UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State industrial engineering alumnus Indraneel Fuke found a way to combine his engineering and entrepreneurial skills to offer unparalleled solutions for sales, marketing and customer service management for the banking, financial services, insurance and education sectors of the Asia Pacific market.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology in India, Fuke came to Penn State to expand his engineering knowledge. After searching through various industrial engineering programs, Penn State’s program stood out to Fuke for its work in automation and controls.
“I had actually gotten in touch with Dr. Vittaldas Prabhu before even applying to Penn State because I found his information on the [Penn State] industrial and manufacturing engineering (IME) website,” Fuke said. “I looked into his research and I was very interested in the type of work he was doing. I talked with him and applied. I was fortunate to secure admission and have Dr. Prabhu as my research guide.”
Fuke received his master’s degree in industrial engineering from Penn State in 2000. He explained that the strength of the University’s industrial engineering curriculum, the expertise of his professors, the connections he made and the state of the facilities propelled his current success.
“The academic rigor of the IME graduate program at Penn State helped me hone my analytical and problem-solving skills,” Fuke said. “It was drilled into me the importance of being detail-oriented and pursuing excellence in my professional endeavors. The education and the problem-solving mindset continue to shape my thought process, even now as a tech entrepreneur. It has made me passionate about solving business problems through technology solutions.”
Since graduating from Penn State, Fuke has held many positions in the technology sector such as: senior consultant and development manager at CGI Inc.; program manager and product planner at Microsoft; head of business development and enterprises at Tata Communications; and corporate director at Bhea Technologies. During this time, he returned to school and received his MBA from the Indian Institute of Management in 2008.
His engineering and entrepreneurship expertise and experience led him to start his own business headquartered in Singapore, SimpleWorks, in 2014. The flagship product of the brand is their customer relationship management (CRM) system known as SimpleCRM.
CRM technology works to manage the entirety of a company’s relationships and interactions with its customers, as well as potential customers. The goal of a CRM is to improve customer–business relationships. SimpleCRM has accomplished this for numerous large enterprises in Asia Pacific.
“The enterprise class and scalable solutions that we are offering in this [Asia Pacific] market are less expensive than most of our competition,” Fuke said. “There was a need for simple, cost-effective yet powerful enterprise solutions in the CRM space, that’s why I started this company. The main focus of SimpleCRM is to help organizations in the areas of sales, marketing and customer support through our CRM and artificial intelligence solutions.”
Looking to the future, Fuke hopes to continue to gain more of the market share in the coming years and to expand into new markets, such as Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The excitement, challenges and versatility that come with being the founder of a business are some of the aspects that Fuke appreciates most about his career.
“I loved building a company right from scratch and seeing it grow to the size it is now,” he said. “Each year, as we grow, new challenges emerge, and every day is a challenge for me. That’s why it’s fun.”
Fuke shared that the skills he learned in his optimization and operations research courses have greatly helped him throughout his career, especially with his problem-solving skills. He cites Prabhu as one of his biggest professional influences, specifically in regard to the direction he has taken.
“It is heartening to learn that Penn State had a role in Indraneel’s professional successes,” Prabhu, professor of industrial engineering and director for the Service Enterprise Engineering initiative (SEE 360), said. “Recently, I had the opportunity to work with Indraneel to develop a chatbot for SEE 360. We plan to use that to illustrate how voice and text can be used by service enterprises. Faculty strive to engage our students by bringing authentic industrial contexts into various learning experiences.”
Fuke said, “Whatever I did and learned during my education has stayed with me for my whole career. Some of the things that may not have seemed very relevant at the time are indeed useful; you just may not realize it until much later. The value of that knowledge becomes apparent no matter what you end up doing later in life.”