prime venture podcasts


Nandan Nilekani

This episode of PrimeTime features Nandan Nilekani, a successful entrepreneur, bureaucrat and former Chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).

In this podcast, Nandan talks about his experiences in starting Infosys at a pre-liberalization era, early days of the company and how has the ecosystem has changed over the years. He also talks about the importance of having a common purpose among startup founders while having complementary skills, how to think long-term and handle funding money consciously and think about positive economics.


0:01: Sanjay welcomes Nandan on the podcast. Sanjay will discuss with Nandan, his thoughts on entrepreneurship and what it means to build a startup

0:26: Nandan shares his experiences on starting up Infosys, which is today a multi-billion- dollar company; his experiences on starting up in a different era – pre-liberalization, when doing business was difficult, and start-ups were not looked upon favorably

1:06: Sanjay asks who was their mentor or did they have anyone specific to whom Infosys founding team could reach out to

1:29: While there weren’t so many people whom Nandan can strictly call mentors, there were role models like the founders of Hewlett Packard, to whom they looked up to and saw how they could model an Indian company with the best practices like HP had done

1:59: Sanjay asks the secret behind a large founding team

2:17: Nandan shares his experiences on working with Mr. Narayan Murthy, common values, common beliefs, how each of the founding team members had different strengths and how these skills were complementary in building Infosys

3:08: Sanjay out that Nandan has worked with the new breed of technology entrepreneurs and asks what is it that is similar to and different from the days of Infosys

3:34: Nandan expresses his happiness to be a part of the new ecosystem, opines about the new entrepreneurs who are ready to take risks, their intelligence; what aspects should young entrepreneurs focus on; his reservations on the startups burning money and pace at which the ecosystem is marching ahead

4:49: The conversation moves on to the access to venture capital and when the startups should start focusing on positive economics. Nandan feels that once the startup gets the product market fit right, the company should achieve economics to make it sustainable

6:11: Since Nandan usually quotes that the world is flat, Sanjay questions if Nandan saw the trend – of companies based of India, serving the rest of the world – coming

6:37: Nandan attributes this pattern to the penetration if internet, cloud, smart phones and all the new technologies that allowed SaaS to emerge as a strong and level play field for the entrepreneurs. He also talks about when he saw the ‘world is flat’ phenomenon happen

7:24: With India now having more than 200 million users of smartphones – as much as in the US, Sanjay wonders how fast this society transforming in India the whole smart phone phenomenon

7:41: Nandan adds his two cents about how the country is impacting the internet in a big way – he says that India is the only country that has ‘offline internet’. This rapid growth will reach about 500 million smartphones by 2020 with most of them will be connected. He shares some interesting statistics on how much data consumption can be expected, and the impact this will have on businesses and creating new opportunities in communication and education

9:41: Nandan and Sanjay discuss the top areas that would have a positive impact by this phenomenon and talk about the three big innovations of the feature phone world – the dual-Sim, missed call, prepaid and how these three things drive consumptions

12:24: Sanjay asks for a couple of tips for the entrepreneurs of today

12:36: The conversation comes to an end with Nandan asking entrepreneurs to be frugal, when the bank account is over-flowing