After the Silicon Valley, it’s Ghar Wapsi

For Punit, shifting to India from the Bay Area was not a decision based on emotion. “It was an interesting opportunity and that is a testament to where India stands today,” he says. Punit was born in Mumbai and after completing his BTech from NIT Kurukshetra, went to US for his master’s in 1998. It was the time of the internet boom in Silicon Valley.

The Wharton business school graduate joined Google in 2007 and his association with Flipkart started while he was product head of Motorola. India seemed new to him after being away for close to 20 years. “Initially, I had my prejudices about working in India, but later I realized they were the same pool of people.”

Flipkart did not seem very different from companies in Bay Area. “The startup ecosystem in India is here to stay,” he says. The situation in India today reminds him of what the Bay Area was in 1999. Although he expects thoughtfulness to come with the current valuations of startups, he expects India to change in the next 10 years.

Anand Chandrasekaran | 36
Chief product officer, Snapdeal
Years abroad: 14
Previous employers: Yahoo, Bharti Airtel
Returned to India: 2014
Why he’s back: “I can’t imagine a better time in the past decade to be building product-driven businesses in India”

Anand Chandrasekaran has worn many hats-as an entrepreneur, product leader and advisor. In his new role as CPO at Snapdeal, Anand calls himself the steward of the end-user, building products for a billion users. That seemed like the opportunity of a lifetime. “India has started to have the same energy that I felt in the Valley when I moved to study at Stanford.

I can’t imagine a better time in the past decade to be building product-driven businesses in India. That, and the chance to gorge on fantastic street food all the time, not just when I’m back on vacation,” says Anand of his return to India. He studied engineering at PSG College of Technology in Coimbatore before going to Stanford. He worked at several companies, including Yahoo. He says the Valley’s fail fast culture is the biggest thing India’s startup scene is picking up.

Tanmay Saksena | 35
Head of online ordering, Zomato
Years abroad: 8
Previous employer: Disney
Returned to India: 2015
Why he’s back: “India eight years ago was different from what it is now, and a lot of the credit for the change goes to entrepreneurs”

After getting an engineering degree from IIT-Kanpur in 2002 and working at Unilever for a few years, Tanmay Saksena took the usual route to the US and an MBA at Stanford University and a job in the Bay Area. He was director of operations at Playdom, a startup that developed games for Facebook and iPhone, when it was acquired by Disney in 2010. That’s when the culture of the company started changing and Tanmay wasn’t having so much fun at work. Although the games came under big banners like Marvel and Disney, climbing the corporate ladder was not enough for Tanmay.

“It was not exciting at all,” he says. With friends and family in India, it seemed only natural to look east. “I wanted to be closer to my family. I used to see them only through a computer screen,” he says. That’s when Zomato came calling and to him the online restaurant search service seemed “bold, ambitious and, in a true sense, a global startup”. He says Indian industry provides a lot of independence while the decisions are made solely based on what is optimal for growth of the business.

Krishnan Kasturirangan | 38
COO, Knowlarity
Years abroad: 10
Previous employer: McKinsey
Returned to India: 2010
Why he’s back: “The e-commerce wave had just started in India and I didn’t want to miss it”

After completing a master’s degree and a PhD in transportation engineering in the US, Krishnan Kasturirangan’s need for speed drove him into the world of business. He joined McKinsey & Co in 2006 and provided financial consulting services to various countries, including Nigeria. “Nigeria was exciting as the market was developing,” he says. It was an experience that whetted his appetite for working in growing economies. Solving problems in already mature markets in the US did not present him with “transformational problems” to solve. The decision to move to India was taken in a month with his wife Suman.

“India was home. We knew we would be happier here,” he says. They moved to Bengaluru in 2010, where Kasturirangan set up as an independent consultant. He joined cloud telephony company Knowlarity as chief operating officer in 2013, soon after it received Rs34 crore funding from Sequoia Capital. There is untapped growth in B2B companies as most of the attention is on B2C, he says. Although he says the professional environment here is a challenge, he believes that the excitement is greater and opportunities for growth abound..

Namita Gupta | 36
Chief product officer, Zomato
Years abroad: 13
Previous employers: Facebook, Microsoft
Returned to India: 2014

IIT Delhi alumnus Namita Gupta relocated to India in September 2014 to take up a new assignment as chief product officer at Zomato based in Gurgaon. Prior to joining Zomato, Namita spent six years at Facebook where she started as product manager on a team working on ads, pages, developer tools and mobile platform. She later became head of global games partner engineering at the social networking giant based in San Francisco’s Bay Area.

