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. ranjit bawa says:

    hey Anand – great to hear!! good luck with the new chapter and look forward to seeing you soon. hope to follow suit, but till then, shall live vicariously…

  2. S Anand says:

    @Shankar, I keep my latest phone number at the top of my home page. Will be good to hear from you!

  3. Rajesh B says:

    Great to know you are starting off on your own. Good luck. I took my one way ticket to India 3 years ago. Still burning through my first venture. Inspiring post. Am planning to start 9 other on the side just to be on the correct side of the odds.

    Jokes apart, can think of few others more equipped to start off on something. If ever you are interested in doing something on the education space, drop me an email. Will try to make that as my night job. Am good with creating content, abysmal poor in trying to sell it. So, ideal for a night-job.

    Best wishes.

    Cheers,
    Bee

  4. Hi Anand, I have been following your posts and your applications…It is good hear that you are planning to start your own. I wish you all the best!!

  5. Sajiv says:

    All the best Anand.

  6. pankaj says:

    Good luck with your new venture.
    Keep us posted. :)

  7. Ranganathan says:

    Hey Anand,
    I used to follow ur blogs for the past 2 years. I think i came to know about ur blog when i was searching about the tips in excel . Sometimes if I am bored i used to check ur site for the movie list..:-) ..
    I just want to say ‘All the very best ‘ for ur new journey.. I am sure definitely u will succeed…..this will be an inspiration for me some day for starting a new company….

  8. Sri says:

    Hi Anand
    I have followed your blog several years now. It’s great to hear about the new venture. Very inspirational post. Good luck and all the best.
    Vaalga Valamudan
    Sri

  9. vivek says:

    Best of luck Anand.

  10. Sankar says:

    All the best Anand!

  11. MohaN says:

    As someone mentioned, I stumbled across on a pursuit…Life an Unwrapped GIFT……Tear it or Peal it or Break it…something underneath it…

  12. sadhasivam says:

    Good Luck Anand. Being associated with you as read for a decades i am thrilled to go through post. We wish a great journey ahead.

  13. Venkataragavan says:

    Hey Anand,

    wish you good luck and great success ahead. I got interested into data visualization after reading your blogs and now I am actively learning it. Hope to move on someday.

    Cheers

  14. Sreenivasan L says:

    All the best Anand. Wishing you a great success ahead in your new journey.

  15. Ravindra says:

    Thaliva…All the best!
    Looking forward the IPO in Year 2015 or earlier!

    Cheers

  16. Shobha says:

    Hi Anand,

    You do not know me. But I had read your posts in 2007 and I was inspired by your diverse interests in almost every area. Suddenly I remembered you today and read your recent post and gotta know you are starting your own firm in India. All the best and kudos to you.

    -Shobha-

  17. Karthik A says:

    All the best – have thought several times of making the leap but never got out of the comfort zone – Very happy you did. Maybe probability of this visualization thing becoming the next infy is 100%

    All the best

  18. Judy H says:

    I have no idea how I found your website today for the first time, but I’ve enjoyed reading it. I wish you all the best in your endeavors!

  19. D says:

    Anand,
    Wish you tremendous amount of luck.

  20. Raja says:

    I try to visit you website since 2008 whenever I get a chance and look for what geeks are doing lately :-) and just noticed today that you moved to India starting out your own venture. Hard work pays off for sure. I am sure you will succeed. Good Luck!

  21. Michael says:

    Good luck with this Anand. hope it is going well.. Michael

  22. mohan says:

    all the best mr anand
    keep going
    your website is so informative with high entertainment value ,
    you will suceed

    god bless you

    mohan.
    you will definitely suceed in

  23. Ankur says:

    Hi Anand,

    I first heard of you courtesy Rahul Guha during my first year at BCG in Mumbai in 2006. He mentioned you as a Consultant he had a very high opinion of.

    I came across you next a couple of years later, as I was trying to index by IMDB 250 list – I used the app you’d created and recommended it to many friends too.

    Today, I reached your blog while browsing through some data on poverty in India (datastories.in).

    Just wanted to let you know. I wish you all the best in your venture(s).

    Ankur

  24. Amutha says:

    It’s very late if I say gud luck,:) and I hope you are going great with your plans.