Friday, January 27, 2023 Jan 27, 2023
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Business

Lunch With D CEO: Gurvendra Suri

The founder of Optimal Solutions Integrations Inc. talks about moving on.
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It was past 9 p.m., and Gurvendra Suri still hadn’t signed the documents. He and his executive team at Optimal Solutions Integrations had worked on the deal for weeks. Suri had come close to selling his company once before, but at the last second it hadn’t worked out. Now it was time. They’d worked out all the numbers. The deal looked good all around. But this was a company Suri started himself. He had built it over 19 years into one of the largest IT consulting firms in North America. It felt like letting go of a child. So there, unsigned in his office, sat the papers that would turn Optimal Solutions over to NTT DATA, the sixth-largest IT company in the world. Nine o’clock turned into 9:30. Then 10. Then it was almost 10:30. His phone rang over and over. Everyone was waiting. All he had to do was sign.


A close confidant, an associate Suri had worked with for nearly two decades, told him it was time to send this child out into the world. A contact at NTT called and assured him that his clients and employees would be well taken care of. Suri would even stay with the company for six months to oversee the transition. So, after more than an hour-and-a-half of quiet contemplation, he signed. Then he went home to his family in Southlake, where they had a small, subdued celebration. 


Now, the six months long past, Suri has left the company as planned, and life is different. “I am very, very blessed,” he tells me. His voice is gentle and calming. We’re sitting in the sun at the Café On the Green at the Four Seasons in Las Colinas, looking out at the lush golf course. This is one of his favorite lunch spots. Because he’s both vegetarian and gluten-intolerant, they bring him a special menu. He has the vegetable wraps—what look like deliciously crunchy, red pepper-filled tacos—with a side of French fries.


He’s telling me about what he’s working on now, a new venture he can’t say much about, except that it will be important. “It has the potential to be very, very big,” Suri says. “It could change the way all of us make purchases.”


These days, most of his time is spent thinking of big-picture things. Suri—and he insists you call him Suri—looks at the world and wonders how it might be more efficient. He says he has a list in his head of 10 or 12 ideas, solutions to problems in the world. “Opportunities,” he calls them. 


Some are ideas for companies and products, like the one he can’t tell me about. Some are concepts that might help nonprofit organizations. He spends a lot of time working with a variety of charities through the Sikh community in Dallas and elsewhere—in 2003 he founded Beyond Borders with a $3 million endowment—and these are the kinds of things he thinks about.


He says, for example, that he’d like to see food banks implement some sort of skill-building incentives for the people receiving groceries. Right now it’s a matter of finding the right technology to track progress, he says, both on the individual and institutional levels. (Then there’s the delicate process of introducing such an idea to the people most affected.)


Most of his time is spent thinking of big-picture things. Suri looks at the world and wonders how it might be more efficient.

As he’s talking about—or not talking about—this new business concept he’s working on, he’s excited. And he’s confident. I have no clue what this new company will do, but he has me excited about it, too. It’s not just his demeanor, either. His record is pretty stellar. After he created Optimal Solutions, the company grew every quarter, even through the dot-com bust of the early 2000s and the 2008 recession. I plead for more info on the new venture. A hint. Anything.


Every point-of-sale interaction could be different, he says, “God willing.” He explains that the plans may be perfect, with every detail accounted for, but in the end there are some variables nobody can account for. In that way, starting a business is very much like raising a child.


Suri is already in the process of procuring patents. Right now he’s searching for a CEO. He wants someone with knowledge of his market. Maybe someone with a retail or hospitality background. Then, for this new company—this new child he’s bringing into the world—they’ll work on a name.


“That’s always the last part,” he says. “It’s a very exciting time.”

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