VK Mathews’ aviation industry giant IBS Software has been valued at around $1.4 billion (over Rs 11,500 crore) with Apax Funds set to acquire Blackstone’s minority stake of 32 percent for $450 million. Over 25 years ago, the entrepreneur left what would be termed a ‘dream job’, filled with the riches Dubai has to offer, to start a small IT business in India.
Valayil Korath Mathews has an interesting career trajectory. Born in Kizhakkambalam village of Kerala, he is the son of one of Federal Bank’s founding managers. After schooling and graduation in home state Kerala, Mathews pursued PG in Aeronautical Engineering from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur.
He started his career as a computer science teacher at the Indian Army’s military college in 1980. Mathews soon realised that teaching was not for him and joined Air India as a systems analyst. He then moved to Dubai’s Emirates airline in 1983, where he rose over a career of more than a decade to become their youngest IT head aged just 39.
Not even 40, Mathews enjoys a dream lifestyle and career in the rich oasis of Dubai. He, wife Latha and two children resided in an exquisite villa. Major expenses like children’s education were paid by his company. Mathews could choose between luxury cars like Mercedes, Lincoln and BMW in his top job. While many would have stayed, Mathews quit all the good fortune and decided to take the risk of his life.
He came back to India and founded IBS software in 1997 in Kerala’s first IT hub Technopark. What started as a small company with 55 engineers grew into a pioneer which revolutionised how airlines fly customers. IBS is not just the top aviation service provider today but manages the famous Heathrow Airport of London, UK. Its solutions are used by many airlines, dozens of hotel chains and major oil corporations. Success, in Mathews’ words, is “ our journey from one failure to another without losing our zest.”