Palnar’s Office at Technopark in year 2003
TechnoparkToday, October, 2023 – Palnar Transmedia, one of the pioneering start-ups in Kerala’s vibrant IT landscape, is set to celebrate its 25th anniversary this week. What began as Palnar Transmedia Private Limited in 1997 has since transformed into iworxs GmbH and Company, a thriving IT enterprise with a global presence. With over a hundred skilled programmers working from both Technopark in Kerala’s capital and its New Jersey center in the United States, iworxs has come a long way from its humble beginnings.
Back in 1997, the company’s headquarters consisted of a Compaq 486 computer, a dial-up modem, a pedestal fan, and a small table with just two chairs. This makeshift office occupied a mere 150 sq ft space within Technopark, Thiruvananthapuram, reflecting the company’s modest origins as one of Kerala’s first start-ups.
The brainchild behind this ambitious venture was Syed Ibrahim, who had embarked on his IT career at a German company within Technopark during the park’s inception. After two years, Syed, along with his colleague Sreejith Narayan, decided to take the entrepreneurial leap. While Sreejith Narayan ventured to the United States in 1998 to establish the company’s American operations, Syed Ibrahim laid the groundwork for the Indian operations within Technopark.
Syed Ibrahim, now the Managing Director of iworxs, recalled those early days, saying, “During that period, the Technopark campus had just the park center and two fully occupied buildings. We approached K.G. Satheesh Kumar, who was heading Technopark, requesting a small space. He allocated us 150 sq ft in one of the buildings, the only available space at the time. Sreejith had sent seed funding of $650 to kickstart the company, but back then, the concept of a start-up wasn’t very familiar.”
With Syed’s strong connections in Germany, the company decided to leverage its strengths and primarily cater to German clients. “We collected printed company directories for various German cities, wrote to them, and even traveled to Germany to meet potential customers. Out of a hundred such meetings, around five were successful, as Germans were initially hesitant to offshore work to India,” Syed explained. Their first client hailed from Frankfurt, commissioning software for public utilities and municipal offices. Initially, two programmers were hired, but as more projects poured in from various sectors, the team rapidly expanded.
Simultaneously, Sreejith Narayan, the founder director of Palnar USA, was scaling up operations in the United States. Over the years, iworxs completed numerous projects, with a significant focus on Germany, as well as Switzerland and Austria, where German-speaking regions prevailed. Their project portfolio encompassed diverse domains, including retail, green energy, and parking system software.
Anoop Ambika, CEO of Kerala Startup Mission, reflected on Syed Ibrahim’s journey, stating, “Mr. Ibrahim is perhaps the first entrepreneur nurtured by the Technopark ecosystem. Starting a company was quite challenging during those days, as you were essentially on your own. Since then, the start-up ecosystem has evolved significantly, with the presence of funders, mentors, and grants.”
The 25th anniversary of iworxs will be celebrated at a special function held in Kerala’s capital on Saturday. Sindhu Gangadharan, Senior Vice-President and Managing Director of SAP Labs India, is slated to deliver the keynote address, marking a momentous milestone in the company’s remarkable journey from a small office to a global IT powerhouse