Mahankali Srinivas Rao (MSR), CEO, T-Hub

Mahankali Srinivas Rao (MSR), CEO, T-Hub

  • Mahankali Srinivas Rao is a very senior and accomplished professional from Hyderabad, India.

 

Podcast

Overview

Entrepreneurial spirit has taken the world by storm. For every problem, there are multiple small ventures working towards a solution. But not all of these startups can coexist so founders need to be careful as to what path they should choose. Hence, there is a great need for guidance and hand holding that these new entrepreneurs need in the beginning of their journey.

Mahankali Srinivas Rao is a very senior and accomplished professional from Hyderabad, India. MSR is the CEO of T Hub. Today he talks about his entrepreneurship journey over the years. He also talks about the qualities an entrepreneur needs and the mistakes to avoid. He talks about T Hub and how it is helping Entrepreneurs across the globe achieve their goals.

00:00- About Mahankali Srinivas Rao

  • Mahankali Srinivas Rao is a very senior and accomplished professional from Hyderabad, India.
  • MSR is the CEO of T Hub.
  • He has been a serial entrepreneur for over three decades in the IT industry.
  • He first started a company in 2008 that was acquired by IBM.
  • Later he built one of the top two independent cybersecurity services and platform companies out of India.

00:40- Journey over the years

  • I’ve had a very interesting journey and there’s been a lot of luck involved. Some things have happened by design, and some things have happened by chance.
  • I worked for 12 years for companies, which today you would call start-ups. My first job was with a company called Sonata, a mid-sized software company. Then worked with Computer Vision Labs. And then after that with a company called Microline.
  • I helped a friend in making a business plan for his company and later joined him for some stake in the company. We scaled NetSol to being one of India’s top three network and systems integration companies. And then IBM acquired us.
  • In 2008, IDG Ventures gave us $3 million to start a cybersecurity business. We first set up in India, and then slowly expand it to the Middle East and the US over the next 11 years, and then in 2019, that business got acquired by the National Stock Exchange.
  • Then joined a social impact entity, called GAME: Global Alliance for Mass Entrepreneurship, which focused on trying to solve challenges for micro small medium enterprises.

11:18- What can be done to increase the presence of IT companies on a global basis?

  • The first wave of companies, which got built, were essentially large service companies and were scalable.
  • Now we are starting to see valuable companies getting created in the SAAS space, where typically the sales and marketing front ends are in other markets, and the whole development piece is done out of one place.
  • We have 73,000 plus registered startups and probably a similar number unregistered. For every problem out there, you will probably find maybe three, four, or five people trying to create solutions.
  • We’ve been able to demonstrate we can innovate and build models frugally. UPI is a prime example.

14:46- What is T-Hub?

  • Telangana is the youngest state in the union, it was formed back in 2014. Leaders at this point were mulling over what we need to do to put Telangana on the world map as far as innovation and entrepreneurship are concerned. Hence, T-Hub was born.
  • It’s a public-private partnership where academic institutions, like ISB and NALSAR, come together, along with the state government, to promote innovation and drive and foster entrepreneurship.
  • We act as incubators and have supported close to 1100 plus entrepreneurs. We help analyze the market size, technical feasibility, competitive analysis, etc and for companies that already exist, we help to scale and find the right product fit, etc.
  • We’ve got a framework called the six M’s, which include, access to markets, access to money or capital, mentors, talent and manpower, motivation and mindset, and methodologies

19:13- Geographic scope of T-Hub

  • The ecosystem for entrepreneurship has several stakeholders, entrepreneurs at the center, then corporates who have actually built-in scale, then you need government. The fourth is academia and the fifth is media, to highlight. And then you need industry associations. And most importantly, you need a funding ecosystem, banks, venture capital, private equity, all of those together.
  • Many of our programs, which we do for corporates, have start-ups from not only across India but from across the globe.
  • Thanks to COVID, the acceleration to digitizing and our move to a digital format, have just been further accentuated.

21:07- Qualities and mistakes of start-up founders

  • Firstly, you need to have a great idea. The idea has to be either something that is incremental from an innovation standpoint or something disruptive.
  • You also require passion, commitment, energy, resilience, and collaboration. To some extent, you might even link the four Cs to it. You need to be able to think creatively, you need to be able to communicate. And obviously, you need to be able to collaborate well.
  • As for mistakes, one is that many ideas sometimes are not well researched or well-thought-out. Why would somebody want to look at your newly established search engine when you have Googled already in place?
  • Some start-ups focus on features instead of a plan to build scale, make money, understand the landscape from a competitive perspective, and have a team together to execute, etc.

25:15- Three lessons

  • So, the first thing is, whatever you do, give it your all. So never do anything half-heartedly, irrespective of whether you’re an entrepreneur or working for somebody else, and try to be the best that you can be. All of us have a lot of potential within us, and we should figure out how to leverage that potential.
  • The second is, to do everything with integrity. Always keeping stakeholder interest first. At the end of the day, what counts is, have you gone about whatever you’re doing with purpose and with a sense of integrity?

RESOURCES:

You can connect with Mahankali Srinivas Rao- LinkedIn

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Profile

  • MSR is the CEO of T-Hub. It’s a public-private partnership with an intent to promote innovation and drive and foster entrepreneurship.
  • He has been a serial entrepreneur for over three decades in the IT industry.
  • He co-founded a company that IBM later acquired, and he also built one of the top two independent cybersecurity services and platform companies out of India.

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