Coverage by Bhat Dittakavi of Variance.AI on speaker session by Kris Goplakrishnan, Cofounder of Infosys, on 5th May 2017 @ISB
Kris Goplakrishnan
Ask “Is this the best environment to start a business?.” We were at the right time at the right place. IBM quit India in 1997.
Every industry gets disrupted. Automotive industry will transform. Self driving, alternate fuel. Medicine: IOT: Fintech. This is the best time to start your own business. Existing businesses defend their turf and protecting their top and bottom lines while new businesses disrupt their industries. Startups are driver for new industries and new wealth.
Great place to start is India. We can leapfrog and we can think about the next model as CK Prahlad said. We have a blank sheet of paper. Only 4% of Indian population drive cars.
Individuals driving cars means our roads will become parking lots. Average speed in Bangalore is 8-10km. Rethink automobile, industry, ownership, public transport, smart cities, fuel to power these vehicles and so on. This is an opportunity for experimentation in India.
US got per capita 1.2 cars. Trying out something new in USA leads to might resistance whereas India is clean slate and open. Only 3% have cars.
Success means: Happy, money, peace, winning, fame, recognition and achievements. Different for different people.
Professional funding firms want cofounders as they want to de-risk. Alignment is important.
In 1989, we were renting apartments and no own houses. We were not having any what our friends got in USA. Family support is extremely important.
Horizon for success: Exit in 5 years or 20 years. Can you wait? There are factors outside your control. Even investors have horizon for exit too.
Is your idea worthy of a business?
Product startup is about solving a customer’s problem that leads to payment. Is the business scalable, defensible and fundable?
Our idea is “Global delivery model”.
Contracts, registrations, founder agreements and parents and so on.
When and how I should raise capital
Angel || Seed || VC || Series B…
Raising capital: How much? when? From whom?
Incubators and accelerators help you with answers for the above.
Society needs Startups and entrepreneurs:
Jobs are created. Wealth is created. Place like ISB should be able to generate data in India for India. 60% of the jobs are crated by SME and Startups. Out of this, 80% of the jobs are created in first five years. Why? After 5 years SME hit a plateau. CII got 60% SMEs. That AI the proof of what I stated. I said, “We create 20 million new businesses in next 10 years”.
What it takes to be an entrepreneur
Desire, sende of adventure, idea, commitment, passion, team, ability to take risks, horizon and so on.
Experience is probably a wrong thing to have in founder 🙂 successful ones are the ones who didn’t believe in conventional wisdom. They want to make something happen and something new.
One Advice: increase the probability of success by avoiding stupid mistakes, not aligning the values with other founders, not asking the right questions and so on.
Steve Jobs created Machintosh successfully. Then got fired and came back. Then created an MP3 player that failed. Then iPod turned apple around. He said no to phone at that time when someone asked. Later on he released a phone. Then someone asked will you introduce a tablet. Then he said no as who wants a computer without a keyboard. Even people like Steve Jobs couldn’t predict the future. Hence think about the predictable ones (design, aspiration and quality) that are in your control.
Timing of India, Timing of eave of technology and lessons of others.
You can reach me at
Q) Bala from Involute Institute of Technology: How did you influence people to build such big company? Have you thought of giving up?
Founders get involved I’m every single hiring  decision. Then we create formal processes. Hire, train and ensure their deliver to maximum potential and then appraisal, commendation and reward systems. Informal first and then formal processes. I decided to quit in 1989 and hung on.
Q) Salem from ISB: journey from Senapathi Goplakrishnan to Kris. You invested in Edutech  startup (Ourma)
Senapathi is my dad’s name. Gopi, Gopal, Goplakrishnan and are all taken. I took Kris for that computer lab id. Then I kept that nickname ad my real name in USA.
Technology changes education. Topic for another conversation.
Q) Avatar from ISB: You got many partners. How did you keep checks and balances for unified voice in decision making?
Alignment of purpose, goals, horizon are all key, we agreed to debate, fights but we set a time by which we make a decision and we follow that one decision maker (current CEO) if we go past the time.
Q) George from ISB: You talked about Steve Jobs and also Google founders who made way for Eric. Is there a right time for a company to bring in a CEO? What do you go after as investor? Idea or founders?
No right time. Drivers for change are all different. When we started Infosys, we made sure we wouldn’t bring families into the play. Retirement rules: 60 for executive roles and 65 is for board. Do ally we brought in Vishaal Sikka. Don’t be driven for change.
I go after team and idea.
Q) Dhanunjay from Narayana Engineering College: Survival bias of successful founders? Only 5% survive.
Yes and no. Portfolio got a normal distribution of returns. Self-guided single entrepreneurs are all around you. They succeed and India is full of them. Even a farmer is an entrepreneur, higher risk taker. Universal basic income is a different concept. It is about creating a social security income.
Q) Few graduate from small to big? What stopped many at SME?
Challenges are multi-folded.
Peter Drucker said, “Purpose of a business is to create a customer.”. The earlier you do market validation and Customer validation, the better off you are.
Q) Disconnecting your business after you left. Create a second innings like I did. Emotional connect never goes away. You are neither personally involved nor professionally involved. Connection is in the mind. Most of business in india are family owned. Nothing wrong.
ISB Dean Raj
Kris said 97% engineers and 3% MBA grads!
7% of ISBians are engineers.


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