When I look back, there are times when I have mixed feelings about the decision to sell. On the one hand, it gave me the ability to start from scratch with capital. On the other hand, it also took away the platform that I had built to reach out to a large audience in India and outside. That platform could have been a base for new services over time. Building a new platform can be incredibly hard!
A question I also get asked often is whether I was lucky or was I smart. A lot of Internet entrepreneurs would probably ask themselves the same question. In my case, I guess it was an element of luck at the end, but then one had to be smart to be in a situation to capitalise on the luck. I did not start off with a desire to sell. In fact, even when the offer was on the table, it was not an instant Yes. Money had not been a motivator for me once we turned profitable. But in the end, I did realise that I had reached the limits of how I could grow the business myself. I had two choices: either raise capital and bring in new management (which I was also attempting to do) or sell and work with the acquiring company to grow the business. I chose the second option. (I don’t know what would have happened had I chosen the first option!)
For me now, IndiaWorld is a set of memories and experiences. They were five wonderful years even though on an individual basis, each day had its own challenges. But it was a period when I was excited almost every morning when I woke up. One didn’t know what the day would bring, but the mystery itself had its own aura.
For a period in between (2001-2004), I think somehow that excitement dried up. I had lots of ideas, but I lacked the ability to execute on them. It was a difficult period. Now, however, it is back. Broadband and mobility are going to transform the world as we know it now. The opportunities are plenty. This time around, I am working to put an ecosystem of companies together which can together help construct tomorrow’s world.
It may not the same as taking one small idea and trying to build it out incrementally. I am now thinking bigger but I still need to retain the entrepreneurial zeal and roots. This is where the last few sentences of the article capture my thinking:
My focus has really been on how to use technology as a platform and as a tool for change. How can we create solutions for the next billion people in emerging markets? We need disruptive innovations in such markets.
For instance, how do you deliver education differently? You need to leapfrog in the delivery of services. How can we build technology-enabled solutions which can be used in India first? How can you envision tomorrow’s world and go out and create it? Indiaworld was a vindication of that belief.
Hopefully, we can be smart and lucky again!