Entrepreneurs talk about mentors: Anurag Garg of Plex Systems Inc.
One of the strongest business relationships entrepreneurs develop is with their mentors. We will spotlight some of these relationships in this and future blog posts.
Anurag Garg is a Purdue alumnus and Vice President of Product Management at Plex Systems Inc. He earned his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Purdue University’s Elmore Family School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. In 2012, he founded Bearing Analytics. The company was renamed Dattus in 2013.
Dattus solutions connected manufacturing equipment and sensors to the cloud, managed high-volume data streams and analyzed in-motion equipment data to optimize performance, reduce costs and ensure uptime. Garg served as its CEO until Plex Systems acquired it in 2018.
One of Anurag’s mentors while he worked at Dattus was Emily Liggett of Liggett Advisors. Anurag generously agreed to answer some questions about this business relationship.
Question: How did you make first contact with Emily Liggett?
Anurag Garg: I was introduced to Emily via the Silicon Valley Boiler Innovation Group, or SVBIG, mentor network. Emily was among a group of alumni advisors that volunteered to support me and my team at Dattus.
While most of the mentoring happened over conference and video calls, Emily was also extremely gracious and hosted me at her house on my first trip to the Bay Area to meet the SVBIG group in person. She continued to be a champion throughout the Dattus journey, and it has been great to stay in touch over the years.
Question: What subjects did you and Emily Liggett discuss with one another?
Garg: We discussed everything from business and product strategy, navigating the fundraising process, assembling and running an advisory board, building a team … and Emily made a number of early introductions to others my team and I should have been speaking with and learning from.
As young, inexperienced founders, having role models/coaches/mentors to look up to and learn from, especially ones that were so generous with their time was invaluable. Emily was that role model and mentor for us in the early days of startup life.
Question: How did this connection with Emily Liggett benefit Dattus?
Garg: Emily’s and SVBIG’s impact on Dattus went beyond company strategy and building a good startup. Of course the guidance, coaching, introductions and early nudges to stay focused were a big part of our overall success; but in hindsight perhaps the bigger value was in how mentors like Emily coached and shaped young, inexperienced founders into entrepreneurs and successful business leaders.
The early doors that Emily opened and the credibility that came from her introductions gave us the much-needed nudge to stand out in an otherwise crowded entrepreneurial field and put us on the path to success.
Question: What are your overall thoughts about mentoring? Would you become a mentor yourself?
Garg: Simply put, I wouldn’t be where I am today personally without the guidance and support of mentors and coaches who helped me along the way. As clichéd as it sounds, my success, and that of Dattus, was “on the shoulders of giants” like Emily. And the amazing thing about mentors is that often they’re unaware of just how much of an impact their acts of kindness make on shaping their mentees’ lives and careers.
I have been and continue to be a mentor to various individuals and startups for this exact reason. Mentoring isn’t always a formal act that happens in formal meetings, but rather something that happens in a long-term relationship you build with individuals. I can only hope that I have the same impact on my mentees that mentors like Emily had on me.
Question: Is there anything else you’d like to say about entrepreneur-mentor relationships?
Garg: I’m deeply appreciative for all that Emily and the broader Purdue alumni group, particularly SVBIG, have done for me personally and for Dattus. Their impact was bigger and broader than they might realize. I just wish I had taken more photos to document the journey along the way!
Are you interested in mentoring a Purdue startup entrepreneur? Baylee Neff, Purdue Foundry’s director of entrepreneurial talent, at email@example.com.
About Silicon Valley Boiler Innovation Group
SVBIG is an organization focused on mentoring student, faculty & recent grad entrepreneurs at Purdue University to advance their start-up idea/company. Engagement includes early ideas in the classroom through company formation and start-up to company liquidity event.
SVBIG comprises professionals with proven experience in entrepreneurship, and with diverse expertise in areas such as venture capital, angel investing, startup leadership, venture finance, and early go-to-market experience in product and channels.
SVBIG = “SV” for the Silicon Valley entrepreneurial thinking origin and “BIG” for alignment with Purdue, the “Boilermaker Innovation Group.” In addition, “BIG” is the way we think.
About Plex Systems Inc.
Plex gives manufacturers the ability to connect, automate, track and analyze every aspect of their business — from the shop floor to the top floor — to drive business transformation. Built in the cloud, the Plex Smart Manufacturing Platform includes MES, ERP, supply chain management, Industrial IoT and analytics to connect people, systems, machines, and supply chains, enabling them to lead with precision, efficiency and agility in an ever-changing market. Plex Systems is now a Rockwell Automation Company.