Sidd Ahmed wrote his own success narrative. He was born into a modest family that once resided in a thatched hut in Trichy, a thriving city in Tamil Nadu on the banks of the Cauvery River. Sidd Ahmed had six siblings. Due to backlogs, the engineering graduate’s degree took seven years to obtain. But he rose fast up the professional ladder, starting at Rs 1,200 per month as a marketing executive in Trichy, and eventually founded a US company whose revenue this year has surpassed $260 million (Rs 2114 crore). After a successful career as a headhunter in some of the top US firms, Sidd invested $500 to launch VDart as an IT staffing company in Alpharetta, Atlanta.Today, with a global workforce of 3700 employees operating from 10 countries, including a core team of 750 based in Trichy, VDart has expanded into software and product development as well.
According to Sidd, 51, who was born and raised in Trichy and completed his Class 12 education at St. John’s Vestry Anglo Indian Higher Secondary School, Trichy, in 1989, “VDart’s success story is being taught at IIM Trichy as a case study.” Sidd’s father had taken on several jobs to support his large family of eight members. He had worked as a driver, a farmer, a junk trader, and he had even attempted to make cattle medications. His mother was a teacher in an elementary school, but she quit to care for the kids. Sidd declares, “I consider myself to be the family’s most fortunate child.” “My mother claims that because of our financial circumstances, all of my older siblings attended Tamil-medium government schools, but I was determined to attend an English-medium school.”
Only after Sidd’s father relocated to Bahrain in order to take a job as a driver there did things start to get better. “I would say that my parents gave the gift of education to all of their children despite all of life’s challenges.” Sidd wanted to be a doctor, but he didn’t get into a medical college because he didn’t earn good grades in Class 12. After his elder brother persuaded him to pursue engineering after returning from Bahrain, he abandoned his B.Sc. Zoology course six months later.
“I was not accepted into any Trichy engineering colleges. I completed my B.Tech in computer science at Ghousia College of Engineering in Ramanagara, near Bengaluru, thanks to a place my brother secured for me there, says Sidd.
Sidd was a college student when he lost his father in 1992. In 1993, he finished college with twenty debts to pay off. However, he was able to find employment as a marketing executive at a computer training center in Trichy before finishing his degree, where he was paid Rs 1,2.
“My brother convinced me to finish my degree even though I wasn’t really interested in doing so. To get ahead, I worked during the day and studied at night. After three years, I finally received my degree,” recalls Sidd. “This degree saved my life; I couldn’t have traveled to the US without it. The situation would have been different if I had missed it. His first job helped shape his career path by teaching him the fundamentals of marketing and honing his communication abilities.
“It was my responsibility to visit schools each morning and speak with students about the value of computer education,” he explains. “After getting the interested students’ addresses, I would go to their homes, speak with the parents, and pitch the course.”
After working for another company in Trichy for almost a year as a business development executive (earning Rs 5,000 per month), he went on to work as a franchise manager for APTECH, a computer education company in Chennai. He began working for “Zero Wait,” a US-based company that hired software developers for its Chennai location, in 1996. Before going to work for CEI, another US corporation, he was employed there for roughly six months.
“I moved to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania in June 1997 and spent a year working for this company. I was tasked with recruiting software experts for them from China, India, and other international markets,” recalls Sidd, who returned to Zero Wait in the US and remained employed there until 2001.
He began working for Detroit-based Systel, a staff augmentation company, in 2001 and remained there until 2007 “I discovered that while we were hiring people from all over the world, the young people in my hometown of Trichy were not getting the opportunities,” says Sidd, who has worked for numerous companies.
“Only major towns like Chennai or Hyderabad could host the major IT companies. I therefore left Systel in 2007 with the goal of hiring young people from Trichy and launching my own business at the same time.
He began VDart in Alpharetta, Georgia, USA, with $500. In order to have some extra cash, he sold his house and vehicle and moved into an apartment where he launched his company. Sidd claims, “I was the only person in the US office.” He spent Rs 1.5 lakh in Trichy to build an office on the terrace of his home. “The company was founded by five individuals, all of whom are still involved today. We currently run our operations out of four venues in Trichy, the most recent being a state-of-the-art three-story structure with 650 seats.
Accenture, Cap Gemini, Infosys, Tech Mahindra, Delta Airlines, Coca-Cola, Toyota, and General Electric are a few of VDart’s clients. During the Covid epidemic, VDart encountered difficulties similar to those faced by other businesses. We were genuinely bleeding. There was not a single transaction. Sidd remembers it as awful. But even though no one was making any money, we made the decision to pay everyone’s salaries and not fire a single person. “As a result, we were able to keep our finest personnel and foster brand love among them. Actually, we provided our buses and drivers to transport patients for the hospitals in Trichy during the epidemic.
Sidd is wed to cosmetologist Sabina. The couple’s has a son, Zayd, 16, and daughter, Sara, 24. Sidd breaks down in tears as he describes how his family’s life has improved. “My mum is a devout woman who really believes in God. She is astounded by God’s kindness toward us and will never forget our previous days spent in a thatched hut. Sidd is a motivational speaker, an athlete, and a voracious reader. He enjoys using a variety of online platforms to provide young people advice on life, careers, and entrepreneurship.