Brothers on mission to turn Wayanad into tech haven

Now, through their billion-dollar multinational software firm Vonnue Innovations, the brothers are reshaping the image of their home district into an IT destination.
Allen Rintout and Allwyn Kent
Allen Rintout and Allwyn KentPhoto | Special Arragement

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: For Keralites, Wayanad, with its high altitude and scenic spots, is the perfect getaway spot. However, when it comes to working, Wayanad hardly holds appeal due to lack of enough industries or manufacturing units. So many from Wayanad, especially youths, are prompted to look for opportunities elsewhere.

Allwyn Kent and Allen Rintout from Sulthan Bathery were among such youths. Now, through their billion-dollar multinational software firm Vonnue Innovations, the brothers are reshaping the image of their home district into an IT destination. Initially, like most aspirational youths from Kerala, Allwyn and Allen, after completion of professional education, pursued jobs outside Kerala. While Allwyn, who studied in NIT Kozhikode, got selected to Andocs, an Israel-based IT firm, in 2006, his elder brother Allen, who passed out of Sreechitra Thirunal Engineering College in Thiruvananthapuram, got placement in Net APP, a Bengaluru-based company. Allwyn soon became the Andocs’ Asia-Pacific head and decided to settle in Singapore. Allen continued in Bengaluru.

“However, in 2018, we decided to return to Kerala and give back to the community,” Allwyn told TNIE. The result was Vonnue Innovations Pvt Ltd. They set up the firm in Infopark in Kochi in 2019. Allwyn stayed back in Singapore to canvass for his new firm, while Allen helmed software development. “Our customers included Grab, a Singapore-based MNC, and SES, Luxembourg-based satellite telecommunications and broadcasting company. We started Vonnue with 10 employees,” said Allwyn.

However, the Covid pandemic sabotaged their work. “Our customers stopped spending money suddenly. We faced our biggest setback when one of our customers Hooq, a joint venture of Singtel, Sony Pictures and Warner Bros, was declared bankrupt in 2020. We suffered losses too, and had to wind up operations at Infopark,”Allwyn recalled. In 2021, Allwyn and Allen rented a house near theirs at Manichira in Sultan Bathery and set up Vonnue there. Even their mother K C Rosakutty, a former MLA and ex-chairperson of Kerala Women’s Commission (2012-17), was initially sceptical of her sons' idea. However, the brothers took her into confidence and started with 30 employees. Slowly and steadily, Vonnue got contracts from MNCs for developing software. Soon, they rented a floor in a building at Sultan Bathery.

“Though BTech graduates are recruited to IT jobs, a BSc mathematics and physics graduate can code better than the former as the basic is mathematics. However, students from rural districts, despite being brilliant, are unable to enter professional institutions due to unavoidable circumstances.,” said Allwyn. “Hence, we recruited as many students as we could from rural backgrounds,” he said. Vonnue holds walk-in interviews every second Saturday of the month. Those selected are trained in software solution, given accommodation and a stipend, as well as given proficiency in English. The brothers said since setting up shop in Wayanad, they have had clients like Bosch and The Economist magazine.

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