Meet the Mentors: Surend Dayal, CEO of Magia Solutions

The GRIFFIN Accelerator program is a fast track to the next level that has helped scores of Canberrans bring their big ideas to business, and at the heart of the three-month intensive is the bond formed between our trusted mentors and entrepreneurs. 

We’d like to introduce you to a few of the people who make our network stand out and our participants succeed — the mentors themselves. So this week we’re pleased to introduce you to Surend Dayal, CEO of Magia Solutions!  

  • Tell us about your company and how it came to be.

Magia was started in 2002 by Steve Solomon and Peter Crew with one other. Prior to branding as Magia in 2014, the company was run as SDS Group, which was started in 2006. This originated in consulting around Oracle ERP On Premise in particular analytics. When Oracle made the shift to SaaS (Software as a Service), the company initially focused on Customer Experience (CX). In 2019 we consciously went back to our Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) roots and focused on Oracle ERP Cloud as well as CX and PaaS (Platform as a Service).

  • What did you see as the need in the market?

With Oracle SaaS growing very strongly in Australia, there’s a clear need for local specialists who can implement the SaaS for customers. Outside of Magia, the main other Oracle SI partners are very large multinationals.

  • How have you worked with the Canberra Innovation Network throughout the years?

I’ve been working with CBRIN for a while as an Angel Investor and mentor to startups.

  • Were there any big barriers that kept you from achieving your current success, at the start?

The biggest barrier to growth is finding good talent. To address that we actively look for good graduates from the ANU and University of Canberra locally in the ACT as well as in Perth (our home base), NSW, Queensland and Victoria.

  • Tell us about Canberra as a city for entrepreneurs.

There are strong opportunities in Canberra for what I would call “GovTech” – software that helps Governments run better. Interestingly though, there are quite a number of exciting startups outside the Government sphere who work from CBRIN.

  • How has COVID affected your business? Growth? Planning? 

It slowed things down mid 2020, but things came roaring back in 2021. My view is that Governments and other organisations have adjusted to the “new normal” and are actually accelerating their digital footprint. Being able to operate digitally is almost mandatory post COVID. So I feel lucky that we are able to accelerate growth in that climate. But I do really feel for brick-and-mortar businesses who are suffering through endless lockdowns.

  • Tell us about the ‘success moment’ – when you realized your idea had legs and could potentially make money for you, and others.

I knew this before entering the business! I came on board in 2019 to help the original founders and the COO, Chris Hinds, grow the business.

  • Are all entrepreneurs born to be bosses? Was that a weird transition for you?

When it first happened (in 2003) I was quite young, and it was certainly different going from being a techie to running a business. Now I definitely prefer to be running something. Whether it’s an SME or a part of a large corporate.

  • Do you have any advice for other startups hoping to find their feet?

The single biggest characteristic you need is resilience. When you get knocked down, get back up and keep going.