Prior to that, she worked at Microsoft in Redmond on Windows Presentation Foundation and Silverlight, Microsoft’s next-generation platform for writing rich client and web-based applications. In her Linkedin profile, Namita says her experience includes driving product strategy and design, strategic partnerships and relationships, and leading and building local and offshore teams. She started her career as a research intern at IBM in 1999 working on recognition algorithms and computer vision. Namita has 17 US patents to her credit in the fields of social networks, developer platforms and search.

Sonia Parandekar | 37
Director of engineering, Urban Ladder
Years abroad: 14
Previous employers: Microsoft, Groupon
Returned to India: 2014
Why she’s back: “There are so many opportunities for people to realise their true potential”

Sonia Parandekar’s interest in working with smaller organizations began during the time she worked for Microsoft from 2003 to 2011. When she joined the software giant, it was on a smaller campus with only 1,500 people, a very different atmosphere from the Redmond campus. After doing her masters at the University of Washington, the Pune-bred Parandekar joined Microsoft where she worked on Windows, Bing and Office, both in Redmond and in Silicon Valley. In 2011, she moved to Groupon in Palo Alto, where her love for ecommerce platforms began.

Within a year, she moved to Bengaluru to head a new team, an experience she describes as “crazy”. She returned to the US a year later but realized she missed the diversity of the workplace as well as of the city and looked for options that would bring her back. In 2014, she joined online furniture store Urban Ladder as director of engineering. “The work environment may be chaotic in India but people are far friendlier,” she says. “Working in this industry is an exciting challenge.”

Rajiv Bhat | 37
Senior VP, data sciences & marketplace, Inmobi
Years abroad: 8
Past employers: Mckinsey, Groupon
Returned to India: 2012

One reason Bengaluru boy Rajiv Bhat decided to move back was to be with his family-but it was also the draw of working with a startup. Bhat joined mobile ad network Inmobi on the insistence of his IIT Kanpur batchmate and the company’s co-founder Naveen Tewari. Bhat had sold his Y-Combinator startup Mertado to Groupon in 2012. Prior to Mertado, he founded analytics firm Kosmix that was acquired by Walmart Labs. “I was excited to be a part of India’s startup story and see how Indian founders were ambitious to scale their businesses globally,” he says.

In his current job, he is responsible for ad relevance, yield management using machine learning and network sciences. Bhat started his career as a business analyst with McKinsey and later did a stint as a research assistant in the atomic and optical physics group at Indian Institute of Science. He completed his PhD in Physics at the University of Colarado, Boulder. “Bengaluru is as global as any other city. It’s an interesting time to be in India where many entrepreneurs don’t want to sell out, build something exciting and add value.”

Peeyush Ranjan | 41
Head of engineering, Flipkart
Years abroad: 18
Previous employers: HP, Microsoft, Google
Returned to India: 2015
Why he’s back: “The quality of the opportunity (e-commerce) and the organization (Flipkart) brought us back”

Peeyush Ranjan saw in e-commerce the capability to dramatically improve the quality of life in India. Having grown up in the small and not-so-prosperous town of Muzaffarpur in Bihar, the transformational potential of e-commerce-its ability to give remote consumers access to the best of products and small sellers a global reach-was particularly alluring. So when Flipkart reached out to him, it did not take him long to decide to chuck his job at Google and move to India. Ranjan graduated in computer science from IIT-Kharagpur in 1995 and went to Purdue University, US, for an MS.

He worked at Microsoft, HP and three startups, including one that he co-founded. In 2006, he joined Google, where he worked on mobile devices, search and apps, and was India R&D head for two years when he was posted in Bengaluru. “My parents and brother are in the US. So family was not what brought us back. It was the quality of the opportunity and the fact that Flipkart is so well-positioned to take that opportunity forward,” he says.

Ashish Goel | 32
Head of design, Zomato
Years abroad: 4
Returned to India: 2015
Why he’s back: “The consumer market in India is now coming of age”

IIT-Delhi alumnus Ashish Goel switched from engineering to design after he started a small online photo service in 2005. Although it failed to take off, he learnt a lot from the experience and took a course on product design at Stanford University in 2011 and taught there for a year after he got his degree. Since Zomato CEO Deepinder Goyal was his batchmate at IIT Delhi, jumping to Zomato was easy. “I had worked in Zomato for a few months before I went to Stanford so I have seen the company grow,” he says.

The youngest of three brothers in the family, Ashish wanted to be close to his parents. The e-commerce industry, for Ashish, is exciting and what works for Zomato is its desire for better quality. “There is no ‘chalta hai’ attitude,” he says. This is reflected in the whole industry with young people now handling big responsibilities. He likes a challenge and hopes to start his own venture in three to four years.

 

[“source –┬átimesofindia.indiatimes.com”]