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BV Jagadeesh a "shaper"
When I asked BV Sir, "Who is BV Jagadeesh?", he said, "I am a dreamer, I am a realist, hardworking and here to make a difference". Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates, calls this breed of charismatic people as "Shapers", people who can turn their dream or vision into a reality, but how?
Not only by being dreamers but also being quick learning realists, who can zoom out into the big picture of things; get into a lot of detail when required and most importantly hard working, and genuinely caring about their team and team members. Without doubt alongside Bill Gates, Marc Benioff, Elon Musk, I would like to add another name: BV Jagadeesh.
In silicon valley and most parts of India, this name needs no introduction. After his mega-success as a serial entrepreneur ( at Exodus Communications he successfully helped the company grow from start-up, instrumental in leading its highly successful initial public offering (IPO), served as President and CEO, NetScaler), and an angel investor, BV has now turned to social impact and supporting over half a dozen causes in education, food, affordable healthcare and more. He has successfully invested and guided companies such as Nutanix (IPO), Yodlee (IPO), Arkin (acqd: VMWare), Elastic Box (acqd: Century Link), NetMagic Solutions (acqd: NTT), Ocarina Networks (acqd: Dell) and Ankeena (acqd: Juniper) to name a few.

His advice to entrepreneurs before giving up on their startup is to give it their 200%, try to engage fully with prospective customers, reposition products to achieve product-market fit, etc. To him, entrepreneurship is more about risk mitigation and planning than risk-taking. When leaders walk the talk, leadership is impactful and well-received!

After a high emphasis on a people-centric approach to innovation and entrepreneurship, I could, at multiple instances, see him genuinely care about his team and inspire them to push themselves to the next level. He has in the past himself spent several months matching values with his co-founders to find out if they would get along; how many of us spend time evaluating our co-founders once we have found that magic idea? and found our calling!

Should you or should you not keep your day job when you approach a venture capitalist, and why is it that venture capitalists ask for market scale when they fund your company? in his podcast, he covers all this and more..

Childhood and upbringing
Link to podcast.
In the podcast, he talks about his tough upbringing, where, as a 10-year-old in eighth grade, he was living by himself with his brothers, and away from his humble abode, a village called Bagaluru which back then had no higher education centers. As he moved to Bengaluru while growing up, in his own small ecosystem, he was unknowingly shaping himself up for the big challenges in innovation to come. At ten years of age, he was already doing daily drills in negotiation, learning to save money, staying calm and humble during simple transactions and be well informed about market pricing as part of managing his small budget. This exercise as a child, in learning to survive independently in a big city like Bengaluru, took him very far in his future as he experienced the ebbs and flows of the series of his massive entrepreneurial, investment and non-profit ventures.

Writing about his contributions will take me several blogs dedicated each, to his role as a founder, investor, mentor and advisor to startups, his philanthropic initiatives as an overseas investor, his work in catalyzing scientific research and education, in feeding and educating the underprivileged, his eclectic interests spanning art, philosophy, entertainment, media and more. However, I decided to stay focused on entrepreneurship and get a sense of BV as a startup coach and advisor. This led me to one of his latest ventures, the FalconX incubator-accelerator which he has co-founded, and co-advises alongside eight other competent silicon valley entrepreneurs who have witnessed successful exits and explored cross-border B2B startup space extensively.

BV Jagadeesh and nine co-founders come together to start a B2B incubator-accelerator
I was escorted at the FalconX facility by one of the co-founders, the very charismatic Murali Chirala (video footage below) and here is what he had to say about the next generation, cross-border B2B startups housed in a very inclusive, multicultural and high technology space covering governance, enterprise software, and many more.
I also ran into one of the startup founders, ex-Googler, Varun Talwar from Tetrate (in the microservices space) who fondly remembered how BV, during their first meeting, looked straight in his eyes and said if he is willing to last in this startup journey, he would invest in him. That is the kind of person BV is, he believes in people and invests in them and nurtures wholeheartedly.

BV and his close counterpart Raju Reddy foresaw quite early on that the next big billion-dollar startup would emerge from outside the silicon valley and called them billion-dollar babies. BV along with Raju Reddy, another senior silicon valley investor-mentor-entrepreneur, decided to float FalconX, a cross border incubator-accelerator for B2B startups to develop the billion-dollar babies' inspired ecosystem for founders here.

