as a leader in the world of open-source business software while increasing revenue by an average of 250%. He has become a prolific blogger, continues to teach regularly, is a frequent guest speaker and has most recently published his seventh book Beyond Code. Rajesh does all this in an effort to share and pass on the knowledge and expertise he has acquired over the years. This week’s Young and Professional profile zooms in on Setty and his outstanding achievements. 

About the company

CIGNEX helps customers reduce costs and minimize business risks by helping them choose and implement the right open-source technologies to solve their business problems. With more than 50 successful open-source implementations, CIGNEX is the leader in open-source business software solutions for content management and portals, application server migration, customer relationship management (CRM), and business intelligence.

What are your responsibilities?

In my role as chairman and chief evangelist, I am involved in helping shape the vision and direction of the company. I am also involved in evangelizing the use of open source in large and medium size enteprises within the United States and beyond.

Past Ventures

Earlier I was responsible for founding two other startups:

1. It was an interesting experience. The first company was a training company that I founded with two other friends as soon as we got out of college. Before we realized what happened, the company crashed and was no more. It was a great way to experience the importance of experience

2. The second startup that I was involved was the Malaysian company and I was the accidental hero that either had to take charge and prove my entrepreneurial mettle or leave the job. Luckily I chose the first option and learned valuable lessons in entrepreneurship “on the job”.

Most notable milestones

  • Wrote a novel when I was nine. Got it published by the time I was thirteen
  • Solid academic record 20th rank for the state in Class X (out of 400,000 students)
    2nd rank for the state in Class XII (out of 160,000 students)
    4th rank for the University in Bachelor of Engineering
  • Co-founded CIGNEX with four others by bootstrapping from ground up. Was the CEO until May 2005. During my tenure, the revenues grew at an average of 250% and above. More important, the company continues to be profitable and cash flow positive since its inception.
  • Recently published “Beyond Code” (my seventh book but first one in the US) has foreword by Tom Peters. Both the book and the foreword by Tom was a dream come true.


Unexpected learnings along the way

Having founded the company in the worst of the economic times, myself and the other founders had a ton of learning “on the job”. Some of the things that I learned were the following:

1. Timing is important (actually, make it VERY important): You can have the best team and the best ideas but you have it “time it” well too.

2. Agility is key. We changed our business model multiple times before we get it right. Being nimble helped us a lot.

3. Chasing the right “opportunities” in business and in life. Earlier in the company, everything looked like an opportunity. So we would spend a ton of time chasing the wrong opportunities and in the process miss some “real” opportunities. Once we fixed that problem our ROI shot up.

What’s the niche?

Nothing I guess. If you insist on me answering the question – it’s the combination of being an entrepreneur, author and a teacher.

What’s the biggest challenge?

Biggest challenge continues to be the time. I have more ideas to work on than I have the time to work on them.

What’s in store for the future?

I will continue to work in the three areas I am passionate about: Entrepreneurship, Writing and Teaching

Who would you like to be contacted by?

  • Anyone working on exciting, innovative or creative stuff.
  • Entrepreneurs or folks aspiring to be entrepreneurs
  • Authors who are working on business books