[Photograph courtesy Mint]
A few days ago, Kris Gopalakrishnan was transiting through Mumbai. Bring his name up, and everybody thinks “that Infosys man”. Yes, there is no taking away from the fact that he was part of the founding team at Infosys, led the company as CEO through some of its most turbulent times and continues to remain a large stakeholder. But he has moved on to other things as well.
The understated “Kris” as everybody calls him, has just completed work on itihaasa, a “multimedia work of love” that meticulously documents the history of the Indian IT industry. It is available to anybody as a free download. He spends a good amount of time at Axilor Ventures mentoring early stage startups. Then there are philanthropic activities he is interested in.
Much has been written and spoken around all these. That is why I thought I might try and steer clear of this ground. I wondered if it would be possible to try and ask the famously reticent Kris to share his learnings from the road on what I think has been a life well lived. Which is what I did, around four broad areas.
1. If the idea of turning entrepreneurial is playing on my mind, what is a good time? When do I take the so-called plunge?
2. What is it like to be an entrepreneur? What was it like for him? Is it lonely? What kind of a journey is it? What kind of pressures do you feel? How do you protect yourself?
3. Now that he’s been there, done that, what does he think of the future and where is he investing his personal monies?
4. What kinds of regrets does he have? What advice does he offer the younger ones getting into business? And is it really possible to be an idealist given the kind of landscape we live in today?