Listen to this podcast to learn
04:04 - Learnings from building and selling SlideShare
09:18 - Government and Open Source model
16:07 - Government learning about the Openness of the internet
19:11 - Making DigiLocker Successful
25:25 - How founders can leverage infrastructures like Open forge, Digi locker and so forth.
28:58 - What is API Setu and its purpose?
35:42 - How to work with Government coming from Private Sector
Read the complete transcript below
AMIT SOMANI 00:14
Welcome to the Prime Venture Partners podcast. This is Amit Somani, your host. I’m delighted to have with us a dear friend and former entrepreneur and now a tech evangelist with the government, Amit Ranjan to the show. Welcome Amit.
AMIT RANJAN 00:30
Thanks Amit for having me. I think it’s a great pleasure to be part of this show. And my friendship with you goes back many, many years. I think we’ve done multiple programmes and initiatives over the last decade. And now doing this podcast, so great to be on the show.
AMIT SOMANI 00:53
Absolutely. And we should maybe start with that a little bit, even though that’s a little bit off the script here. Amit and I used to do a lot of these roundtables and other things for iSPIRIT and earlier than that at NASSCOM and NASSCOM product Council and so forth. So, how is the tech scene in Delhi? In terms of where it was when you and I would hang out, say 10 to 12 years ago, have things improved dramatically in terms of the tech talent and the product talent and so forth, compared to say, 10 years ago?
AMIT RANJAN 01:25
Yeah, absolutely. No questions about it. In fact when I see, when I meet teams now, in 2021, and I compare it to what we were like, 15 or 16 years ago, honestly I get an acute sense of inferiority complex, I find people are just so smart. And they are so quick to pick up. One of the key differences that comes to me is that, back then people were still trying to figure out the answers. So a lot of time and effort just went into which path to choose what to do, and while that was very rewarding in many ways. But it was also a little bit wasteful, in the sense.
Now, I think the ecosystem has kind of gotten to a stage where a lot of these paths are out there, they are clearly understood. And you really don’t have to spend a lot of time trying to kind of figure out which path to choose. You can go on the internet and listen to podcasts and read up blogs, and you know to a large extent which paybook should I adopt? So you can actually get faster, get into the execution mode much faster.
And I think that is probably contributing to this feeling that I get is that why are entrepreneurs so much more smarter today than they were 15 years ago, and even, in something like products, you look at product capabilities, design capabilities in a place like India. You’re asking about Delhi. Well, I haven’t been to a lot of these events lately, simply because of my involvement with the government.
So most likely, I would say, out of the circuit, but in general, you do get to see a very high proficiency, much higher levels of execution and this is a deluge. I mean, this is a great time to be an entrepreneur, and to be working in technology companies. And whether you are from product, or you are from technology, or you’re from design, or you’re from sales and marketing, there’s just so much energy happening all around you, that is a great time to be a part of this movement.
AMIT SOMANI 03:32
Wonderful. So you are, of course, most famous as one of the co-founders of SlideShare, and I’m still a very happy customer even post the LinkedIn acquisition, which seems like many years ago now. Just a very quick brief, and I know, you’ve talked a lot about it, maybe any of the lessons learned from that, including the exit process. And if you were to reflect back, what would you want to share with some of the newer age entrepreneurs in terms of what’s happening now?
AMIT RANJAN 04:03
Right. So honestly, SlideShare seems like so many years ago. I mean, it has been nine years since exit was made. So I would say that, two learnings that kind of spring to mind, when I look back, at that journey and that era. So obviously, we started in a very different era, this was 2005. And one of the things that you realise is that this whole thing about doing startups, it’s kind of a mix of the art and the science. And you got to kind of really get on top of how to kind of arrive at this optimum mix of where is the art and where is the science and I think the best way, this was kind of explained by Peter Thiel when he said that startups are zero to one and one to five and a five to ten and a ten to fifty and fifty to hundred journey.
