Today, when you hear of an Indian entrepreneur running a software and training solutions firm in the US, it doesn’t sound so remarkable. When you realize that the firm was started over two decades ago, long before India was known as ‘knowledge economy’, or when you realize that most of her customer base includes departments and agencies of the US—remarkable seems inadequate a term.
The journey for Dolly Oberoi, CEO of C2 Technologies, Inc, a first-generation Indian, was riddled with challenges. Visiting the US to look for technology solutions for her mother’s educational society, Dolly realized that it wasn’t going to be as simple as that. There were no ready solutions, so she decided to obtain a Masters in Interactive Technologies from Harvard University. “The day I landed in the US [in 1984], Apple introduced the Mac. With 200 bucks in my pocket and a backpack, I decided to embark on my own entrepreneurial journey that continues today,” says Dolly.
In 1989, Dolly started C2 Technologies, Inc as an e-learning solutions company. Initially the going was tough—not because of her country of origin but more because of her lack of experience and because she was a woman in a male-dominated industry. Using Harvard as her calling card certainly helped, as did her persistence and creative thinking. She says, “I always say that entrepreneurship is not about starting companies. It is about being resourceful, thinking outside of the box, and being innovative, to make things happen.”
Over the years, the company has grown consistently—even growing in these challenging economic times. Today, the firm services 100 marquee clients, including the Department of Defense. It has grown to be a USD 60 million company and aims to grow to USD 100 million soon.
Today, Dolly’s country of origin is obviously a plus in her favour, given the acceptance of India as a major player in the area of technology. It is not unusual to come across Indians leading technology practices across the country. Says Dolly, “In fact, there are at least 25 people of Indian origin heading the technology divisions in various US government agencies. Even President Obama’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO) is a PIO.” Indians continue to be regarded very highly in the US.
Dolly’s involvement in the Indian community is extensive. She is part of the Washington DC chapter of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE). She also continues to support her parents’ Oberoi Education Society in New Delhi, India.
While she is an NRI, Dolly sees herself as more of a global citizen. Her team enjoys the trust of some of the most critical government agencies and companies in the US. Her journey hasn’t gone unnoticed. She has several accolades to her credit, including the Bravo Award, INDUS Women Leaders Award, Pride of India, the Women Who Mean Business award, and a finalist as an Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year. It was under her leadership that C˛ was a finalist for GovCon’s prestigious Contractor of the Year award. For someone who came as a tourist, Dolly Oberoi has certainly come a long way!