Even top-notch corporate executives get bored with their work and that’s what happened to Sanjay Parthasarathy. Maybe in such cases the corporation is no longer seductive enough to feed the creativity or a stray thought emerges to create something on one’s own instead of creating newbies at corporations. Sanjay spent a little more than two decades at Microsoft, at the forefront of many new initiatives including the Startup Accelerator Program, which he headed, before he exited to become a startup entrepreneur and investor. The geeky executive headed home after a long stint in the US, to Chennai and started Indix, which is into data analytics and products that impact people’s lives. It would be of relevance to indicate that Sanjay directed Bill Gates’s first visit to India in 1997 and that led to a spurt in Microsoft’s India activities and also had high and positive impact on the software industry in India. Besides being an entrepreneur at Indix, he also plays angel investor and mentors startups in the US and in India. In conversation with YourStory, Sanjay spelt out his philosophy and his point of view.
You were in the US for 23 years; you graduated from MIT, worked at Microsoft for 19 years, what triggered you to come back to India?
I think I was a little bored, and the opportunity here was quite ripe, so it is really a combination of these two things.
If you have to look back at your corporate journey heading various divisions at Microsoft, what were some of your biggest take-aways?
Probably, creating things from scratch. I was with the Internet Explorer, then with .Net, and I helped set up the startup business accelerator. So, I always started things from scratch at Microsoft, so that was the biggest learning to do the startup kind of thing.
Starting stuff in bigger organizations vs. starting up as nobody, what are the differences?
Philosophically, they are the same things. You still have to argue for money, though the funding comes from the company in one case, you still have to put your idea out in the market, you still have to recruit a team, as they don’t give all of that to you, you have to take it. In a way, you have to do the same things.