What you realise is that at different parts of that journey, you need to think and act and behave very differently. The range of solutions that you have in the zero to one phase, which kind of tends to sign to the art part, it tends to be very different from what you would do in the ten to fifty, and the fifty to hundred. The whole gamut of solutions, approaches, the way you would go about building the company just kind of undergoes a complete somersault. So that was one of the learnings and while we got acquired, I would say, pretty much still in the early stages, but that was a learning that stays with me, and I’ve felt that even with my government stint, and then thereafter.
And the other thing that is worth kind of pointing out is that, and I think it’s, it’s talked about fairly often is that you realise the role and the value of building the right technology culture. I mean we’ve all heard the saying that culture eats strategy for breakfast. But you see that, that metaphor playing out in the lifecycle of a startup in so many different ways is that it finally boils down to the people you have.
And I always say this, that to me, the 50% of the role of a founder in any startup is just the people function. And when I say the people function, I mean, the whole set of activities that you need to first of all, be a magnet for the best people in industry, attract them towards your startup, be able to hire them, induct them, train them, get them to perform at a very high level, plan, their career progression, make sure that they feel rewarded. And if you can actually do a good job with this people function. That’s 50% of your job. 50% the job of any founder, and that’s also one of the reasons I feel that startups with multiple founders tend to have a little bit of an advantage simply because if you’re a sole founder, and so much of your time is just getting into just managing people, you might just have less time left for some of the other things.
So in a nutshell, that’s the two things that kind of come to mind when I look back at the SlideShare journey. And I would say that we’ve been fortunate to have played a small role in building something that was a part of the whole social part of the evolution of the internet. And, the consumer internet is very competitive. I often feel that it’s like the crown jewel in the entire internet space, it’s very competitive, it’s very hard to make an impact there. And we were fortunate to some extent with what we did at slideshare.
AMIT SOMANI 08:03
Absolutely, and I think you guys definitely contribute a lot. I think I’m a big fan of SlideShare, not just for the product. But what I’ve heard from you on the distribution on how you could get to like 100 million monthly actives with no marketing, or rather doing it all organically through content, and so forth. But maybe we’ll leave that for another day, because you’ve been doing amazing things since then. So let’s switch gears and talk about some of the work that you’re doing under the overall umbrella of digital India and in particular India stack. That has taken the world by storm.
And it has actually also unleashed a lot of these new age innovations, whether it be UPI, or Aadhaar E-KYC. And some of the newer initiatives, not newer, but some of the initiatives that you’ve been more deeply involved with such as Digi locker and more recently, Open Forge, so can you just talk to us overall about the whole India stack and what it is to be kind of innovating from inside the government for public good, but yet in a partnership model in an open source partnership model with the private sector, so I would love to hear about that. And then we can dive into some of the areas that you’re directly kind of driving, so to speak.
AMIT RANJAN 09:18
Right. So I would say that we were very fortunate, and I was personally very fortunate that, just when I was exiting SlideShare and LinkedIn and trying to figure out what to do next, that was the juncture at which this opportunity came about. And I would actually go back maybe half a decade earlier to that. So if you look at what happened with the Aadhaar ecosystem, way back in 2008 or 2009, where the government of the day kind of figured out that you need digital identity at the foundation to be able to build a whole set of public goods e-governance product services on top of it.
So By 2015, Aadhar was kind of pretty much on the march, the government had about 60-70 crore Aadhaar numbers given out. And that was the juncture where I think the feeling within the government was that, now that you have the digital identity capabilities of Aadhar, you can have them at your disposal. And now what are the other goods and services that you can build on top of it? And the other thing that was happening was this and there’s a lot of intrigue in the government, when they look actually at what happened in the larger internet.
And they looked at the likes of whatever happened and happened in Silicon Valley, looked at Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and the thinking was that if these companies can build such large platforms in so short time without spending tonnes of money, then why is that we cannot borrow some of that goodness, and maybe get it inside what governments are doing.
