The Accidental Entrepreneur
I am an accidental entrepreneur. If my life had gone as planned, I would have become a math professor focusing on probability and statistics. I likely would have led an academic life, publishing research papers, lecturing, and writing books containing theorems, lemmas, epsilons, and deltas. Overall, I imagine it would have been a happy but mostly uneventful life. But that wasn’t what happened at all.
Born in Kanpur, India, I came to America in 1981 to pursue my academic dream. Things started very well, and by the summer of 1982, I had completed all my Ph.D. preparatory course work. But then there was a twist in the tale: The Ph.D. didn’t happen due to some competing outside interests. When the distraction ended, I decided to complete a master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Illinois and took my first job as a systems engineer with TIBCO in Palo Alto.
TIBCO is still a successful company today, specializing in big data and software integrations. I gained valuable hands-on experience working with different clients around the country. My seven years there kindled an ambition to become an entrepreneur, and I decided to set out to prove the theory that principled entrepreneurship is both possible and desirable.
Now that I am nearing sixty, I can state that being an entrepreneur has been rather fulfilling, but sharing quality time with colleagues, my community, and the broader society is increasingly becoming my raison d’être. Every day I look for ways to create joy around me. Now, my definition of a ‘good’ day is when I am optimistic, solution-oriented, and giving. As the years’ progress, I find myself getting far more joy out of giving than receiving.
This blog follows in those footsteps. I see this as an opportunity to pay it forward to new business owners and start-ups. Over the next year, I hope to share my experiments in entrepreneurship – so that readers can learn and profit from both my mistakes and successes along the way. Every week I will share a new story of what has worked for me, what has not, and why.
The first lesson I want to share is that entrepreneurship is about facing challenges. It’s a roller-coaster ride with higher highs and lower lows than I ever could have imagined. I believe an entrepreneur’s defining characteristic isn’t just about being inventive and having a good idea. More than anything, it takes fortitude and the willingness to never give up. Entrepreneurs must have the courage to go into business, to stay in business, and to run their business ethically.
And it isn’t just about being courageous at life’s big inflection points; it’s also about showing courage day after day, and sometimes this requires choosing a less promising path rather than compromising your honesty and integrity.
I invite you to join me on this journey with the hope that you will share the lessons you enjoy with colleagues, family, and friends.
With special thanks to Srinivas Bhogle for his support and contribution to this project.