Founder & CEO of Authbridge Research Services.
Ajay Trehan is a pioneer in modern background screening processes.
He founded AuthBridge in 2005 and has piloted its emergence into a quality-driven organisations working with some of the best known corporate brands, including Fortune 500 companies.
Before he turned into an entrepreneur, Ajay had a career with ICI India,where he held senior positions in operations and sales.
His ability to recognize business opportunities when markets and technologies are in transition promoted him to co-create CORE BPO, which specialized in business process outsourcing solutions for the UK real estate industry.
Ajay holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from IIT, Delhi. He is also a certified ISO 9000 auditor.
“Technology and innovation,” he says, “will ensure that the future for background screening service providers is not what it used to be. That’s how I devised ways to combine innovation and technology with HR practices and founded AuthBridge.
For us the future is now.”
Here’s Ajay professional journey in his own words:
“The foundation for my value system was laid by my grandfather. He told me to take charge of my own destiny. ‘Don’t look at what others are doing and how they are doing what they are doing,’ he used to say, ‘take control of what you are doing and do it with complete commitment. Success is inevitable.’
In my years growing up I developed a knack for solving problems. It’s this propensity to look for a solution, rather than get weighed down endlessly discussing the problem, that took me to a gold-plated institution like the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT).
To find myself at IIT was thrilling and humbling at the same time. This is where the country’s best brains were meant to congregate and to find myself among them was extraordinary.
The four years I spent at IIT I realized that we were never competing with one another. Sure, we were competing in problem-solving skills, but frequently we were collaborating to solve problems.
If today my problem solving skills are acknowledged and appreciated it is because of the years that I spent honing those skills in my formative years.
From the campus I was hired as a Management Trainee by Shriram Industrial Enterprises Limited (SIEL, erstwhile DCM group). That experience of two years gave me a strong foundation.
I worked on the shop floor and looked at multiple industries and businesses from really close quarters—chemicals, consumer products, white goods, etc.
From SIEL, I moved to ICI as Technical Support Manager for their catalyst business in Kanpur. I was part of the team that built the new factory in Kanpur and that was quite an experience.
Working with a mix of people—hugely experienced people with some 20-25 years of work experience, as well as bright young managers—I came to the conclusion that talent is not only to be found in Ivy League schools; there is no substitute for hands-on experience.
You need to have an eye to be able to spot talent and that has become my mantra.
ICI had some outstanding people in the organisations and from them I learnt not only to work independently but with accountability.
Engineers in senior positions had the expertise of finance specialists and vice versa. I realised that this is how great businesses are built.
It’s at this time that I first read the process improvement masterpiece “The Goal” by Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox.
Its learnings have always stayed with me and I have used them many times in many situations, especially when we were building workflow automation at AuthBridge.
Exciting, and enriching, though my corporate journey was, it’s as if everything that I had learnt thus far was pointing me in the direction of the road to entrepreneurship. That was my true calling.
It started as we stepped into the new millennium. In the year 2000, a friend of mine reached out to me and the two of us set up Webrizon, a software services company.
To leave the comfort of a salaried job and to throw yourself into the deep end of an entrepreneurial venture, you need the support of your loved ones. And, remember, this was at a time when entrepreneurship hadn’t quite become the trendsetter that it now is.
I received unstinted support from my wife and I was able to test out the theory—greater the risk, greater the reward.
No wonder that entrepreneurs cut the safety lines and from the comfort of a corporate job, working 40 hours a week, they plunge into the unknown and work 100 hours a week. And hundred hours a week not for one day or one week but for months and years.
Entrepreneurs do it because they have the fire in the belly; they want to do something great, to solve real problems and to build a business from scratch.
My experience as an entrepreneur has taught me to take the highs with the lows. Don’t be too smug when it’s going well; times when your patience and risk-taking ability will be tested will inevitably come.
For enjoying the bliss of highs and weathering the disappointment of lows is what entrepreneurship is all about.
Webrizon did reasonably well at first and certainly we were able to put together an enviable team. Then, suddenly, the environment changed; the dot com boom went bust and we had to transform ourselves from a services company to a product company.
Ordeal by fire is how I would describe the Webrizon experience. Great learning, though at the time it was happening it seemed anything but a great experience. However, the time at Webrizon toughened me up both as a professional and as a resolute human being.
From Webrizon, I hooked up with another friend and we set about creating a super niche back office operation. CoreBPO. Anuj, my friend and me, set up a 300-strong organisation quickly.
We learnt in a couple of years that it did not make sense to limit ourselves to a particular domain. After all, there were many other, larger, BPOs and for them the domain we were trying to specialise in was merely one of several.
The realisation came late but every experience prepares you for the road ahead. And so did my CoreBPO experience. As the brilliant Financial Times columnist Tim Harford writes in his book Adapt: Why Success Always Starts With Failure wrote:
“Few of our own failures are fatal.”
Indeed success comes through admitting your mistakes, rapidly fixing them, rather than focusing on getting things right the first time, every time,and in the process trying to fix something that’s gone broke.
So, with all the varied experience of a corporate executive-turned-entrepreneur, I founded AuthBridge in 2005. Eleven exciting years later, I wake up in the morning eager to get to work, eager to engage with my colleagues and clients, eager to learn something new.
Not a single day has gone by in these eleven marvelous years that I have not learnt something new. Or found an opportunity to do something differently.
Someone once said (who I am not sure) that to get something you never had; you have to do something you’ve never done. It’s really as simple as that.”