And so the realisation was that the governments need to actually understand this whole paradigm of openness, that kind of drives the Internet and when I say openness, so think open API’s, think open source, think open data. I mean, what is all this about? So I was fortunate enough to enter the government at that juncture, where they were, A-thinking about what to do next with the digital identity capabilities of Aadhaar. And B- the larger backdrop was there, they had started waking up to this whole business of open APIs and open source and open data.
And so, I would say that, my involvement largely has been around two or three different initiatives. So one was the Digi locker, which, as you mentioned, and Digi locker is, it’s a digitization platform for citizen centric data. So imagine all these documents and certificates that are issued to Indian citizens over their lifetime. And all of this happens on paper. So if you want to digitise and build a complete ecosystem for that, that’s Digi locker for you. So we started in 2015 and now it’s been about five or six years, and the platform is now up and running. It has picked up really well.
And on the other hand, the other project that we kind of got started with was something called Open Forge, and open forge was if I think most of us are aware of what GitHub has done. And many of the startups, many people in technology use GitHub services. So open forge just think GitHub, but like a private platform for the government. So the thinking was that if you really want to build high quality products and services, what are the tools? What are the systems? What are the processes that you would need inside the government to be able to do that. And one of the feelings was that we need to have things like open API platforms, open source platforms, and introduce some of these good next generation development practices.
DevOps was coming up in a big way, cloud computing was coming up in a big way. So the idea was that, how do you kind of introduce the government’s internal teams to some of these latest and the newest trends? So we built open forge there, and it’s been an interesting journey. And now is the time when the platform has really started picking up because it’s taken us a little bit of a while. One of the challenges that I’ve personally had with open forge is that, something like digilocker, is very easy to explain to anyone. And whether it’s a bureaucrat, or it’s the minister, or anybody else, you don’t need to really explain, they understand what this is. But it’s very hard to explain something like what is open forge, what is open source, what are open API’s to people, like bureaucrats and ministers who obviously are busy in their own word. And they may not necessarily have a particular understanding of this. So to be able to explain it to them, to really dumb it down to the level of least common denominator and explain to them that this is what this platform is. I think we’ve definitely,I personally have had a little bit of a struggle and we’ve had very important learnings.
But now I think we have kind of entered a different stage where there’s also understanding about things like privacy, consent. India is on the verge of kind of rolling out its data protection law. So I think now by 2021, there will be a much higher level of understanding and heightened awareness about open source or open APIs and open data and things like that. So we are seeing that open forges are now really lots and lots of government departments are taking to it and their own development practices are kind of just going from the jumping orbits completely. If they were like, here right now they have jumped up to two levels completely. So that has been the kind of project that I’ve been involved with, during my government days.
AMIT SOMANI 15:28
There are lots of follow up questions, but let me just start with this, both your opening comment and the last one, which is cultivating an open mindset in fundamentally an organisation like the government, which is inherently, I don’t say close minded, but they’re sort of very focused and they’re sort of more inward focused. And that’s where all the notion of bureaucracy and all that kind of comes in. So how did that even happen overall or is it that the success of things like Aadhaar and UPI and so on led the government to have a more open mindset, and therefore, it’s like a little bit of a virtuous cycle to encourage these other initiatives like open forge and so forth.
AMIT RANJAN 16:07
I would say it’s a combination of things Amit, to me when somebody like Nandan Nilekani, who was the head of the Aadhaar project, he came in and the Aadhaar team was adopted or open architecture, whereby the government was helping build this platform, but the whole idea was that both the public and the private sectors can actually plug into the platform. So it was kind of a radical shift from the way the government thinks about whatever they are trying to build. It’s a fundamental shift in the way the government thinks about it. But the reason why I think it resonated with the government also was because the government was influenced by what they were seeing on the larger internet. And I was going back to my earlier point that they were looking at I remember when I went to, when I joined the government, and this whole thing about how much money do you spend on IT platforms and technologies.
