Pradeep Gupta is the Chairman of the CyberMedia Group, the specialty media house, with brands like Dataquest, PCQuest, Voice&Data, DARE, CIOL, Global Services, etc. He is an Engineer from IIT Delhi and an MBA from IIM Calcutta. Having joined a startup (HCL) at the beginning of his career, when people had hardly heard the word startup, he always had an entrepreneurial streak.
Today, he is a successful entrepreneur and has been conferred the “National Entrepreneurship Award as the Best Mentor” by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Government of India. He is also an angel investor and has mentored over 200 start-ups. He is the co-founder of Indian Angel Network, Asia’s largest angel network with more than 450 members that has done over 150 deals. Currently IAN invests in 30-40 deals each year.
Pradeep was a global trustee of TiE, the world’s largest entrepreneurial ecosystem with 12,000 members, including over 2,500 charter members in 60 chapters across 17 countries.
With so many achievements to his credit, he is the perfect person to have a conversation around entrepreneurship with.
On the evolution in consumption of data
Pradeep thinks that tremendous change has taken place in media and its consumption, especially in the last fifteen years. He points out that earlier in traditional media, the content would be prepared and distribution channels would have to be set up. This ensured that the product reached a particular community. With digital media however, consumers have a choice. This choice is also instantaneous and percolates down to reduced brand loyalty.
Even from the advertiser’s point of view, communication has changed. Where previously, there would be one ad running over 90 days, now there have to be a plethora of campaigns on digital media.
“It’s a very different way of communicating with communities. The form of content is also much shorter.”
On nurturing and investing in startups
CyberMedia is executing India’s first Electropreneur Park, an incubation centre for Electronics start-ups funded by the Government of India. Pradeep is the Chief Mentor of Electropreneur Park, Delhi & Bhubaneshwar.
Electropreneur park is a one of its kind incubation center set up to exclusively cater to the needs of startups in the electronics field. It provides the right facilities and ecosystem for their growth. There is a state of the art lab which requires huge investment that all startups may not be able to afford.
Pradeep was the GP of India’s first angel fund Infinity Ventures 15 years ago which had angel investments in companies like IndiaBulls and India Games, both of which were highly successful exits.
He entered the angel investing sector very early when VCs existed but only for the bigger investments. After visiting various TiE conferences in Silicon Valley, he decided that India needed something similar and was instrumental in bringing TiE to India.
“In the fund structure, there was always the pressure of time of returns. Angel investing requires regular inflow of money. And so we created Indian Angel Network.”
On receiving the Helen Keller Award
Pradeep is the recipient of the prestigious Helen Keller award for working in the disability sector. It was when a disabled person had trouble accessing his office that Pradeep was struck by the complacence of the industry towards the disabled. He also reviewed his company’s literature and found several examples of discrimination that he had not intended. Since then, he has been trying to create awareness about being inclusive of the disabled.
He created forums and bodies to sensitize the industry, events around awareness and also used his publications for the same.
“I think that a lot of the steps that the IT industry has taken towards the aid of the disabled have stemmed from this sensitization.”