Faisal is one of those rare entrepreneurs who have managed to grow his business with no outside financing to significant scale. We discuss his journey here.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s go to the very beginning of your story. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Faisal Husain: My roots are from India, but I was actually born in West Africa in Nigeria. My parents had moved from India to Nigeria in search of jobs and they were in the education field. My father was a principal and my mother was a math teacher. While they were doing their jobs and building their careers in Nigeria, I was born there. I lived in Nigeria for 13 years. At that point, my parents decided to move back home to India. I was then home schooled for about three or four years, and then came to the United States.
I landed in Queens, New York. I started at a place called College of Aeronautics, pursuing Aeronautical Engineering. I completed that and then immediately started my Master’s. I decided to switch tracks to Computer Science for my Master’s because I wanted to go into the software engineering space. That’s my high level journey.
Sramana Mitra: What year did you come out of university?
Faisal Husain: I graduated in 1994 and I completed my Master’s in 1996.
Sramana Mitra: The Internet was just starting to come about at that point.
Faisal Husain: Yes. I remember the very early days of the Internet – things like gopher and IRC. People don’t probably know what that means today. I started working on a 386 computer. The Pentium chip came out when I was just starting my career in Computer Science.
Sramana Mitra: What did you do right after you finished your Master’s? What was your next move?
Faisal Husain: While I was doing my Master’s, I got an internship position as an entry level software developer at a software product company in Manhattan. It’s called Magna Software. Those were really the formative years. I was hired to be the person who would get a list of bugs. My job was to go find out what was causing these bugs. I learned to look at a lot of codes that was written by very experienced and skilled people. My job was to find what the error was. After I graduated, I was then hired full time by that firm. Then, I became an entry level software analyst.
Sramana Mitra: You stayed with that company for how long?
Faisal Husain: I stayed with that company for about four to five years until it went bankrupt. That, again, was a formative experience. I started working for that company in 1995. The company went into difficulties in 1998. We all lost our jobs. I then became a freelance consultant. I consulted for companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield. Eventually, I joined Merrill Lynch where I got exposed to the outsourcing and consulting industry. That was in 1999. In 2000, I, along with my two buddies, decided to launch the venture today that’s called Synechron.