And when you realise that all these companies like the Googles and the Yahoo’s of the world, they’ve actually spent zero money, and it’s all open source technologies. Whereas if you go into the government, typically, they’d be spending crores and crores of rupees in their IT budgets going after proprietary software. So at some point in time that question kicks in, even within the government that okay, how is it that we are spending these enormous sums of money and yet the end product that we are able to build is not really that great, but you look at all these companies, which seem to have sprung out of university campuses, two people in a garage, and obviously you don’t have the kind of resources that a sovereign government would have.
So at some point in time they start kind of questioning what is happening here, what is this big wave that we are missing? And I think that’s where they would have figured out that we really need to understand this whole thing about this open paradigm, whether it is open source, or whether it is open API’s. And I think when they would have looked at something like an aadhar, which was coming about on the same day. So what Nandan Nilekani would have done is that he would have actually resonated the same thing as Yes, there is immense value in building something on an open architecture, which kind of allows these network effects to kick in. So every new addition to the network kind of makes the network more valuable to anybody else who comes in later. So I would say it’s a combination of these multiple phenomenons that made the government realise the value of openness.
AMIT SOMANI 18:41
Got it. Let’s go back to Digi locker for a moment. And can you talk to us about some of the use cases where it has already been deployed successfully, both from a government point of view and there are private instances of Digi lockers and that API and that instantiation. So maybe some of the more commercially successful ones that you are aware of that people have leveraged the kind of digilocker framework and so forth.
AMIT RANJAN 19:10
Sure, so I’ve seen that some of the popular use cases revolve around digital identities. So if you are, for example, going on an aeroplane and you go to the airport or you’re travelling by train, and you go to the railway station, then now you can actually take out your mobile phone and flash your digilocker identity and it is accepted by the authorities. And it takes a lot to actually get that moving, by the way. I mean, building the technology part is just, I think, the easiest part Honestly.
AMIT SOMANI 19:44
Absolutely, I’ve personally used it and was scared the first time I was using it saying what if they say no, this is not proof of identity, and it works just fine.
AMIT RANJAN 19:51
Yeah, and I can double click on that, why it is so different, why it is so difficult. So let’s take the case of for example, these driving licences and these vehicle registration. So that is one of our most vital use cases. So across the country, actually pretty much across the country, I think except for maybe a few states, you can actually carry digital versions of the driving licence and the vehicle registration and if a cop stops you on the road and says, show me these documents, you can actually flash your digilocker digitised version stuff, but if you take a step back and say what would it take to make that happen? So, I would say that the technology piece of making that happen, actually didn’t take us more than about a year and a half.
This was one of the first use cases that we started out with and in 2015 and by the middle of 2016 this was up and running, but to make sure that if the cop on the road somewhere in a distant state in India, if he were to stop you and he kind of honours, your flashing the digital version of the documents in front of you, that takes a lot of effort and why because for example, something like in transport, transport is as is it comes under the concurrent list. So, you have the central list and you have the state list and you have the concurrent list. So, there are many of these departments which come into the concurrent, which means that it is both under the centre and the state. So, both state and centre have jurisdiction over this.
So, what it meant was that, after we made the use case, we actually went to the central transport ministry, the Ministry of Transport, and they actually first notified that digilocker documents are valid, and they are considered at par, and they can be used for showing up these documents and all. But just the central notification is not enough, what do you do now is that you go to each of the 35 states and union territories in India, and get each of them to actually notify individually about that the digilocker is valid in my state, it is valid in Andhra Pradesh, it is valid in Uttar Pradesh, it is valid in the northeast, it is valid in Tamil Nadu.
So you can imagine that just to make sure that the technology actually gets adopted and used at the grassroots level. Now it becomes like a mammoth task for our team, for the digilocker team to go around the entire country, talk to all these 35 government departments and get them to actually notify and issue, because they have to go back and amend the state laws. They will notify you only if it actually is part of their legal status and they’re part of the law. So what happened is that you build this technology in a year and a half, the next 6 to 12 months, the central transport ministry notified that but it took us the next three years to get all these states to notify about digilocker usage across the length and breadth of the country.
