The Exodus Communication story actually began when B.V. Jagadeesh and his partner, K.B. Chandrasekhar started their Software services firm called "Fourss" and soon realized it wasn't shaping up to be a company that would change the way business was conducted and create a different kind of environment. In mid-1994 the Internet bandwagon dropped by and seeing an opportunity they jumped onto it, never to look back.
Exodus Communications kicked-off as a self-funded company and often, they would dip into their meager savings, credit cards, borrowings and what not, to keep it afloat. Two agonizing years of ups and downs, what with mortgages of their homes, notices from creditors and stuff like that which threatened to take the wind off their sails. Unsure if they would sustain for even 15 days. "These are some of the challenges of building a company," says Jagadeesh recollecting those tough times. Determined to succeed, they held together.
And then one day, lady luck came in the form of a highly respectable gent who goes by the name of Kanwal Rekhi. He instantly recognized the talent and vision of this duo and promptly wrote out a cheque for $200,000, which was so very crucial for their survival. Besides money, Kanwal Rekhi gave them other VC contacts and soon enough, Exodus had money flowing in copiously. "Breaking the ice is the toughest part. Once this happens, others follow," says Jagadeesh. He calls it the "herd mentality". Like a herd of sheep, if one takes a particular path, others will follow. "VC mentality is pretty much like that," he adds.
The last 2-3 years has seen India as a major player in IT and Indians have developed products that created thousands of jobs in the US, besides creating wealth for them. Jagadeesh feels that unless the government takes on the role of a facilitator rather than a regulator the pace of technological development in India would slow down. "When volumes increase, prices should actually go down. Unlike in the US or any other capitalist society, in India the more you use, the more you pay." Citing the example of telephone call charges, it surprises him to note that beyond a certain slab, phone calls cost more. "That's not the norm elsewhere and the regulators don't seem to understand the concept," he adds.
Jagadeesh has allegiance to his home state of Karnataka and his deep-rooted conviction to help improve primary education in corporation schools resulted in his donating a million dollars. We all know how pathetic the system of education is and some schools operate out of buildings that would classify as ruins of a bygone era. "The first thing we did is not to hand over the money to the government," he says, emphasizing the point. Nothing could have been more sensible. Instead they created a trust, got the best brains from the field of education together and embarked themselves on the mission to give state-level education an impetus. A plan is in place to help the poorest of the poor schools.
Will the bells toll in the near future? He agrees that one rotten apple is enough to set the clock back. The government should refrain from sending wrong signals. That's precisely the kind of negative attitude that will pull back enthusiasm amongst entrepreneurs who want to help the country move forward. However, the bold measures initiated by Karnataka Chief Minister, S.M. Krishna to clean up Bangalore require "lot of guts especially when there is so much opposition. Thanks to S.M. Krishna, at least there is hope."
Success and wealth hasn't reached that sound head firmly perched on the shoulders of his over six-foot frame. He lives in the heart of California's Silicon Valley and yet, there's nothing flashy about him. He's extraordinarily simple. Nowadays, he dons the role of an angel investor funding start-ups. Who better than Jagadeesh to know what struggle means?
One sentence of his was still ringing in our ears as we left his home. "I've created wealth for myself, my family, created jobs for thousands and now I'm looking at how can I help my country?" This is not Gandhi-cap type patriotism. This is the genuine variety.