Successful Indian Business and Divorce. The longing for a 3-piece degree.

Indians are everywhere. Aren’t they?

Heck, the girl whom I went to CAT tuition with, in TIME Jayanagar branch, is in Denmark now. The cold country, where the culture and the lifestyle is something she wanted to experience. I remember, struggling to do Verbal section with her, where I swung through the quantitative section, in that tight/ space-less classroom. She was from MCC, the bomb girls-only college in Bangalore, known for hot girls. Who would deny the hotness of that college place when Anushka Sharma and Deepika Padukone are from Mount Carmel College, which raises the bar further.

It was good learning time in tuition and a good mate for life. We competed, I helped her in quant, she helped me in verbal. We studied together and wrote the exam in the same center. It was some luck that we wrote the exam in the same center. She was dis-heartened after the result. She got a 91 percentile, which is okayish, but way below her expected mark. She went out, to Denmark now. In the pursuit of learning more in the field of Digital Product Design.

My motivation in life, back in 2013 and 2014 were different. I was going to coaching class for this test called CAT but there was something else running in my head.

There was a huge buzz about startup businesses in Bangalore and that just attracted me. It was for the first time in 2014 that Flipkart raised over $1 Billion in funding. I was awed at the magnitude of the market that was present for online shopping. Then came a similar funding round to SnapDeal. I was in college and was attending CAT tuition in the evening from 5–8pm by going to Jayanagar center from my home in Banashankari. It was tough but I wanted this. I wanted to understand Business more.

It was in 2015 January that I took up aim to ace CAT. I studied consistently and I did well in the test. A 99 percentile did satisfy me. But a BSchool didn’t excite as much as a startup did.

The college I attended boasted of many startup founders in Bangalore. The college also boasted off some reputation in the region for being the nerds space. All worked in my favor at that time. It was in Nov 2015, that I contacted BYJUs for a possible position in the company, as I was about to finish my 7th semester exams. The advantage that I derived out here, was that startup — BYJUs (read Byju’s Classes back then), had the founding team which was full of my college alumni. I saw this offer coming my way even more smoothly.

I did get the offer. The company was a small one, in terms of number of employees. I was #58 employee of the company. In Jan 2016, I walked in the rented office space in Sony World signal, above Bata Showroom in Kormanagala. Ahh! it was a small business and very few people in office. But the zeal to make it a big business is what everyone’s aim was.

The team did work hard and today in July 2019, it is a $4 billion dollar company, entering the US Market with new acquisition of Osmo for $120 million.

L to R: Pravin, Vinay, Byju, Divya, Anita, Mrinal. The RVCE mafia.

My third point is on Divorce.

Businesses doing really well in India, specially the ones emerging out of the southern part has always been big. Bangalore is aptly called the startup capital of India as 5 out of the 8 successful businesses are housed in Bangalore.

One such successful business which I was following was MuSigma. A firm started by two Kongas (as I call them) but slowly the arrogance took over. The Kongas who started the firm are Dhiraj and wife Ambiga. (When Tamil pupils pronounce ‘K’ as ‘A’, I get the gist. Suhas — -Suhgas etc)

Dhiraj, the konga in picture is a BE, MS and MBA kid — you see the 3 piece degree that most top level executives like Sundar Pichai (Google), Satya Nadella (Microsoft) and Shantanu Narayen(Adobe) have, it is on the same line. So Dhiraj started this firm with wife Ambiga and the two divorced in 2018. Now Ambiga (Oooo Ambiga naan ninna nambide.. some traditional kannada song in my head) was the CEO of MuSigma when the couple split. She presently runs a VC fund and social platform like Facebook, raising honest opinions on some arbitrary topic

I have had close contacts with the top management of MuSigma, like I have close mentor in BYJUs like Pravin Prakash (VP Sales in BYJUs). I was always in some connect with the insider information of the business of MuSigma, its investors and their clients. It happened that Ambiga, who was the CEO of the firm was reporting her core-team’s performance to the group of chiefs which also included the husband COO Dhiraj.

The team hadn’t performed anything and the team head was defending her team in front of other chiefs of the firm. A point broke out (again just a insider info) when Dhiraj said “Your team hasn’t performed anything and it is a utter waste of time and resources”

Ambiga replied “No, they have”

Dhiraj hit back brutally “Aah, you will cover like Amma of Tamil Nadu. You act like a mother, you know what I am, I’m a mother fucker”

The entire room full of people went silent and eventually after a a year of back and forth, the couple, who are American citizens (is it american culture?) divorced and Ambiga left the firm with her due compensation to live with her 15/16 year old son.

So my question is, does more degrees mean that they are great human beings? and they behave well. Yes I agree to the point that running such a firm with more than a $1 billion revenue does require qualification and a strong business acumen which a Haldiram’s store in Chandni Chowk, Delhi, which is having a 1Cr turn-over, does not need.

Life is all about moment and our relationships with people around us. Business giants are not necessarily excellent human beings. As I part ways on three complex idea in this write-up, a constant line from my 10th class poem is striking my head. It is “If” by Rudyard Kipling. I have 2 lines out of it…

“If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with Kings — nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;”

Talk to crowds or to kings, but never lose your core inner values.



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Srikanth Prabhu

Srikanth Prabhu

Technology for Startup Businesses. Quantum Computing. Newspaper guy.