So, that has been a key learning for us. So those are very popular use cases for driving licence, passport, showing on as I said, airports and railways, I think on the commercial side, I would say that you probably have not been as successful as I would have imagined or hoped. But there are notable use cases, which are picked up big time. So, for example, one use case that comes to mind is this online, share trading platforms, so think of the likes of Zerodha, ICICI direct UpStox. So that entire industry are actually taken to the digilocker in a big way, because they have to sign up users as part of their online workflows. And digilocker is a part of the online KYC that they are doing. So that entire industry uses Digi locker in a big way. And I would say that’s been a good successful implementation, reference implementation that we cite. Now you have the video KYC norms that are being used by fintechs, by NBFCs and by banks. So, a lot of those use cases also are using digilocker. But yes, in general I would imagine that, I wish we had more usage on the commercial side, but hopefully it will pick up soon.
AMIT SOMANI 24:29
So following up on that. So obviously, you have the Aadhaar E-KYC framework, to be able to authenticate people and so forth. So, when you’re saying people are using digilocker is that mainly for digital document sharing between the provider of the service in this case say Zerodha or the consumer wants to get a stock trading account is that what it has been used for?
AMIT RANJAN 24:49
In the digital KYC norms you will have to furnish online proof of identity and online proof of residence. So, what most of these platforms are doing is that they’re not actually using only digilocker, by the way, I’m not making that claim. But as part of their KYC workflow, they would have integrated digilocker, whereby you can actually use it and get your original proof of identity or proof of address which is integrated or embedded in the online version. So that is what is happening.
AMIT SOMANI 25:25
Got it, coming back to the open Forge, are there any other ways that you recommend startups or founders leverage all this infrastructure, beyond the ones that are obviously talked about in terms of either leveraging in terms of APIs and so forth, or even contributing to it, such that they can further act. I can imagine a company in logistics space or transportation, even just the examples you cited with digilocker, should be very useful to them, because they can make it much easier for the transporters and the drivers, and so on, so forth. But how do you recommend startups take advantage of this? Is there a place they should go hang out? Or things they should follow? Or what should they do?
AMIT RANJAN 26:10
Yeah, I think specifically with reference to something like an open forum, or API Setu which is the new open API platform that is coming up, I would imagine that we are probably entering that phase or that zone, where those platforms will now be opened up to the public. Right now they’re usually just confined within the government. So imagine something like you mentioned, startups which want to kind of contribute. So if there are specific codecs or SDKs, or any open source packages software that they have built, and they want to kind of put it on the platform, that is something that we can encourage.
Because the whole vision behind something like open Forge, finally, is that it is envisaged to be a partnership between the government and the community. And the whole idea is very much like what we see in open source across the world. Why can’t the community participate in making government platforms better? Why does the government need to spend every time they want to create a new platform? Why do they need to start from scratch, why can’t they just reuse things that are already available in the open domain, and that have been kind of either open source or there are contributors from the community who would love to kind of be a part of it.
So I think what we’ve logically done is that the first phase of these platforms was kind of confined and mostly focused inward within the government, that let departments within the government or government to government G to G, let the U to G use case be kind of, explode. And the next logical step is the G to C space, where it is that the government to community so I would imagine that we are very close, we are approaching that phase, with respect to these platforms where the private sector, or startups or members of, and this could even be individual contributors from the community, I think they will get a opportunity and a chance to participate in these platforms.
And obviously, there’s a whole need for upgrading these platforms to make it better. While the government has come up with these platforms, I think I would not make the claim that they are the bleeding edge in terms of either technology or product or design. So there’s a lot of words that can come in there, a lot of contributions that can come in from the community side to make these platforms as good as what we see on GitHub and some of the other popular platforms. So that opportunity, that window, I think it’s just about coming up. And the community should be up for it sometime soon.
AMIT SOMANI 28:58
Wonderful. You briefly mentioned API Setu, if I got the name right. Can you just elaborate a little bit on both, how that came about and what is the kind of purpose of that?
