What CIOs can learn from serial entrepreneurs: K. Ganesh

Radhika Nallayam

CIO: Meena and you are one of the most storied entrepreneur duo today. Having the right partner seems to be the key ingredient of success for start-ups.

K. Ganesh: In fact, all my ventures have had co-founders. In two of my ventures, my wife was the co-founder. I think it is extremely important for a start-up or rather any company to have multiple skill-sets and points of view. Building a start-up is extremely hard. The chances of success are less than 5 percent. When you are fighting these kind of odds, you would want to have all the aces in your hand. One way to ensure that is by having a bunch co-founders or partners to share the responsibilities as well as frustrations. It is extremely lonely to be an entrepreneur. Having partners, especially if they have different but complementing skills, helps a lot in completing the team. It is very important if you are planning to raise venture capital fund. VCs almost always insist on funding 'teams' rather than funding one individual.

CIO: You might have already observed that a large number of CIOs are reluctant to work with start-ups. Is that one of the biggest bottle necks that today's start-ups face in India?

K. Ganesh: Yes, especially the B2B start-ups face this problem. And I do not blame the CIO or the organization alone for that. As the saying goes, 'nobody got fired for buying IBM'. If a CIO buys from a start-up and tomorrow it shuts shop, he or she will be questioned as to why he put the organization at risk. In fact, many ERP companies have actually sold that fear very well to succeed in the market. They have been constantly pushing the message that if an ERP implementation fails, the CIO will be the first person to get fired as the whole organization will come to a stall. But at the same time, if you look at cloud-based products and SaaS offerings, start-ups are able to offer the same advantages as a traditional software vendor did, at a fraction of the cost with more features. So there is a fine balancing act the CIO has to do and I can perfectly understand why they have to do it.

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