NASSCOM EMERGEOUT Startup 13: Varun Khurana, Founder and CEO, Wirkle

13th Apr 2010
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Varun Khurana is the CEO of Wirkle and is responsible for the overall strategy and functioning of the company. Prior to founding Wirkle, he worked for 5 years as a lead engineer at Network Appliance, California, leading development of its data replication products. He is a computer science graduate from IIT Delhi. He has several U.S. patents and international research publications to his credit. He is extremely passionate about long distance running and runs in the Delhi Marathon every year.

Wirkle, the brainchild of Varun, is a leading product engineering firm focused on developing software products for the mobile including telecom grade client/server platforms, SMS applications, and Mobile Internet (WAP). The company has designed, developed, maintained, supported, tested, and ported several mobile platforms for hundreds of handsets.

Wirkle's expertise in the mobile space spans social networking, instant messaging, location-based services, multimedia streaming, banking, enterprise applications, payments, barcode scanning, and beyond. Millions of mobile users across the globe today are using products developed by Wirkle through various carriers across multiple geographies.

What drives Varun? Why did he choose entrepreneurship over his well-paying job? To find answers to these questions, read what he has to say to Indian Startup NASSCOM EMERGEOUT initiative.

1.        Why did you take up entrepreneurship journey?

Varun: Life in a job is great, very predictable, and has a very well-defined path. While this is great in a way, it lacks excitement, challenge, and became monotonous after a while.

The entrepreneurship journey is a lot of fun, every day is filled with challenges and there is no growth path that limits you. Sky is the limit; it’s about how far you can grow your company to.

2.        What keeps you going (how and where do you find your motivation levels)?

Varun: For anyone, it is the vision and the passion for it that keeps one motivated.

Every day of my life when I think about the things we can do to grow the company, contribute to our customers and the world at large, there seem to be so many of them. It is this vision formed by these things that keeps us going.

3.        What is your advice to wannabe entrepreneurs in India?

Varun: I would say at this time India is a land of opportunities, there is so much that can be done. Select your path and keep marching. Before you embark on your journey, be prepared that this is going to be a tough one, you won't get the nice office that your employer might have provided to you in the past, you won't get those multi-digit paychecks, you won't get all those benefits, and you won't get the work–life balance.

The only thing that will keep you going in these tough times is the passion that you have for what you are doing. Hence I say, make sure you are very very very passionate about whatever business you have chosen and eventually success will come to you.

4.        What success means to you and your organization?

Varun: As a company specializing in the mobile domain, we have a vision which is summarized below. :

Our customers: To make world class mobile products such that not only our customers are delighted but even their customers can't help but say "wow".

Our people: To create a culture where people are passionate about what they do, have fun, and treat others with dignity.

Our society: To bring the mobile community together, social entrepreneurship leveraging mobile and contributing to the education of the un-educated.

As long as we are able to do that, continuously improve on it and make profits, we are successful.

5.        What are your learnings from the failures?

Varun: Well! There's no dearth of learnings. Here are a couple—Get out of the mindset that "I can do everything". As founders, we sometimes tend to think that we can do everything and tend to jump into every problem. We don't realize that there are only 24 hours day and hence there is only so much I can do and also that I may not be an expert in everything. As such, sometimes it is good to just step back and ask yourself: "Who can solve this problem better than I can?" and "How can I get that person on board?"

Right people are your key asset. Spend time on getting the right people on board who share your vision. With the right people on board, moving in the direction of your vision, your ship will eventually reach your destination.

Strive for excellence. Always shoot for being best in the world at whatever you do, never go into the mindset that I'll be yet another company in a particular business with a million others. Mediocrity has never helped build great businesses.

Talk to a lot of people outside of the company, especially those who have been there, done that in your line of business. The advice that you'll get will be invaluable.

Varun’s thoughts are steeped in reality and he bets on striving for excellence. Also he has pointed advice to founders who do everything by themselves without realizing they have only limited time. It is also important to network with people outside your company to get their gyan and relate to their experiences.

As part of the Indian startup NASSCOM EMERGEOUT initiative, 12 entrepreneurs have shared their views. To know what they are, please visit the links given below.

1. Kishore Mandyam of PK4 Software

2. Anil Pagar of Spadeworx

3. Ajay Sharma of Shristi Software

4. Pallav Nadhani of InfoSoft Global (FusionCharts)

5. Manoj Srivatsava of Hanu Software

6. Sriram Raghavan of Comat

7. Sushil Chaudary of Mann-India

8. Manav Garg of Eka

9. R. Swaminathan of Matrix Business Solution

10. Suresh Sambandam of OrangeScape

11. Ajay Mian of Alletech

12. Prasad Guntupalli of Attra

NASSCOM EMERGEOUT Conclave, Chennai, April 30, 2010

NASSCOM EMERGEOUT conclave comes to Chennai on 30 April 2010. With “Nurturing the IT DNA in India’s growth sectors” as its theme, the conclave focuses on sectors that hold relevance to Chennai such as the automotive sector, in addition to opportunities that exist in the UID space, and workshops on marketing, product design, and many others.

Mr. Bharat Goenka, founder, Tally Software is the keynote speaker. It is a no-brainer right now that if you walk to anyone and ask them to cite you an example of an Indian product, Tally ranks among the top list, and it has been that way for a while. Mr. Goenka is without doubt one of the most prolific icons of the Indian product software industry. Talk to him about product positioning, understanding user behaviour, pricing, marketing and building a brand that is as big as Microsoft in terms of training and development centers, and you are sure to walk away in awe. Would you miss hearing him?

To wrap up the conclave, Mr. Lakshmi Narayanan, Vice Chairman, Cognizant, is going to engage in rather inquisitive conversation with Prasanto Roy from CyberMedia. He has been a technology industry leader for over 30 years. As a founding member of Cognizant, he was been responsible for the company’s high-touch customer relationship and delivery excellence model. Under his leadership, Cognizant became the youngest IT services company to reach the $1 billion revenue milestone. He is also the part of NASSCOM Chairmen Council and under his leadership, some new initiatives in the EMERGE Forum were started.

To find the speaker list, please visit

Jessie Paul, MD, Paul Writer Strategic Services, author of No Money Marketing, and formerly Chief Marketing Officer of Wipro, is holding a workshop on “Frugal Marketing—What Works, What's Trendy, What's Hype.” Besides great product or service and innovation, marketing right is crucial to build a brand. Jessie is going to demystify the art of brand building using a frugal budget. Visit her blog post at the EMERGE blog for details.

The complete program agenda is available and is waiting to be updated:

Please register for the conference here.

Contributed by Venkatesh Krishnamoorthy, Chief Evangelist, YourStory

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