AMIT RANJAN 29:09
Yeah, that’s right. So this is a very exciting new development. And actually, the way it came about is that, so here’s the backstory, I think in 2015. So between 2015, 2016-17, the Government of India, essentially has rolled out specific policies and national policies. This is the country’s national policy for open source, national policy for open API national policy for open data. So this has happened in the last three, four years. And so I think the open API policy was rolled out I think in 2017 or 2018. And one of the things that was attempted in that policy was that said that the country should try to create some kind of platform, wherein these open APIs can be showcased, and you can actually build a complete ecosystem around it, again, in the private and the public space where the government and the community can actually come together.
So this was envisaged but that only started happening in 2020 onwards. So when the government started looking at, how do you kind of create an open API platform, and when the brainstorming was happening, and deliberations are happening, that what is the starting point for actually building this platform, one of the realisations was that if you look at what we have built for digilocker, but there’s a lot that has to pass to logical architectural part. So one is obviously the front end of the application when you log in, and you see all these links to your documents, which is the application part. But the back end for digilocker is nothing but an API gateway which is where the data exchange is happening, because the whole concept of Digi locker works around issuers and requests, issuers of these data’s and these documents. And there could be requesters of, or consumers of this data and digilocker acts as the logical API gateway through which this exchange is happening.
So while the government was looking at API Setu, the realisation came that what the API setu needs to be. Actually digilocker has already built the key component or the main back end for that, since 2016. And that is up and running that has been used in the platform. So what is the need to actually rebuild a new application from scratch. So what they did was something which was very imaginative, is that they actually split digilocker into two logical parts. One is the front end part. And the other part, which is the back end of Digi locker, it’s kind of being rechristened as API Setu, which is this open API platform. And I don’t think this platform has been publicly launched as here. And some internal testing and development is going on at the moment.
But the moment it gets launched, that will give opportunity for anybody, whether you are in the private space or I would imagine that it would start off more with public use cases before it moves to the private use cases. But you will have an API directory where you can actually go and list your API’s on that directory, and people and other developers who want to actually use those APIs, they can actually go and look up that directory, and they can actually sign up and API Setu becomes like this master gateway through which that API exchange is happening.
And also it’s worth pointing out Amit, is that in the e-governance space there are a few countries which are kind of considered the gold standards. And while they are smaller countries, by far Estonia is a country which kind of gets talked about a lot. Singapore is another which is talked about again, Estonian and Singapore, they’re considered kind of the gold standards as far as the e-governance systems are concerned. A lot of the good work in e-governance Estonia has done, actually happened post 1990s. And one of the things that they actually did in 2002, or 2003 onwards was they actually built a platform, which is called x roads. So you can google it later, x roads and x roads is this logical gateway, which sits at the hub of the Estonian e-governance ecosystem. And it’s actually been a very successful implementation. It’s a reference implementation that governments across the world have studied and tried to understand.
I think Estonia obviously has the advantage that it is a much smaller country, and it just got created post 1990, so they don’t have a lot of legacy that might bog them down. So they obviously had those advantages, but the entire world has looked at what countries like Estonia and Singapore and x roads and these platforms have done, and tried to kind of ask this question: is there a possibility? Is there an opportunity for us to replicate this in our country? So what is happening with API Setu, the exciting part is that I think it’s a logical step towards moving towards a x roads paradigm is that the country will have API exchange gateway, and APIs in the public space for sure, and maybe in the private spaces where you would have some kind of a directory structure where you could actually lists these APIs and interested developers and organisations and companies can actually come and sign up for those APIs and actually use them. So I think a lot of the different fragmentation, a lot of the siloed nature of what you see in government systems, you will be able to actually mitigate that with something like API Setu once it comes up.
AMIT SOMANI 35:12
Very, very fascinating. I think I was just trying to remember, I think one of the Skype co-founders was an Estonian citizen and he was talking about how progressive the country is from a digital point of view.
AMIT RANJAN 35:27
Yeah, that’s correct. In fact, some of the early developers who built Skype, once they exited Skype, they actually went on to work with the government of Estonia. And that’s a well recognised and well understood thing that happened.
