The next chapter of my life

I’m writing this post on a one-way flight from London back to India. I’ve moved on from Infosys Consulting, and am starting up on my own.

I’ve wanted to do this for a long time. There’s always more freedom in your own company than someone else’s. There’s often more money in it too, if you’re lucky enough. But my upbringing is a bit too conservative to make that bold step. However, given that my father runs his own firm, I figured it was just a question of time for me to do the same.

Two years ago, in Jan 2010, I picked up Rashmi Bansal’s Stay Hungry Stay Foolish at an airport. That book killed the last bit of resistance I had. If the people in that book could succeed, I felt I could too. And if what they did (building small companies, not huge ones) could be called a success, I could be successful too.

After the flight, it was clear in my mind. I would be an entrepreneur. I would create a small company that would probably fold. Then I’d do it again. And again, 10 times, because 1 in 10 companies survive. And finally, I’d be running a small business that’d be called successful by virtue of having survived. A modest, achievable ambition that I had the courage for.

I usually make big decisions without analysis, by just sleeping over them. I slept over it and announced it to my family the next day. I’m not sure they believed me.

Two months later, along with a friend, I built a dynamic digital image resizing product. We had our wives start a company in the UK, and tried selling it to retailers. There clearly was a demand. The problem was, we didn’t know how to sell. After a year and having spent £500 with no sales, it was clear to us that venture #1 had failed. We eventually shut it down.

In the middle of this, my ex- boss from IBM told me that he was looking to start a venture, focusing on mobile, rural BPO and energy management. This later on changed to data analytics and visualisation. They all sounded like fun, so I said I’ll help out in my spare time.

A few months later, a classmate told me he’d started a business digitising school report cards. That sounded like fun too, so I said I’d help out in my spare time.

Now, if that sounds like I had a lot of spare time on my hands — you’re right, I did. And it’s time to talk about the jobs in my life. My first 3 years at IBM were fun. I was coding, learning, and leading a bachelor’s life with friends, money, and no responsibilities. My 4 years at BCG were strenuous with 80-hour weeks, but it was interesting and challenging. I was newly married, and between work and home responsibilities, I had no time for fun.

I moved to Infosys Consulting in the UK with the specific aim of rectifying that (and for health reasons as well). In the last 7 years, the work has (except on occasion) been a bit boring, but very relaxing. On most days, I would spend 4 hours working, and 4 hours learning new stuff. The things I learnt only helped me be more efficient. So I ended up getting even more work done in less time.

Many things came out of this. Firstly, I recovered my health. We had a daughter, and I spent more time with her. I started coding in earnest again. By 2007, I was writing code as part of my projects — stuff that others whose job it was were unable to. By 2009, I had a few websites running, like an Indian music search engine, an IMDb Top 250 tracker, a few transliterators, and so on.

So when I said I’d help out with these startups, it wasn’t an empty promise. For the last 18 months, I’ve had a day job and three night jobs. I never did justice to any of them in my opinion, but I had more fun than ever in my life, I learnt more than ever in my life, and I produced more tangible output than ever in my life. Sometimes, quantity beats quality or reliability.

Both these startups are doing well today. Gramener.com offers data visualisation and IT services. I will be joining them as Chief Data Scientist. Reportbee.com offers a hosted report card solution. I will continue helping them out. And I will continue working with a few NGOs.

You’ll see me a lot more active online now. I can publicly write about my work — something I’ve been unable to do the last 11 years.

I am relocating to Bangalore. From a professional front, it’s an obvious choice. That’s where the geeks are. In my last visit to India, I was at Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad. In the latter two, it’s tough to meet geeks. And when you do, it’s no easier to find the next. Bangalore has many more geeks, and they’re fairly well networked.

From a personal front, too, Bangalore works well. It’s close enough to Chennai without actually being in Chennai.

It’s 10am on Thu 12th Jan. Our flight is descending into Delhi airport. It’s the start of a new chapter in my life. Scary, but exciting. Wish me luck!

  1. Amitesh Jasrotia says:

    Hey Anand, I was not really inspired by Rashmi Bansal’s book but I am mighty inspired by the piece you have written. Nothing else is more self-liberating than becoming the master of your own destiny. I have been following your blogs/site for quite some time now. Something tells me you will be successful. Still, Best of luck for your future endeavors!

  2. chaitanya says:

    All The Best, Anand. It was always knowledgable and pleasure to follow you. Good luck.

  3. ravi atluri says:

    this is great. Congratulations. Data in India is going to get more exciting :D

  4. Girish says:

    Congratulations for new change Anand :-)
    S-Anand.net is always at the back of my mind for the content it has.

  5. S_Thomas says:

    Congratulations Anand, we look forward to hearing more

  6. harish says:

    Hi Anand….. wish you the very best and am sure you will have no problems succeeding…

  7. Anand

    Surprising to see you very late to entrepreneurship! I thought you were managing your business! All the very best! As they say in school ‘you will definitely come with flying colours!’

    Regards
    Venkat

  8. Vasant says:

    Awesome! Welcome back. And best of luck ahead.

  9. saurabh nitin says:

    best of luck brother! cheers

  10. Manish says:

    Anand, congrats

    I was also struggling with the same thoughts to take up a job or start on own

  11. Ayyappa says:

    Best of luck Anand!

    Btw -I am a daily user of your mixamail for twitter and never said thanks! Thanks a lot for that!

    Also, I hope you write your experiences in the startup life for “other conservatives who are afraid to jump” to learn how it feels to be in the wild outside.

