A CEO’s Story: An Interview with Prakash Agarwal

What’s it take to be a successful entrepreneur in today’s world? Ask Prakash Agarwal—a serial entrepreneur with over 20 years of engineering, marketing, and general management experience and the titles Vice President, General Manager, and CEO on his resume. From studying for his undergraduate degree from University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign to heading up his most recent endeavour NeoMagic Corporation, Agarwal has held numerous positions and gained countless, invaluable business insights over his long career.

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In a recent interview from Silicon Valley, Murray Newlands of YourStory sits down with Prakash to hear his story. From his earliest jobs, to getting funding for his company, to expanding his business, Agarwal shares his experience in great detail, offering some unparalleled insights into the startup world that any aspiring entrepreneur should take to heart.

For all of this and more, watch the full interview below:

These are the key takeaways from the video:

  • Prakash starts the 20-minute interview by sharing a little background on himself and giving us a better understanding of who he is and how he got to where he is today. He tells us that his journey in the US started in 1972 when he emigrated to the States to get his degree. After attending the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign and receiving both his undergraduate and his Masters degrees, he soon relocated to Houston, Texas for his first job. After moving around the country and working for various companies including General Electric, Prakash finally made the decision to pack his bags and head to the west coast where he gained employment with a handful of Bay Area companies. In 1985, Prakash joined Cirrus Logic as the ninth employee, where he stayed for 9 years and eventually became the head of the Portable Products Division. After watching the company grow to over 2,500 employees, Agarwal was ready for a new challenge and thus, started his company NeoMagic in 1993. There, he established an outstanding staff and group of investors that were able to lead the company to the success that they enjoy today.
  • Prakash retired from NeoMagic in 2005 but it wasn’t long before he got the itch to create a new company again, and 2006 he launched the iKoa Corporation, but after a few rough years and only two rounds of funding, the company eventually closed in 2011.
  • Continuing on, Prakash explained that he left Cirrus Logic after 9 years because the company had simply grown too large and to him, had lost its original luster and excitement that he had come to know in the company’s early days. The desire to learn more and grow as a person motivated Prakash to leave the company and eventually start his NeoMagic venture.
  • Over his nine-year career at Cirrus Logic, Prakash was able to learn the most important thing about building a business, while also making some great connections that would help him later down the road. He explains that to him, the most important part of building a company is to focus on the company and not on the product. Whether the goal is to be acquired or to go public, the overall goal should be to focus on building a company rather than just a product or a service.
  • Later in the interview, Agarwal talks about the founding and funding process, and explains that through a few rounds of funding NeoMagic was able to raise around $19 million in capital. With their fundraising officially ending in 1993, NeoMagic went public just four years later in 1997.
  • Prakash’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to understand that you’re going to make mistakes, especially when it comes to things like hiring, and you have to take the appropriate steps to alleviate risk and make sure that you aren’t costing the company, especially in the early going.

If you have any questions after watching the video, please leave them in the comments below!

Murray Newlands

Murray Newlands

Murray Newlands is YourStory’s US Correspondent and Deputy Editor of Search Engine Journal. Murray founded The Mail in 2013, an angel-funded startup publication covering performance marketing and mobile marketing. Murray is an advisor to a number of bay area startups and has authored several books.