with Naveen Tewari
You can’t define Naveen Tewari in a word or two. He dons multiple hats, and not many
adjectives can do him justice. He is an IIT-ian, Harvard graduate, entrepreneur, angel investor, startup mentor and cricket lover, and is best known as the Founder-CEO of India’s first startup unicorn, the mobile advertising platform, InMobi. Bengaluru-based Naveen is an eloquent speaker not just on stage, but also in conversation with
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Work – that’s the first thing that comes to my mind. Happiness is something that gives you energy and keeps you going. There is a purpose to it. For my mother, raising her children gave her happiness. For me, it is work.
What is your greatest fear?
Not having a purpose. They say that if you don’t work, you age faster. It keeps you occupied, helps you go about your day, and not having that is my fear. I also fear the loss of loved ones.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I am quite dogmatic. I don’t think I am a balanced person. I am acentric; that is my comfort. But I think I should not be so acentric. For instance, I don’t believe in balance between work and life. It doesn’t serve any purpose. You should be centric about life, or about work.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Giving up – and the lack of determination. Another is not having the self-belief that you can do something.
Which living person do you most admire?
Jeff Bezos – in the world that I live in, he has created something phenomenal in an industry which is very commoditised. He has done it very systematically. He built an empire and
changed the world.
What is your greatest extravagance?
I have some 12-15 pairs of shoes. I do have some gadgets too. I use them for a while and then forget about them. My whole house is automated for light, music etc.
What is your current state of mind?
I am very enthusiastic and optimistic about InMobi in general. I see the future of the company. We are going huge, and we are doing it without making headlines. It’s being done systematically. We are creating the largest story out of India. That excites me.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Pedigree and experience
On what occasion do you lie?
During socialising. Small talk.
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
I love myself. I am very okay with my appearance. I’ve never explicitly thought about it. I am losing hair though I just touched 40.
Which living person do you most despise?
I don’t think I despise anyone. Why would I spend my time thinking about someone I despise?
What is the quality you most like in a man?
The ability to not give up. Every human has the ability to change the world.
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
These questions should be rewritten. Why would we differentiate between men and women? I won’t answer this question. It’s not right.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My kids and InMobi. I think of all three as my children.
When and where were you happiest?
At the birth of my daughter. I was in the labour room. When they gave her to me, it was unbelievable. She is my first child. She was born around the time I started InMobi. Both are 10 years old now.
Which talent would you most like to have?
If you could change one thing about yourself, what
would it be?
I don’t like my dogmatism. But I won’t change it. What will I change? (thinks)
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement is taking a tech company from India, global. At some level, being able to get many other entrepreneurs to say that they can also do something, even if it happened unknowingly.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
Where would you most like to live?
What is your most treasured possession?
I feel blessed to have received affection from people who work around me. I live in the glory of it and bask in
the vastness of that affection. It grows every year.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Being unable to go after my purpose.
What is your favourite occupation?
If not an entrepreneur, being a
cricketer. It is a little ahead of being an entrepreneur.
What is your most marked characteristic?
What do you most value in your friends?
Being there without any expectation or agenda.
Who are your favourite writers?
Who is your hero of fiction?
Ironman – human, but advanced in technology, built to get to the next level.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Nobody. I think I am making history.
Who are your heroes in real life?
My father. Most of what I do today happened because of what my father did. He is a professor and rose to the top very quickly in his field. That was the outcome. It is the input I looked up to – he had a purpose, backed it with exceptional hard work. He grew everyone around himself; he did not sit in an ivory tower.
What are your favourite names?
That’s an absurd question. I don’t know the implication of the question. I never thought about it.
What is it that you most dislike?
The state of not believing in yourself
How would you like to die?
Peacefully, and not troubling anyone. I want to die while working, not while waiting to die.
What is your motto?
Everyone has the ability to change the world. You just have to not give up.