[Also check out my Entrepreneur Journeys book, Seed India – How To Navigate The Seed Capital Gap in India]
InMobi is probably going to be the first billion dollar global technology company built out of India. Read their thrilling entrepreneurial journey.
Sramana: Amit, let’s go back to the very beginning of your personal story. Where are you from and what kind of circumstances were you raised in?
Amit Gupta: I was brought up in Kanpur which is a city in northern India. My family has been in business for many generations. I had the opportunity to step outside of the family business. That shaped my decisions for schooling as well as the companies that I could work in after my schooling was completed.
I was lucky enough to get admission into IIT Kanpur. I received a bachelors in Mechanical Engineering. I never pursued a job in engineering but I do think some of the disciplined manner of thinking that I learned from those studies has helped me throughout life.
After college, I joined a software engineering company in Bangalore. There was a big IT boom in 2000, which was when I graduated and I wanted to be a part of that. I worked as a software engineer for a couple of years before I realized that while I appreciated software engineering, I did not really enjoy it. Around that time, I had the opportunity to work as a manager at Citifinancial India.
By that time, I realized that my career goal had shifted. I no longer wanted to be a software engineer. Instead, I wanted to help businesses implement business IT systems. About a year after I joined Citi, I had the opportunity to join a startup in Bangalore called Andale.
Sramana: What did Andale do?
Amit Gupta: Andale worked on auction management solutions. It had a SaaS platform for buyers and sellers on the eBay platform. In those days eBay was a really big deal. We had a hosted platform with about 50,000 paying customers. It was a fairly unique opportunity in India. I had the opportunity to learn the concept of a marketplace. I learned that it was possible to extract a thousand dollars from thousands of customers while hosting the software in the cloud. That whole experience was incredibly influential in shaping the way I think. I saw how things evolve at scale.
Sramana: What did you do after Andale?
Amit Gupta: I started a company in the business intelligence space. I ran that company for about a year. During this time, my co-founder at InMobi, Naveen Tewari, was working for a startup in the US. While I was running my new company Analyticsworks, I heard that Naveen was looking to come back to India. He started asking me about the startup scene in Bangalore and we started sharing some ideas.
Sramana: What year was this?
Amit Gupta: This was in 2006.