I was fortunate enough to attend an informative panel at the facility, moderated by Raju Reddy, also one of the co-founders of FalconX, and an industry veteran. Here are a few ideas which were discussed:

  1. How to build a strong and lasting founding team? How to hire the right people and motivate employees to stick it in in small startups and large corporations: answers included creating a culture of trust (Amit Gupta), make your organization and every employee meaning and mission-driven (Swati Bhatia) and create an environment where there is transparency about culture, not overworking employees (Amit) with good prioritization from leadership, decision making and external influences (Oded Hermoni)(especially when founders live in different countries, their laws, policy framework, and living expenses may vary). A CEO should also be open to learn and grow as the organization grows says Amit, also endorsed by Raju Reddy. Swati Bhatia added that she has fine-tuned her decision making and shared her framework on risk-reversibility-impact: when and how to make quick decisions, when to delay them and when to say yes to radical experimentation.
  2. On pivoting to achieve the right product-market fit: it has to be a thoughtful decision achieved with right due diligence tools (need not be many), if you have a good team you can survive any pivot — a good board is also critical and helpful here says Amit and Oden agrees. Sometimes board members do not support too many pivots, but they can be very helpful. A great insight that FalconX lives by and Raju Reddy mentions that supporting founders in every way during pivot is what he highly recommends.
  3. How to scale effectively from a small startup to a large organization? Swati mentions that customer obsession is the sure-shot way to achieve scale, when she moved across CapitalOne, PayPal and Stripe. Her customers were startups, consumers, and a varied range of sample space. It is important for startup founders who are changing the world, with the increasing pace of change of growth and scale, considering that any person in any corner of the world with a laptop can be a disruptor, makes it even more important for your customer to be at the center of your design and work, to achieve scale.
  4. How to recognize if your company is going to be a unicorn or not? It is very hard to tell that anything can go wrong, the timing of your product launch makes a big difference says Amit. Launch of iPhone made a big difference to the successful scale and exit fo his second startup with Jasper with Cisco. He also talked about partnerships that can turbocharge your growth and make sense during the various phases of your company's scaling. The idea is to build strong sustainable solutions that are backed by a tough team that can survive ups and downs and is productive all along. Swati added saying that when your organization scales to become big you are focusing not on one product or customer, but in being open to new experiences, catalyzing a phenomenon of sorts.
  5. Learnings from the Israeli startup ecosystem and why people come to Silicon Valley? Valley is a hub for investors, but may not be the best place to do all kinds of startups says Oded Hermoni. Early-stage investors in your homeland could probably get to the right investors in silicon valley, California early on. Cross border startups with one founder in silicon valley, may overcome the limitation of wasting one round of funding without gauging what silicon valley investors are looking for.
  6. What can women do to find a larger acceptance from VC funding? Women to focus more on preparation and to get buy-in from team members who can achieve favorable VC acceptance (Swati Bhatia), also Oded Hermoni mentioned that his VC firm has 18% women onboard (silicon valley slowly changing its chauvinistic attitude) and that women should try to be as realistic and as open to feedback not bringing gender bias into presentation feedback. FalconX incentivizes women entrepreneurs to work at their facility. Lochan Alagh, Director of Ops. at FalconX recommended female founders to be persistent in asking help and quotes an example of a current female founder at FalconX who is very persistent. She recommended The Launchpad: Inside Y Combinator as a reference book for all female founders so they can hone their skills.
Building and Managing Successful B2B Company- Concept to Exit — monthly panel discussion at Falcon X
My time and interaction with FalconX was truly enlightening and I can only imagine how well nurtured the 46 cross-border startups housed here are, and also receiving competent advice from the senior executive team at FalconX. There were lots of discussions post-panel where founders were interacting with the panelists and mentors from FalconX seeking advice on how to manage their funding, and plan roadmap for their startup or team, and more. I was happy to see many enthusiastic women innovators as well. Check out more about what are the pre-requisites (e.g., you must have raised pre-seed funding 0.5 million dollars, even sweat capital wot $0.5 mil. is considered okay) to become part of the FalconX ecosystem in the video footage below showcasing Murali Chirala, CEO-FalconX.
BV Jagadeesh is not only catalyzing meaningful entrepreneurship with his initiatives in social entrepreneurship hitting core issues in policy for startups, but also in education, healthcare, and betterment of the emerging market entrepreneurs and the innovation ecosystem as a whole. It was indeed a pleasure and honor to interact with him and his enterprising team. Here is the link to Podcast covering BV Jagadeesh's interview.
I would like to thank the FalconX team Murali, Lochan, Sailaja and Raju for supporting me in putting together parts of this blog, video and podcast series.
Vida Patil
Author-Speaker, Coach,
Innovation Specialist,
Podcaster, Blogger