Manish Sharma is the co-founder and CEO of Printo, a Bangalore, India-based company specializing in high quality printing. Manish is a serial entrepreneur who began his career in 1995 as an early member of the startup team at Rediff.com. He went on to be the co-founder of DBS Internet Services, co-founder at New Economy Venture Group, and Global Director of Solutions for Pipal Software. He co-founded Printo in April of 2005. He is a graduate of the University of Oxford and Bombay University.
Sramana: Manish, let’s start with the beginning of your story. Where are you from? What is the backdrop to your entrepreneurial career?
Manish Sharma: I am from Bombay. I went to school there and was raised in a typical middle class family. My father is an engineer. I am a first generation entrepreneur. My father does not have business in his lineage. His father and grandfather were both engineers.
Sramana: Did you end up studying engineering?
Manish Sharma: I studied software engineering at the Bombay University. I then had to decide whether to pursue a masters degree or find my first job. I decided not to do a masters because everybody else was doing that and I wanted to do something different. I had a hard time trying to find a job that I liked. The jobs that I liked did not like me back. The jobs that liked me were not ones that I really liked. I then found an ad in the classifieds for a job that sounded interesting. It turned out to be for a new startup called Rediff.com.
I joined them as part of the startup team in 1995. I was the fifth employee there. We had a lot of fun setting up that company. Nobody knew anything about the Internet. I soon realized that my passion was in the startup world and wanted to do something on my own. I started a web solutions firm that did a bunch of design and media websites. We focused primarily on transaction systems. We built web-based systems for national exchanges and other premier clients. We were in the right place at the right time and were able to build a good company there.
Sramana: How long did you stay at Rediff?
Manish Sharma: I was there for nine months.
Sramana: So you started your design company in 1995 as well?
Manish Sharma: It may have been early 1996, but yes the two jobs were very close together.
Sramana: Were your web design clients Indian clients?
Manish Sharma: Yes. We only focused on clients in India. We did some work for the Indian Stock Exchange and other high profile clients.