While it is never too early or late to start up, there are mainly two times in your life when it is practical to start up. One, before you have children, and the other, when your children have left home. Given India’s demographic bulge, there are more people starting up young. And a young heart is often fueled by glory to make it large in life.
And then there’s the second kind. The ones, who at some level, have already made it large in life and don’t have much to prove. What drives them? Last week, I had the chance to meet two of the most accomplished people I’ve ever come across in my life. Both PhD holders from IISc and U-Pen. Both have distinguished careers in academics as well as industry. They’ve started up ChiSquared Analytics, a data analytics company.My interactions with the company’s co-founders, Rajeev Shorey and Ramesh Subrahmaniyam, gave me an interesting insight into the world of analytics. But what was more interesting, was to see the entrepreneurial intent behind someone who has nothing to prove. It was an interesting conversation, and here are some excerpts the interaction.
The Data analytics landscape
Ramesh Subrahmanyam is, currently, what’s known as a quant, at a hedge fund, where has run a proprietary equity statistical arbitrage trading desk, created several systematic trading strategies, led teams in designing and implementing trading models in futures and equities, as well as managed portfolios. He says, “Data analytics is a growing space and there are two main kinds of analytics companies. One, which does fairly straightforward data analysis, which doesn’t need a lot of core specialization. These companies scale very fast and the gestation time for a research is fairly fast. On the other hand, you have companies like IBM, which are working on cancer detection and building systems which aim to be the doctor themselves. These companies are big and have deep pockets and their projects have long gestation periods.”
Ramesh and Rajeev believe that there exists a space for a startup between these two types of companies - one which does some specialized research, with a fairly quick turnaround time - “This could include things like credit rating analysis, helping telcos understand their mobile data or optimal resource management,” added Ramesh.
Most of their probable clients include large multinational companies. So will marketing be a problem?
The advantage of experience
Rajeev Shorey has a unique experience as an accomplised academic as well as in the industry with companies like IBM research, SAASKEN and GE. And stark contrast to this, was his stint at IISc upto his PhD and as the principal of NIIT university. He says, “Both me and ramesh have have great contacts around the world. But over and above, we share great goodwill among them. That goes a long way.”
Having said that, Ramesh also believes that marketing and sales will be a field they’ll invest in soon. He says, “While we can get those initial deals through our networks, reaching out newer people will be difficult for us, as neither me or ramesh are from a marketing background.”
Rajeev further shared that there have enjoyed interest from a lot of people and there are a few clients already in the pipeline. A basic team has been set up between India and USA, which are the markets they’re targeting currently.
But this is where the story is slightly different from what you expect.
When you start up with nothing to prove…
Analytics is a big space and startups who can get their act right in this space can quickly carve out a niche for themselves and scale rapidly. This is what startup dreams are made of right? Not quite.
For Ramesh and Rajeev, it’s about solving problems that are fun to solve. Rajeev says, “All through our lives, both me and Ramesh have solved problems for others. Yes, we enjoyed it a lot and it was very fulfilling, and now we feel like doing that for ourselves. Yes, we know there are a lot of entrepreneurs today; many in their 20s as well. It never influenced us to start up though. It’s about being ready for entrepreneurship. Ramesh and I are great friends and we believe that it’s time that we started up.”
Ramesh signed off by giving me a unique perspective of an entrepreneur who starts up in the later stage of life. He says, “It’s about solving problems that are fun to solve. That’s why we’re in it. I’ll be really happy if the company grows quickly and if and when the problem to solve becomes managerial, we’d be more than happy to get someone else to solve it for us.”
It was very refreshing for me to see enthusiasm towards something, despite so many accomplishments.
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