Rategain is one of the top global SaaS companies built out of India. This interview captures CEO Bhanu Chopra’s entrepreneurial journey.
Sramana: Bhanu, let’s start with the beginning of your story. What kind of circumstances where you raised in? What is the genesis of your entrepreneurial journey?
Bhanu Chopra: I am a Delhi boy, I was born and raised in a business family in Delhi. Right after I completed school, I went to the US for my undergraduate studies. I went to the Indiana University and have a double degree in finance and computer science. When I was growing up, I was very good with numbers. The advice that my father gave me was to get into something like finance. Computers are a derivation of mathematics. That is why I got interested in computers.
I was not sure which path I wanted to continue down for a career, whether it was investment banking or being involved in the tech industry. The test I put myself through was to go through the campus interviews. I applied for a bunch of jobs on both sides. I had a few offers in investment banking and I had an offer from almost every software consulting company I interviewed with. At that point, Deloitte was a big recruiter at Indiana University. They were a very well respected company so I started out my career with them in their Chicago office.
I started out doing SAP systems integration work. I had the opportunity to work with some very large firms and Fortune 500 companies. I was part of some very large and complex systems and integration projects where we were implementing SAP at these Fortune 500 companies. That gave me very good exposure early in my career.
Sramana: When was this going on? What years are we talking about?
Bhanu Chopra: I started with them in 1998. I worked with them for a couple of years. That was during the dot com boom. Everyone was clearing out of the larger firms and leaving to join a startup. I was in a similar situation. I had some exciting offers with companies and the stock options were worth millions of dollars. I decided to join a couple of my partners at Deloitte who were setting up their own company to implement CRM systems at the dot com companies. It was an exciting opportunity for me.
That gave me a very good flavor of how startups work. I had spent the first few years of my career working for a very large, structured firm. I was now in a completely unstructured environment where there was not a clear demarcated environment to tell me what I should or should not do. The first few months were chaotic but exciting. That gave me some very good exposure. Fortunately, when the dot com crash occurred, our company did not get in as much trouble because we were primarily B2B as opposed to B2C. However, I felt that given my background and entrepreneurial spirit, I would be better off starting my own company in Chicago.