My decision to be an entrepreneur was made for me very early in my life. I saw my father as an entrepreneur, and I knew thats what I would be. So, even when I went to the US in 1988 for my MS to Columbia, I was quite sure Id do what my father did in the mid-60s: work for a few years and come back. In May 1992, I was back in India with big dreams. I wanted to build a software company which would be among the best and biggest in India.
Less than 30 months later, that dream lay in shambles. I had a choice then: either I could curtail my dream and build something smaller, or continue dreaming big but with a difference. This time around, I had to make sure I would avoid many of the mistakes I had made in my first entrepreneurial venture. When I re-started in late-1994, the dream was to build an electronic marketplace that connected Indians worldwide. That was what came to be IndiaWorld. It grew to be Indias largest portal and was acquired by Sify in November 1999.
In early 2001, as I re-started on my path as an entrepreneur, I thought a lot about the big challenges. Over the next three years, we tried many different ideas but none worked. I wanted to build a tech utility for SMEs. I wanted to build out server-centric computing. I recognised that blogs and RSS would be another big area and we started an initiative there. The problem was that I did not back up my ideas with strong execution. My own strengths are in envisioning and thinking about the future, and not as much in execution.
Sometime last year, I decided to change my approach. I started thinking of putting together an ecosystem of ventures to make real the world of tomorrow. At the same time, I did not want to become just an investor. I am, at heart, an entrepreneur!
Out of that thinking and decision have emerged a multitude of companies and investments. My dreams havent changed if anything, they have become bigger and bolder over the years. The blog has played no small part in helping me form my ideas about tomorrows world a world where network computers and mobile phones connected to centralised services over next-generation networks will make possible a very different world. India, because of its backwardness and limited legacy, offers a great first market for bringing this new infrastructure to life. India has to be the first market, but then we have to also extend these solutions to other emerging markets.
I believe that the next Google-like company can emerge out of India or China. I hope we can make it happen from India. And with the wealth generation out of that we can get down to the business of nurturing more entrepreneurs in India and also playing an important role in helping India develop. Indias politicians have, for the most part, failed us. Indias entrepreneurs cannot afford to.