How Mohan Viddam, Vikram Rajadhyaksha and Purba Majumder all founded successful Columbus companies

Mohan Viddam left India 35 years ago with one suitcase. After earning his first master's degree in animal science at Kansas State University, Viddam planned to return to India and pursue a career in organic farming. He became fascinated with computers while writing his thesis, however. Instead of returning to India, he enrolled in the University of South Carolina for his master's in computer science.

Viddam worked for AT&T Bell Labs in Columbus for over a decade. In 1992 he founded Dublin-based Halcyon Technology Solutions, an IT consulting firm which develops Microsoft solutions and licensed software.

Today, Halcyon employs 145 full-time and contract staffers. Viddam, Halcyon's chairman and CEO, and Halcyon President Sanjay Dudaney were awarded the 2015 Small Business Leader Award by the Columbus Chamber.

Viddam's success is overshadowed only by his commitment to public service in Ohio and in India. Viddam works with the Dublin AM Rotary Club to distribute free water backpacks to villagers in India. They distributed 300 in 2014.

Through Halcyon, Viddam operates an independent veterans training program. His no-cost, job-ready software testing course has been helping Ohio veterans develop workforce skills since 2011. The program has a 65-70 percent job placement rate.

"I'm very grateful, literally living the American dream. I always wanted to give back," says Viddam. "I'm using my company as a vehicle to do this kind of social work. I'm able to combine both of them-to grow the profitable side of the business and give back."

Vikram Rajadhyaksha began his studies at the Indian Institute of Technology, where he earned a BS in civil engineering. He came to Ohio for graduate studies in geotechnical engineering at the University of Cincinnati.

In 1978, he founded DLZ. Today, the Columbus-based engineering, architectural and surveying firm has over 600 employees in 20 offices and generated over $100 million in revenue in 2013.

In 1994, DLZ launched the India Hydropower Development Company in an international partnership with Infrastructure India. "We own six small hydropower plants totaling about 60 megawatts" in India, says Rajadhyaksha. A seventh plant is under construction. "So far, so good."

In 2010, the DLZ Hydrokenetic Company opened for business andinstalled India's first hydrokinetic turbine. Rajadhyaksha says India's demand for power is growing, as is the country's GDP. "There is money to be made."

Purba Majumder graduated from the University of Calcutta with a degree in geography and a full-ride scholarship at the University of Toledo.

By 2001, she was a vice president for JPMorgan Chase in Columbus. She left Chase to co-found the Columbus-based technology solutions firm Cybervation, where she is president.

In 2013, Majumder founded CoolTechGirls to interest young women in the wider central Ohio commmunity in science, technology, math and engineering. CoolTechGirls is a joint initiative between Cybervation, the City of Dublin and Dublin Entrepreneurial Center. Columbus area businesses and organizations including Cardinal Health, HMB and the Girl Scouts of Ohio's Heartland Council have staged CoolTechGirls events.

In India, girls and boys are both strongly encouraged to pursue STEM professions, she says. "This is where the jobs are, so we should expose our kids to those fields."