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Dhiraj Rajaram, got featured in Economic Times recently as the CEO- founder of India’s first billion dollar valuation analytics startup.
This year, the company which employs 2,500 people across a development centre in Bangalore and offices in the US, UK and Australia, will build a data analytics lab in the US and hire 400 data scientists there.
I first met Dhiraj in 2008 Q1 for a job. We didnt agree partly because I needed to be close to my son ( who was 4 mth old) and I ended up taking a contract with another Bangalore based company. What impressed me at that time was something I rarely see in India’s analytics entrepreneurs-
1) A Grand Vision- Dhiraj said- I am trying to build the largest math factory on the world.
2) Focus- Dhiraj was focused only on analytics projects. No quick and easy outsourcing low end tasks and outsourcing for him.
3) Positivity- Not once during the entire two hour interaction did he say a negative word on competition, attrition, challenges, pressures.
4) Flamboyance- I wonder sometimes why a colorful culture like India’s end up with people being so meek in corporate culture. Dhiraj was probably one of the most flamboyant senior analytics leaders.
But there were some concerns I had in 2008 q1- including plans for IPO ( I thought that was early) and senior management flux ( the COO left in a few months).
Anyways Dhiraj grew the 200 strong team to around 900 by 2010 q3. This time again he called me for a job interview. This time we again found that there was nothing I was really good at in analytics company- with my interest in open source, blogging and writing books, and my morbid fear of managing people in operations. However I noticed some changes-
- There were greater signs of process driven orientation ( including messages to keep meetings short)
- There were newer people in senior management
- Dhiraj was slightly more restrained in his frank talk ( given his increasing stature and demands on his time and attention on him)
- I loved the sign on his Office- Jugad. Literally that means ingenuity in Hindi- and shows a glimpse into the maveric, brilliant and flamboyant nature of the CEO.
Again, there were some odd points. Mu Sigma continued to have the perception ( true or false, I dont know) of having a large number of attrition at junior levels. Again there were rumours that Dhiraj had become a bit autocratic in management ( which I found no clue of). I found that the biggest problem that Mu Sigma, Dhiraj had – they were creating enemies just by shaking up the slow IT Services mindset of India- where easy money was available just by low quality labor arbitrage. This cultural opposition to anything new (like a pure analytics company), or anything rapid ( like a company that scales up organically) could have stopped lesser men, but Mu Sigma moved on.
So it was quite nice to read the news, finally an Indian company , had broken the 1 billion mark. Allow me some leeway here. I truly believe analytics and maths have no nationality. But if you see the rampant poverty in India , what we need is more aggressive and impatient businessmen like Mr Rajaram, than the chalta hain _ ” it is okay” attitude.
Dhiraj and team, take a bow. You make us proud!