Sanjay Anandaram is an executive turned investor, educator and mentor. In the 1980s at Wipro (NYSE: WIT) he began his career in IT sales in Eastern India. Establishing operations in the Middle East, Africa, and the Far East for Wipro set his background in international business. He has been a founding member of JumpStartUp, a US-India VC fund and entrepreneurial ventures in Silicon Valley and India like Neta and Venturekatalyst. Presently Mr. Anandaram is an adjunct professor at INSEAD (Singapore), a senior advisor to the National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN), and an advisory member to Technology Development Board at the Indian Govt’s Department of Science & Technology and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal and other publications.
To provide a glimpse into his career and philosophy Sanjay Anandaram answered a few questions in an e-mail interview.
USF: Why do you volunteer time helping aspiring entrepreneurs?
Because I’m passionate about entrepreneurship as a vehicle for socio-economic change.
USF: What attracted you to join up as a Venture Advisor with USF?
The cause and the people.
USF: What was the most valuable bit of advice anyone gave you when you were an entrepreneur?
If the chemistry isn’t right, the arithmetic will never work!
USF: In what ways/areas are you hoping to help USF entrepreneurs?
Strategy, organizational & business development, sales, and marketing, fund raising.
USF: What interests you most about BoP Startups at this early stage?
The opportunity to be part of crafting a worthwhile value proposition to stakeholders.
USF: Have you advised entrepreneurs prior to this? In what capacity, professional coach, board member?
Very many! As a mentor-advisor and board member.
USF: If so, what were you able to contribute to the entrepreneur and what did they contribute to you?
Hopefully was able to get them to think differently (scale, scope) about their businesses; I learnt a lot about passion, persistence, emotions.
USF: Can you recall someone giving you bad advice on your business/career? What did you learn from that experience?
There’s no bad or good advice as these are contextual. There’s advice. What one does with advice therefore renders it good or bad, and that is up to the individual. So having the right approach to giving and receiving advice is important.
USF: How big do you think the opportunity is for building businesses to serve 800M low-income people in India?
Well, the opportunity is huge given the size and state of the country!
USF: What sectors do you think are most promising (education, ag, energy, etc)?
All sectors are promising given the low base and penetration.
USF: BoP startups are proliferating. Do you think they will really make a dent in the enormous needs of the BoP?
Unlikely. But they’ll cause a change in the thinking of people in and around the segment and that’s an important result.
USF: Who are your heroes of entrepreneurship?
I look at the entrepreneurial mindset rather than as just entrepreneurship. Everyone from Gandhi to Steve Jobs to a Charlie Chaplin to a Walt Disney to Verghese Kurien to Subhangini Mistry. In fact, all of human progress has occurred because of the entrepreneurial mindset – imagination, passion, persistence, determination, hard work, team work, innovation.
USF: What’s the biggest *avoidable* mistake you made in your career?
Acting on impulse without adequately contemplating the chemistry vs arithmetic bit!
USF: A practical question: How long should an investor pitch be (e.g. # slides, minutes of delivery)?
No more than 30min, 10-15 slides.
To read some more on Mr. Anandaram’s thoughts on social entrepreneurism see the following:
- Entrepreneurial Persistence. Yourstory.in – 2012
- Is Social Entrepreneurship and Oxymoron? Wall Street Journal – India Chief Mentor – 2010
- Beyond Charity: The Case for Social Entrepreneurship. Startupjourney – 2007