AMIT SOMANI 35:42
Yeah, it’s time to remember the name of the person, but I think it was Ahti, if I’m not mistaken. Anyway, so Amit, as we wrap up here at the end of the podcast, you made a very interesting career transition from a corporate world to starting a company as a co-founder successfully exiting to LinkedIn. And then now to working with the government for so many years. What is your sense of, what has worked well and what have been some of the challenges for others like you who might be inspired to contribute to the government and to make India a digital first country along the paths that we’ve talked about right now.
AMIT RANJAN 36:22
Right, to be honest Amit, my journey was not really a very planned one. And one of the things that I’ve learned, kind of over the years is that one should not plan long term, you can plan medium to short term, but just the pace of change around you is such, and who would have imagined the internet and the way it has come about and invaded our lives. So, if you plan long term, sometimes it can be restrictive. So it’s better to plan for the short term and be open ended, be willing to explore new unforeseen things. So that is what has happened with me honestly, is that it’s not been long term planning, a lot of things have happened by accident. And coming to the specific question you asked, once I was exiting SlideShare, and even the government’s thing kind of came about in an accidental way.
But I thought that it was in a way a logical extension to what I was trying to do with SlideShare and especially sitting here in India, I mean we were trying to build innovative products for the, for the global audiences, and once we exited that, a lot of the learnings that I had at that stage were all about how do you build teams? How do you build products? How do you get distribution? And how do you get engagement? How do you scale something to be really big and those questions are relevant, even on the government side, it was just that I was not thinking with the government in mind when those things were happening to me at SlideShare,
But what happened with India stack, and iSPIRIT gave me an opportunity and a platform. And, to be honest my first reaction when this government opportunity came my way was like, Of course not, I mean, I don’t want to work in the government. But then I took a step back and I said this is a very unique opportunity. And for people like me, the way I would advise others is that, if you really want to, if you’ve worked in the private sector, you’re in the private space. And you should think about maybe contributing on the public side, on the government side for a few years. You don’t need to make a transition once and for all, but it can be very, very enriching, it can be a very rewarding experience.
If you could think this way, you could say, okay, let me take out two or three years out of my career, and you have been working on the private side for the last 20 years. But what if I could devote maybe two or three years on the public side, on the government side because it is definitely a different cup of tea, but it is rewarding in a very different set of ways, though, the way I would describe it is that the rewards on the public side are actually very different from the rewards on the private side. And so I feel very thankful that this happened to me and my advice to others would be that you don’t necessarily need to think that, I need to ditch my private career once and for all and then make a decision that okay, from now onwards, I’m going to work in the government side, No, I don’t think that’s the right way to think.
The way you could think is that you think of your career in different segments say okay, whatever for the last 15-20 years on the private side, what if I were to devote the next 2,3,4 years on the other side as well. Work for governments, look at the scale at which governments operate. And in a country like India, there is opportunity all around. The good thing, I mean, not to say the good thing, but so many things are broken in India. So the opportunity to look for solutions and build systems that actually make a real difference in the lives of citizens is immense. It’s just beckoning you, it’s kind of inviting you in such a big way. So that’s what I would advise others who are at that phase of their career and trying to make a decision about this.
AMIT SOMANI 40:34
Absolutely wonderful Amit and I think you’re kind of being very understated. I think the impact that India is having, I think we’re probably the largest country, even though I really appreciate the work that Estonia and Singapore have done. So whenever we travel abroad and in other situations as Prime Ventures and the two of my partners also volunteered for Aadhaar for two years. I mean the amount of awe and envy that India stack and Digital India generates is just unfathomable. So hopefully this puts us to a lead in the 21st century. So thank you so much for all the contributions and the volunteering you do there. And thank you for taking the time to be on the Prime Venture Partners podcast.
AMIT RANJAN 41:15
Thanks a lot. I mean, this was real fun. And thanks a lot.
AMIT SOMANI 41:21
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