After The Exit
I had not planned to sell IndiaWorld. I wanted to run it for life. Wake up every morning and go to work. Go to IndiaWorld. For five years, it was life. All that I could think of. But I also realised in late 1999 that it would be increasingly difficult to compete with the big players with their huge funding. And so, I sold IndiaWorld. The money was good, but just a number.
The day after we had signed the agreement, Bhavana told me words that I have still not forgotten. “If you think of the money, you will never do anything again. Life must not change. We are custodians of God’s money on earth. You have got the money for a purpose. Figure that out.” In that moment, my life’s purpose changed. Until then, it was to be successful. I had lived with failure for too long. And now it was done. The IndiaWorld story was on the front page of every newspaper. Seven-and-a-half years after returning to India with the dream of becoming an entrepreneur like my father, I had my first success. More money than I could ever imagine. India’s first proficorn (though I didn’t call it that then).
Life did not change. In 1999 India, there was no social media. I just went back to daily life. There were a couple of media interviews, and that’s it. I was back to a life like before. The only change was that I had given up IndiaWorld and got a larger bank balance. I was still unsure whether it was a good exchange, but it was done. I had to look ahead.
For an entrepreneur, the joy is the journey and not as much the destination. The thrill of waking up every day, the actions to become a little better, the excitement of climbing the rocks and falling in the water – it is an adventure that has to be lived to be believed. Memories fade over time. But my entrepreneurial zeal has not. Since IndiaWorld, I have done many more things. A few successes, many failures. I keep thinking of new ideas, I keep trying.
I was asked once – “were you smart or just lucky?” And my answer was: I was smart enough to benefit from the luck that came my way. Life’s a bit like that. Had I waited a few months to sell or had an earlier deal for an investment in IndiaWorld materialised, the outcome would have been very different – and probably not a good way. But what I do know is that I would have kept trying. Entrepreneurship is a way of life. I see problems and then think of what the solutions can be. I see the present and visualise a better future. Almost three decades after I walked into my manager’s cabin at NYNEX to resign from the only job I ever had, I am still an entrepreneur – eagerly looking forward to not more money but more journeys.