The Startup Guy — Vijay Anand #JeenaIsiKaNaamHain

Today’s #JeenaIssiKaNaamHain is on Vijay Anand who started as the voice of Indian startups and continues to remain very passionate about taking this segment to greater heights. Today, startups represent everything that’s celebrated about New India but I want to take you back in time, circa 2007, when they were a fledgling idea and finding it difficult to break down entry barriers superficially created by the large companies to ward off challengers. In these 15 years and what seems like a lifetime for many of us who are around, so much has happened as collaborative efforts continue to grow. Things don’t happen just like that, they have to be driven, and oftentimes, the people who start something get overshadowed by the next generation which was handed the baton. It is in the nature of the movement itself — it is so powerful and omnipresent that it has only room for, well, only the present.

Around this time (2007–8), things were warming up and startups were emerging as impactful players. IIT Madras staged a big event — Proto.in to evangelize the sector’s deep capabilities and Vijay was the face of the organizing team. Remember, this was a time when there was no WhatsApp, and Facebook wasn’t even versed with the idea of Metaverse. He did an outstanding job in running the show — handling registrations, and answering every query with speed and accuracy that we only see in digital platforms. When I say this, I do not exaggerate — it requires great passion to remain connected through traditional communication channels. The one-to-many instantaneous relays which are the bread n butter of this generation were not as easy to execute back then. Vijay was always tech-savvy and ahead of his time so he put to use whatever tools he could gather. To impress upon you how much has happened in all these years, the likes of Myntra & iXigo were showcased in this event for the first time.

Vijay did all that he could, to create the buzz for startups, and a parallel can be drawn with the late Dewang Mehta of NASSCOM and what he did for IT services companies. In the subsequent years, Vijay could have been the face of this large event but as luck would have it, that was not to be. It would not dampen his spirit and he went ahead and did some sterling work on the Payments ecosystem, a government project, with Prof Ashok Juhunjhunwala of IIT Madras. Later on, he started The Startup Centre and it’s been going strong.

At that time, I was with NASSCOM and there were two people who I followed regularly on Twitter and various other blogging platforms — one was Vijay of course and the other was Kiruba Shankar. I followed them for many years and drew a lot of learning in the process which I continue to put to use this very day. There’s one more story I’d like to share — the Goa Project.

In 2011 at the NASSCOM Product Conclave we were brainstorming one evening and we realized that all our participants were the usual suspects — startups. It was Vijay who drove the idea of what would be called the Goa Project, an Unconference that attracted 400 participants of which only 30 or 40 were startups. This time we were able to reach out to a larger community of hoteliers, dancers, athletes, and folks from the Merchant Navy. He was like a glue that held the community together. He also started the “Open Coffee Club” in Chennai which drew many participants. On numerous occasions, I’ve had breakfast with him and he shared his vision of making a big difference to the startup community.

To me, he is THE Startup Guy — he is playing for the long haul, demonstrates extraordinary passion in driving his vision, and is fearless while articulating what he wants to say. What is remarkable about him is the efforts he makes in writing personalized messages. If you have received his birthday greetings, you will know what I am talking about. He mentions things about individuals that often go unnoticed in the humdrum of life and it never fails to create the Aha moment. I guess that’s what makes relationships stick.

We need many many more Startups Guys like him till it becomes a legion.

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Avinash Raghava

Avinash Raghava

Building @ScaleTogether, Founding Volunteer at @SaaSBOOMi | Past: Community Platform Evangelist @Accel_India. Co-Founded@iSPIRT(@Product_Nation), @NASSCOM

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