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TECH TALK: My Life as an Entrepreneur: Part 1

November 1st, 2004 · No Comments

I got an email recently from Sean Fioritto asking me if Id like to answer some questions as part of his series on entrepreneurship. I agreed. This was the outcome. Sean is an undergraduate at the University of Arizona and is majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Chinese.

First, please tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? What is your field of expertise?

I am based in Mumbai (earlier called Bombay) in India. I have spent most of my life here. I am 37 years old and married to Bhavana. I did my Engineering education at IIT-Bombay, graduating in 1988. I then went to the US to do my MS in Electrical Engineering (Communications) from Columbia University. I worked at NYNEX in their Science and Technology Centre before returning back to India in 1992 to become an entrepreneur.

My entrepreneurial career can be divided into three phases:

  • The first phase lasted 2.5 years, and I failed in all that I started. During this period, I tried doing software development, a multimedia database and an image processing product. Nothing worked. So I went back to the US and spent a couple of months thinking about ideas for the future. This is when the idea of an Internet-based news and information service for Indians outside of India (Non-Resident Indians) emerged.

  • The second phase was 6.5 years. During this period, I launched IndiaWorld, Indias first Internet portal, in 1995. From its pioneering start, IndiaWorld grew to be one of the largest collection of India-centric websites, comprising Samachar, Khel, Khoj and Bawarchi. IndiaWorld was acquired by Satyam Infoway (now, Sify) in November 1999 for US$ 115 million in one of Asia’s largest Internet deals. I continued with Sify till early 2001.

  • The third and ongoing phase is as part of my current company, Netcore Solutions. I had started Netcore in 1998 to focus on Linux-based messaging solutions, a business that continues. What I am working now in Netcore is to build Emergic, a coommPuting platform for the next billion users in the worlds emerging markets.

    I write a daily technology weblog at Emergic.org – it covers the intersection of emerging markets, technologies and enterprises.

    My field of expertise is technology, especially software. I also have a good understanding of emerging markets. My aim is to blend the two together to create disruptive innovations which can make computing a utility so that we can build the digital infrastructure in countries like India. Here is my Emergic vision:

    Currently about 600 million users, mostly in advanced industrialised countries, can afford and use PCs and the Internet. There are an equally large number of potential users mostly in emerging markets who cannot afford the current PC-centric solution.

    Emergic proposes to bring comprehensive computing services to the next few hundred million users by making computing more affordable and relevant to their lives. The solution involves a centralised server-based computing platform–a gigantic computer of sorts–which hosts a wide range of software applications and content and which can be accessed by users remotely over broadband connections using very simple low-cost access devices.

    Emergic is built on and around the Internet, integrating computing and communications to make computing available as a utility. Not only does Emergic make computing easy to use (no upgrades, no downtime, no viruses/spyware), it also brings the cost of computing down to that of a cellphone – about $100 upfront and $12-15 per month (hardware, software, content, connectivity, and support).

    Tomorrow: Part 2


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