Ernst and Young Nov. 18 announced its overall winner of the U.S. Entrepreneur of the Year 2017 competition, naming TESARO Inc.'s Lonnie Moulder and Mary Lynne Hedley the overall winners, but also selecting Indian American Asif Ramji as the national winner of the financial services category.
Ramji, in the 31st year of the competition, was among the winners coming from the Southeast Region (see India-West article here). Dozens of Indian American and South Asian Americans entrepreneurs were named from 25 regions throughout the country.
Ramji is the president and CEO of Paymetric, and has held leadership roles at the Greater Atlanta, Ga.-based company since 2009.
“Instinct and core values have propelled Asif Ramji to the top of his game,” EY said in a news release. When Ramji joined the company in 2009, it was hemorrhaging millions of dollars, EY said.
“I would be lying to you if I told you that I thought, ‘Hey, it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life’ at the time,” Ramji said in the news release, adding he joined the company “on just blind faith, knowing that I could impact the organization.”
He decided to pursue the cloud and change the company’s business model from licensed software to a cloud-based software-as-a-service subscription.
The board was skeptical, EY noted, and clients balked because they already had bought the licensed software.
Despite that, Ramji and his team stressed that payments and data security were constantly changing and evolving, according to the EY news release.
“We told those clients: let us manage all that complexity for you in the cloud,” Ramji added in the report.
Within 18 months, the value that Ramji envisioned started to materialize as Paymetric transformed every client from a licensed software purchaser to a monthly recurring subscriber, generating monthly recurring revenue, EY said.
The company’s client base tripled, and it began to turn a profit, it added.
In September 2013, Paymetric sold a stake to a private equity firm, and in May 2017, the PE firm sold Paymetric to Vantiv, a leading payment processor, EY said.
That transaction changed lives, Ramji said in the report. Stock options turned employees into millionaires and enabled them to pay off houses, save for college and care for elderly parents, it said.
“The impact is really what I would say I’m most proud of,” Ramji added in the report. “It’s stuff like this that really drives the excitement, drives you forward, gives you the passion every day.”
Paymetric is now recognized as a global leader for integrated payments and data security.
Ramji, born in Kenya and having lived in Canada, previously held leadership roles at RBS WorldPay Inc. and Moneris Solutions. He is a graduate of the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.
The financial services winner was among a group of 14 winners named winners in 11 categories as well as the overall winners. The duo from TESARO were also the life sciences winners. Other categories included distribution and manufacturing, family business, emerging, technology and consumer products and retail, among others.