'We dare to be powerful beyond measure'
Sachin Dev Duggal who, at 14, began his first entrepreneurial stint has evolved into a seasoned professional today. With the success of cloud-based computing company nivio under his belt, Sachin was recently appointed by ASSOCHAM as the Youth Leader of the National Computer and Electronics Committee.
Sample this gem from Sachin: Entpreneurship is not just about thinking differently; it's about moving the needle. It's all about the passion to succeed, no matter what; the power to trust your dreams and make them come true. That's what, in my opinion, makes a successful entrepreneur.
Youth Inc catches up with the young CEO and discusses with him his exciting entrepreneurial journey.
You achieved success that people dream of all their lives at a very young age. How has this affected your life, personally and professionally?
A coin has two sides. Success to me has been good and bad. The ability to make a difference even in a small way, like how we raised US$3.5m for children with AIDS in India, has come as one part of the journey thus far. The journey, however, has been very difficult -- for one, it's not easy having to disconnect yourself from a regular method of living and being on the move continuously. I was laughing with someone that I recently spent five weeks in one location, and that was the longest I had been anywhere in ten years. The continuous movement becomes very hard to manage with a personal life.
Success, or better said, success in the media, has massive pitfalls -- you move from the euphoria of public recognition to the dilemma of trying to work out motives and raison d'etre of those that are around you. I guess it only gets worse... you become so conscious of those around you.
Professionally, it's been a roller coaster ride. To be taken seriously and respected as a professional is the most important element in our lives. Having taken the journey I have, this has definitely become more apparent!
At the age of 12, you had the chance to speak to the UK's Environment Secretary. You told him then what a bad job he was doing. Today, if you could have a meeting with the environment secretaries of the major countries of the world, what would you say?
I would tell them to focus on educating the children at the bottom of the pyramid and ensure they are building digital pipelines in their countries, as broadband and education coupled with access to technology are key for development.
As an environmentalist and a technology entrepreneur, how do you think that technology can help with our environment?
Technology brings in efficiency and allows people to learn more about the consequences of their actions. Centralising computing resources allows better utilisation of utility services such as electricity, thus reducing the carbon footprint of the computing cycle.
You helped start a company at the age of 14. Tell us about this experience. What value did you add as a young teen to the company?
One day, I managed to blow up my mother's computer and had to fix it fast. This got me quite excited and a year later I built my own PC after blowing it up twice. At 14, I started a small computer company with a friend. I kept building the business and, after selling over 100 PCs in the first year, went on to web hosting. I have learnt a lot about networks and pricing there, and launched one of the first affordable broadband services in India. We were both teens so the 'never say never' approach helped.
What advice do you have for other young entrepreneurs out there based on your own experiences?
Entpreneurship is not just about thinking differently; it's about moving the needle. It's all about the passion to succeed, no matter what; the power to trust your dreams and make them come true. That's what, in my opinion, makes a successful entrepreneur. At nivio, we dare to be great; we dare to be powerful beyond measure!
In the end, entrepreneurship is about solving a far reaching socio-economic problem and making money whilst you do it.
You have said, 'People work for people, not for companies.' Could you explain further?
Culture makes everything work. Good (and provocative) managers always have teams following them. It's about delivering past expectation and getting your team to deliver more. There is a fine balance between being a good boss and a nice boss -- and the key is, you have to be good, not nice. It's the relationships that you make that will follow you forever.
What was the experience like for you speaking at the World Economic Forum at Davos? What were the highlights of your visit?
It was surreal. I just cannot begin to explain how our first Davos event went. I don't think I slept a wink, and every breathing minute was spent meeting people, soaking in the intellect and freezing our toes. When I spoke at the forum, it was a massive rush -- euphoric!
How do you think cloud computing will reshape economies? How should governments react to adapt best to this change?
Despite the downturn, the IT budgets of companies increased in 2011. This is testament to the fact that data protection is vital to any organisation and its people. Mobility has introduced significant management and security headaches for IT. Cloud computing allows data to be mobile and secure. It can be accessed from anywhere, anytime. Cloud computing will bring in the next wave of change in the way people access the Internet, store and use data, and how much they spend on IT.
How do you think cloud computing can be harnessed to meet India's development goals?
Cloud computing is making computing hassle-free. We no longer need to carry multiple devices anymore. One device can now give access to all data, wherever you are. This will allow the proliferation of education and government services via the Internet, irrespective of the device. A great example of this would be the low-cost tablet project, led by the government, which is trying to provide access to educational material to students via the Internet.
The buzz word today is 'innovation'. As an innovator yourself, do you think that this change needs to be managed and nurtured? How should we best go about doing this?
Any change is usually difficult to adapt. But as an innovator, it is not only important to invent but also devise a way to make the adoption of change easy and convenient for everyone. This is exactly what nivio has been doing. nivio has made it possible for people to access their data and their desktops irrespective of the device.
Users no longer have to carry multiple devices. This is the true essence of ubiquity in computing. The proliferation of tablets coupled with the offerings provided by nivio such as nDesktop and nDrive will play a role in revolutionising the lives of consumers across the world.
Entpreneurship is not just about thinking differently... It's all about the passion to succeed, no matter what; the power to trust your dreams and make them come true.
Image: Sachin Dev Duggal, CEO, nivio