Nandan Nilekani encourages young entrepreneurs, gives tips for building a global venture from India


Nandan Nilekani, Narayan Murthy and co. started up Infosys in the 1980's when starting up was hardly even a word. They created one of the most successful technology companies from India and drawing from their three decades of experience, Nandan Nilekani graced the TechSparks 2014 Grand Finale where he spoke about building a global company from India.


After Infosys, Nandan took up a new challenge with the UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) for which he looked into the startup space and was astounded to see the change. "Just five years ago, things weren't the same. But now, there are streets full of only startups in Bangalore and this is the new India that'll propel us forward in the path of progress," said Nandan. He then went on to give the tips:

1) Forward looking and thinking big

When Infosys had just begun, the co-founding team had smaller targets of $5 million or 10 million and worked towards that but with a restricted vision, the drive dies down. It is very important to look forward and think really big. "If you dare to dream big, you'll find a way to achieve it," encouraged Nandan. The venue, full with more than a 1000 people, was pushed to believe in the statement and the energy was palpable. The optimism, the forward looking vision that India has at the moment is very infectious and we're at a decisive point in our growth trajectory.

2) Have founders with complimentary skills

As a startup, it is crucial to have people at the helm who have complimentary skill sets. The co-founders need someoe to hear them out and if they bring in different skill sets, it is beneficial in building a well rounded organization. Also, for building a company, the founders should be committed to stick together for atleast 5-10 years. Building a company is a long term game!

3) Startups are more conducive to support innovation

One might sometimes think that large companies have the funds to incubate innovations and make them work but Nandan doesn't believe that to be the case. Innovations in large companies tend to get lost, it's easier to make these things work in a small setup. So, it is important to keep experimenting taking persisiting long enough with a particular one to see if it works.

4) Build a global brand

We are now in the age of internet but for Infosys, this was not the case. They had to speak at conferences, take a flight and go for meetings at beck and call, and do everything possible to leave a mark on the globe. But in today's world, it is much easier to build a global company from anywhere in the world. Freshdesk, Capillary, Chargebee, JustUnfollow, etc are examples of companies from our T30 portfolio.

5) Build a sustainable company

The 'fail fast, pivot fast' concept has also given rise to a culture that makes people think of entrepreneurship a bit lightly. But if someone is building a company seriously, it is long term game. Successful businesses aren't built overnight. Following points should be kept in mind for that:

  • You need to look at the company like an institution and for that, it requires a lot more patience, a lot more hard work. The way you deal with customers, clients, etc. should also be with a long term view in mind.
  • Leadership is also a key and the core team should have a strong framework to take the institution forward.
  • Finding good mentorship also goes a long way in not making the same mistakes and finding a more comfortable way to move ahead.
  • Selling should not take a is very important for building a great company

You can follow @NandanNilekani on twitter for updates from him. And here is the list of top 30 technology companies that showcased at TechSparks.


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