Sramana Mitra: That’s great. I’m actually working on a book on Unicorn Companies right now. I would love to include you in that. The definition of this Unicorn Company is billion-dollar exit. The truth is if you were to exit in the market today, you would be over a billion dollar in valuation easily.
Girish Navani: Easily. Maybe, multi-billion.
Sramana Mitra: It’s probably more like $3 billion plus valuation. You’ve probably seen my work in the last four years that we’ve launched One Million by One Million. Our philosophy is entrepreneurship equals customers, revenues, and profits. Financing and exit are optional. That’s a very simple and powerful change in the way entrepreneurship is viewed.
Girish Navani: I wish more would do it.
Sramana Mitra: Over 99% of the companies out there who seek financing actually get rejected. To have role models like you and, another of my favorite entrepreneurs who was following the same philosophy, Sridhar Vembu. I don’t know if you’ve met him?
Girish Navani: No.
Sramana Mitra: Sridhar Vembu is doing Zoho. Zoho is probably about close to $300 million in revenue. He has no desire to exit – 100% self-financed company and has no interest in exiting.
Girish Navani: I’d like to someday meet him.
Sramana Mitra: I’ll be happy to introduce you. It’s a different way of doing business. It’s a different way of thinking about business. You guys are building gigantic cloud companies that can stand on their own two feet.
Girish Navani: I think you’re right with cloud computing and business models that have recurring revenue. You don’t need to go public and you don’t need to exit. Exits are for professional careers. At 47, I have no desire to do that.
Sramana Mitra: That’s the other thing. I’m glad that you brought it up. I actually have nothing against venture capital. I’ve done venture-funded companies. This one, I’m not doing as a venture-funded company—at least not at this point.
I think it’s important to put more of your style of role models out there where you can build self-sustaining companies with customer money as opposed to investor money. I think it’s an important thought process that needs to come into the industry.
Girish Navani: You, at least, have a different decision making in this business. Profit margins are important but they’re not the primary. You need to run a profitable business but you tend to look at customers and employees in much different ways than you would if you were a stock market price.
Sramana Mitra: You also don’t look at growths the same way. You don’t have to grow at all cost all the time at the fastest pace.
Girish Navani: That’s true. We have got four business units right now–Big Data analytics, patient that we just talked about, revenue cycle management, and then obviously the core business of EHR. I do it because I like to do it, not because I have to do it.
Sramana Mitra: You are investing sizeable amounts of money in R&D.
Girish Navani: Big time.
Sramana Mitra: That is eating into your profit margins.
Girish Navani: That’s fine to me.
Sramana Mitra: I’ve only seen one public company making the case for not making profits and still convince shareholders to stay with them. That’s Amazon.
Girish Navani: Amazon.
Sramana Mitra: Most companies can’t get away with that but they do. These are very interesting differences in how you make decisions and how you build companies.
Girish Navani: It is no different than sky diving. It’s no different than taking adventures that when you watch them on GoPro camers, you’d go, “I can’t even watch it.” Wanting to stay private is no less adventurous than what I just discussed.
Sramana Mitra: I like it very much. The other thing that you said that, personally philosophy-wise, I’m also very much on that track is—I’m not interested in retiring. I love work. I love to do what I do. That’s my primary focus.
Girish Navani: You wouldn’t know what to do. I’d get bored. If I had to stop working for more than two weeks, I’d be in some form of withdrawal syndrome. Work is addictive.
Sramana Mitra: I think for people like us, work is how we add value to the world.
Girish Navani: True.