He set up India’s answer to networking site LinkedIn. Today, Yogesh Bansal, 39, can boast of a user base of close to two million. But his entrepreneurial ambitions in the United States were sparked off by the need to socialise.
After an MBA in finance and information technology from the University of North Carolina in September 1997, Bansal joined McKesson, which developed IT applications for hospital automation. An extrovert who loved partying after a hard day’s work in Charlotte, a financial hub, Bansal hung out with co-worker Don Solomon.
“We used to go clubbing after hours. At that time incoming calls on mobile phones were charged. Soon our monthly bills spiralled to $400-500. So Don and I set up a webpage called choa, where we alerted friends on the city’s nightlife. Gradually, we began charging them $20 a month. It was then that I first thought of setting up a networking site such as Apna Circle.”
He has come a long way since. Courtesy a tie up with Viadeo-Tianji and Unyk, Bansal boasts of a combined user base of 33 million.
What made him return to India after nine years in the US?
“The quality of life. It could be as simple as getting a cup of bed tea in the morning. There’s a certain warmth in the way people make sure I’ve had lunch in the middle of a hectic day. This is what I was missing in the US.”
IIT, IIM and IAS
Sanjay Purohit attended some of the best educational institutes in India before making a career as a turnaround specialist in the United States during the peak of the financial meltdown.
Somehow, the Jodhpur native always felt students from India’s tier-two towns never got the same educational facilities as their urban counterparts. So, he returned to India in 2010 to set up an e-learning superstore.
“My engineer dad was posted in small towns such as Churu, Sardar Shahar and Bikaner. I want to take education to every town where technology has touched lives,” he says.
Unlike his student days when a heavy schoolbag cramped his style, the lessons — video lectures, animation and test papers — are imparted through a 7-inch tablet that weighs less than half a kilo.
The mechanical engineer joined the civil services before IIM-Ahmedabad. After working with Motorola as director strategy and global marketing in Chicago, Purohit found himself in the hurly burly of New York’s business transformation industry. “From 2004 to 2009, as managing director of Loughlin Meghji, we acquired distressed assets and tried to turn them around.”
But after five years as a turnaround guru, the entrepreneur was itching to take a risk. He chose to return. “Who says education is unglamorous: high net worth individuals are ready to back entrepreneurs. All you need is a good idea.”