Girish Gowda, CEO and co-founder of Alten-Cresttek, is a 2018 Smart 50 honoree
When CEO Girish Gowda co-founded Cresttek LLC in 2013, autonomous cars weren’t close to reality.
Over the next few years, Cresttek, which supports OEMs with automotive engineering services, grew to 80-plus people. But then the industry started shifting. Car manufacturers got serious about autonomous R&D, and customers no longer just bought a vehicle; they wanted services with it.
Gowda felt Cresttek had two choices — raise capital to scale up to meet the industry’s new needs, or align itself with a larger organization. Using the acquisition experience gained from his time with Mahindra Engineering in India, Gowda discovered the right partner in ALTEN.
New name, same structure
In 2016, Cresttek merged into the French multinational technology consulting and engineering company. It uses the name Alten-Cresttek to represent the new relationship.
“We are a part of a bigger company, but we still operate like a smaller one,” Gowda says. “We are allowed to keep the structure, and we run under that. So that has helped us, and today we are about 120-plus people here. We have a center in India, which is about 200 people. We have started working in Mexico with a small technical center.”
While a public company requires stricter reporting, ALTEN isn’t heavy handed with its operations. Alten-Cresttek’s biggest client is Honda, so it was important to stay agile and continue to help Honda move quickly in areas where it can’t, he says.
Alten-Cresttek is also involved with Smart Columbus, working on the question, “How do you make a car or truck play within the ecosystem of a smart city?”
In 2019, the company may decide to rebrand, and Gowda would like to build more synergy with his ALTEN counterparts in IT and telecommunications.
“I keep reaching out to them. There’s a little bit of collaboration, but what else can we find?” he says.
Overall, Gowda is happy with the decision to merge, especially after another big client, GM, had a troubled 2018.
“There’s a lot of risk involved with the big industries that are cyclical in nature. As a small company, it can make or break you,” he says.
But more important, the employees are happy to have room to grow, and that Alten-Cresttek was able to redistribute people who worked on GM accounts across its wider client base.
“It’s not just about what we do for the industry, but also the people who work for us,” Gowda says. “They are the key, and they are the backbone. So how do we make sure that they are all happy and productive?”