  12. Veera says:

    Whoa! that explains the number the data visualization posts in your blog. :)

    Congratulations for starting up on your own!

    Me too in the same situation, going to work on my own start up from coming March onwards :)

  13. Ravi says:

    All the best Anand. I’ve loved your site and all the tools you’ve built around it. I’ve always wondered how you got so much time to do all that you do. Gramener seems to be a happening place now and I am sure you will make it a grand success.

  14. Krishna says:

    Nice to know this Anand. I’ve been following your exciting works in our intranet blogs. For sure, this is going to be the best decision you ever made :) Wish you loads of luck!

  15. Cipher says:

    Congrats and the best for your future Anand.

  16. satish says:

    Wow. Good to know sir. Wish you all the very best

  17. AnanthRK says:

    Great to hear that you are taking the plunge full-time. All the very best!!

  18. Hi SAnand, good call. It does not matter how it works out (trading in handsight), but all that matters is enjoying what you do. I am sure it would be immensely satisfying. Good luck.

  19. Ravish says:

    People said “search” was too late for Google.. they also said “social networking” was too late for Facebook.. good that neither Larry Page nor Mark Zuckerberg listened to them..

    All the best Anand.. Good Luck !! Its never too late for new ideas!!

  20. Kalpesh says:

    Anand,

    I am sure, you have all things needed to do better things in life.
    Hopefully, we will meet & work together in future.

    Best Wishes
    Kalpesh

  21. Vanaja says:

    All the best Anand! I have always wondered why you were stuck with Infosys when you were so much more. This looks like the way to go. Good Luck and God Bless!

  22. Ashish says:

    Hey Anand!
    Good to hear that, best of luck for your ventures……happy Independance!! Do let me know if i can be of any help
    Ashish

  23. Raghu says:

    Enjoy always and lead from the front! All the best and do well!

  24. Madhur Singhal says:

    Anand, best wishes!! Well – I never had a doubt that you take only 4 hrs for 8 hrs of work anyway.

    I have been guilty of being lazy in calling but thankfully, I travel to Bangalore sometimes. I am at 9873901163 and if you tell me your #, I will call you.

    cheers!!

  25. Gaurav says:

    Way to go Anand! You will love being an entrepreneur – the freedom to try different things and the satisfaction you get when something works…

  26. 408wij says:

    Good luck.
    –Joe

  27. sriram says:

    All the best Thala.. :)

  28. Somnath says:

    Just goes to show the fan following you have. I am really late in checking your latest post. Welcome back to Bangalore and India. I see couple of batchmates have posted to.
    Wish I can join small organization / startup but am hesitant to take the risk.
    Then again what is my true skill set :D
    Somnath

  29. Welcome to place where you belong! I am sure you will do well. You can reach me at 99010 32469. It will be good to have a cup of coffee with you!

  30. Suresh says:

    Wish you success.
    “Real success comes not from being invited onto the yacht, but from being able to paddle one’s own canoe” – Hugh McLeod

  31. Sridhar says:

    All the very best Anand! I am sure you’ll have no problem adding tremendous value to whatever you produce and that will ensure your success.

  32. praphul says:

    Congratulations!

  33. San says:

    You’ve always been an inspiration and it seems like you always will. All the best!

  34. Sathish says:

    Didn’t actually get the technical part you are talking about… but looks like your are excited and I’m happy for you… ALL THE VERY BEST!!

  35. Madhu says:

    Good luck, many dream of doing it and few take the bold step. I am glad you did.

    Congratulations and wish you the best.

  36. Naveen says:

    Anand- Congratulations , the day I had been waiting for long time. You will make a big impact where ever you are. Good Luck to you and Gramener

  37. Rajesh bhura says:

    Finally! This is teriffic news. From our campus days I always thought that this was the way to go for u.
    Remember the digital signature idea which u had come up with as our e-commerce project? It’s a big industry now in 10 yrs. I don’t have any doubt whatever u do will be successful in it’s own way. All the best. Your fan for always – rajesh

  38. Ashwin says:

    Anand – I have been following your blog for several years now. I wish you all the best !!

  39. Sriram S says:

    Welcome back and all the best…I stay in BTM Layout in Bangalore..lets catch up sometime

  40. Sudheer says:

    All the best Anand! Looking forward to hear more and more about you in the coming days from sources other than the blog

  41. Jitendra says:

    Wish you luck Anand! I am sure with your attitude and energy you’d do well in whatever you try to do!

  42. Anand S says:

    Anand

    Good luck. Our paths are similar (I am anand @ anands.net). After 12 years in silicon valley, I returned to Bangalore an year ago to run my own venture (started this 4 years ago). Let’s meet in Bangalore.

  43. Ramana says:

    All the best Anand!

  44. Anuradha Shastry says:

    Lots of good luck!!
    Landed on this blog just an hour ago.
    best,
    another Infoscion

  45. Sumit Dhar says:

    Now that you have moved to Bangalore, we should exchange numbers and plan on catching up. Where, in Bangalore, are you based out of ?

    Cheers,
    D.

  46. Nithin says:

    All the Best Anand…

  47. S Anand says:

    @Sumit: definitely. Still haven’t move into Bangalore just yet, but my contact number is on the home page. Please feel free to call any time,

  48. Shankar V says:

    hey Anand

    All the very best and trust me…..I knew this was coming! :)

    Welcome back to India and welcome to Bangalore. Hope you continue to post interesting stuff.

    Please do stay in touch. I had your Infosys email id. Don’t think I have your personal id. Please pass it on.