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In India, Simple Things Don’t Work Well Most of the Time

Pioneer of the ethernet networking technology, Kanwal Rekhi, shares his views on differences in entrepreneurial environment in the us and India with Nidhi Gupta. Tell us something about your experience as co-founder and CEO of Excelan.

It was a hard but exciting journey with no role models and mentors. I made the cardinal mistake of partnering with my friends. It was an acrimonious break up that caused me a lot of heart ache.

It was an exciting time as it was the dawn of PC computing and computer networking was looming as an oppor- tunity that we latched onto. We pio- neered TCP/IP and Ethernet. They eventually became building blocks of Internet. We did succeed in spite of our mistakes. We did have a successful IPO in 1987.

In India, many technology start-ups have had a hard time in getting the next round of funding. Is it true that it is difficult for technology driven start-ups to get funding in develop- ing countries like ours?

Second round of funding is tougher to get than the first. The first round can be based upon a good story and sales- manship. The second round is based upon the achievements since the initial funding. One has to define financially sound milestones and deliver on them to get the next round. Initial funding has to produce enough tangible results to inspire the additional funding. How different is the working condi- tion in West from India?

Workingconditionsinthesetwocoun- tries are totally different. US is an or- derly society where things work well all the time, India is chaotic society and simple things don’t work well most of the time. Entrepreneurial echo-system is very well developed in US, especially in Silicon Valley and Boston. One has to be a whole lot more self reliant in India.

How do you foresee the role of a leader in the 21st century especially in India?

Leaders in 20th century were fixated on poverty and wealth re-distribution. This has kept India backwards. We need economically literate leaders who are focused on wealth creation. We need to see some self-made people emerging as leaders, rather than scions of the political dynasties.

To retain talent in a growing com- pany is very challenging. What is the best way in which one can ad- dress this issue?

Early employees have to be treated as partners with fair amount of stake in the company. Attracting, motivating and retaining talent is the main job of the entrepreneur. One has to develop a fair, success oriented culture that values performance over everything else. Entrepreneur has to hold himself accountable to higher standard than he expects from others.

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