Fast-growing software company Sunrise rocked by lawsuits and complaints – NBC 6 South Florida
Atal Bansal, owner of up-and-coming software development company Sunrise Chetu, offered some advice to Florida International University’s 2016 engineering graduates: “Go as fast as you can. Go as hard as you can.
And Chetu – pronounced “chey-too” – has been going hard and fast for over 20 years, reporting more than $67 million in revenue last year and promoting itself as a “global supplier” offering “world-class services”. to customers needing to develop or maintain applications or other software.
In this “life lessons” speech, Bansal said his private company “runs on streamlined processes that were designed to minimize…effort and improve productivity, also known as the lean or mean machine “.
But in Broward County court filings and in federal court, some disgruntled customers allege a different business model, involving breaches of contract and fraud schemes.
In a federal lawsuit filed against Chetu in August, Blue Chip Alliance alleges it paid $156,000 “for software that Chetu never delivered and for code that was completely worthless.”
Blue Chip Alliance, the owner of 11 barbershops known as The Man Shop in Washington and Montana, accuses Chetu in the lawsuit of “inducing customers to pay monthly development fees without the skill or the ability to provide stable, non-defective software applications”. .”
But, as he has done in other cases, Chetu presented a bold defense in court: no one ever promised that the services provided by Chetu would produce software that actually works.
While his website’s marketing video says Chetu promises to “ensure the quality” of what the company does, his contract says otherwise.
“Blue Chip has expressly agreed that Chetu’s services are provided ‘as is’ without warranty of any kind and that Chetu is under no obligation to deliver a final product free from defects,” Chetu replied in its motion to dismiss. the lawsuit, which has not yet been ruled on.
It is one of nearly 300 cases involving Chetu filed in Broward courts. In the only case we found that went to trial, a judge upheld the validity of the “as is” clause and ordered the customer to pay Chetu what he owed.
NBC 6 asked Chetu: How can he “guarantee the quality” of his work on his website, while arguing in court that his contract does not guarantee that the work will result in working software?
“We are a service provider and do not deliver products to customers,” replied Brian Poole, chief marketing officer of Chetu.
Asked about the allegations in the lawsuit — scheme to defraud; fraudulent billing; unjust enrichment; conversion; civilian theft; market a customer’s trade secrets and intellectual property to a competitor of Chetu’s customer; supply defective and worthless products; incompetence; removal of negative reviews; negligent misrepresentation; and violations of Florida’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act – the company has provided this written statement:
“While we cannot comment on ongoing litigation, we can say that Chetu provides programmer recruitment services for companies around the world. Our provided programmers work under the vision and guidance of our clients, and all services are performed under mutually agreed and signed contracts between the companies. We’ve been around for over 22 years and faithfully serve around 1,000 businesses a year. Although over 97% of our relationships are successful, it is unfortunate that a small portion of these relationships end up in court due to unpaid invoices and clients not paying for services rendered. We maintain that any counterclaims made by former customers are without merit and will be settled in court. As a healthy, accredited South Florida company that gives back and invests in the local community, we look forward to continuing to grow and add value to the region.
Some of those involved in the lawsuits have another perspective.
“My experience with Chetu has been horrible,” said Kevin Tinkelman, owner of Kevins Worldwide, a Pennsylvania-based promotional products company sued by Chetu for nonpayment of $7,800. “At the end of the relationship I felt like they were scam artists that they were just there to make a quick dollar and move on to the next.”
In response to the lawsuit, Tinkelman’s company countersued, alleging breach of contract for Chetu’s failure to provide competent consultants and deliver working software.
After paying Chetu about $26,000, Tinkelman told NBC 6 he quit because “they never delivered what they promised…they finished three of the projects we were in the process of. None of them worked.
Chetu did not specifically address Tinkelman’s allegations, but in his statement he said “any counterclaims made by former clients are without merit.”
A similar story emerges from a lawsuit filed against Chetu by Java Printz LLC, an Ohio company that hired Chetu in June 2020 to create a video game connected to its football simulator.
“They estimated it would take a month to do it and it took over eight months and it still wasn’t done,” owner Cal Anderson said. The Java Printz lawsuit also alleges that they failed to complete the project. “They were supposed to deliver a video game, a working video game, but they delivered something that didn’t even work, on the one hand, and it was basically pointless.”
In his defense, Chetu once again raised the “as is” clause of his contract, stating that he does not guarantee that a product will actually work.
In his lawsuit, Anderson accused Chetu of ‘unjust enrichment’ – keeping the $20,000 he paid without ever getting a working product, so he said he withheld the final payment of $3,400. .
Chetu countersued and, after Java Printz stopped responding to legal documents, was granted default judgment for $4,400 – the unpaid bill plus interest.
Other lawsuits include:
- A June 2022 action by a Maryland company, First Title and Escrow Inc., alleging that Chetu violated its 2017 agreement by sharing its trade secrets and intellectual property by marketing First Title’s “proprietary computer software system” to a competitor on a Zoom call in 2021. Chetu denied the allegations and filed a motion to dismiss the case, which is expected to be heard next month.
- A lawsuit Chetu filed in 2021 against a California-based company, Advantage Property Management Services, which stopped paying Chetu was expanded in July to include a defamation suit, after a company official published online messages that “Chetu is a scam. Don’t bother considering them… I have a $9,000 app that’s worth nothing. Chetu alleges in the case, which is pending, that these public criticisms violated a non-disparagement clause in his contract.
- This clause, which Chetu has sought to enforce against other dissatisfied customers, was also part of a 2017 lawsuit the company filed against Nucleus Health. In a counterclaim, Nucleaus Health alleges that it is “just one victim in what appears to be an orchestrated scheme to defraud unsuspecting customers”. Among the alleged evidence of fraud, the suit says, is “the suppression of negative reviews…preventing customers, including Nucleus Health, from finding out the truth about what doing business with Chetu is really like.” The trial in this case is scheduled for next February.
Chetu’s standard agreement states that “neither party shall…make, publish, publish or communicate to any person or entity or in any public forum any comments or statements (whether written or oral) that intentionally seek to disparage or disparage, or which are detrimental to, the reputation or stature of the other party to its activities.”
As it is a private company, there are few public records revealing Chetu’s financial situation.
In a January 2022 press release, it announced revenue of more than $67 million in 2021, a growth of almost 24%, with a workforce of 2,200 “software experts”, the large majority working in India. It announced the expansion of one of its three campuses in Noida, India, by 25,000 square feet to accommodate an additional 550 developers.
In June 2021, a company led by Chetu founder and chief executive Bansal paid $25 million for the five-story, 189,000-square-foot office building that serves as Chetu’s headquarters, according to a statement. company press releases and public records. There is no registered mortgage on the property indicating that it was a cash purchase.
The company did not make Bansal, 48, available for an interview, during which he could have been asked about his successes.
But in his 2016 speech to CRF engineering graduates, he shared how amazed he was at how far he had come.
“How do you take a kid who just graduated from college, add 20 years, and end up owning a company with (then) 1,100 employees?” he said during the speech. ” Honestly, I do not know. It just happened. I’m sure it can happen to any of us.