Paroon has bootstrapped Passageways from Indiana and wants to help other Indiana entrepreneurs succeed.
Along the way, he has pivoted from licensed software to cloud software, and made other strategic decisions that helped his company become more successful.
Read on to learn more on his moves.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s go to the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Paroon Chadha: I was born in Chandigarh, India. I was born to a family of entrepreneurs. Growing up, the choices basically boiled down to being an engineer and then perhaps being an entrepreneur. I went to Punjab Engineering College and found myself a little bit at odds with technical internships that I did and felt like sales was my true calling. It was mostly influenced by some of my mentors in life. My dad ran businesses. It led me to join a sales job out of engineering. My first job was at Wipro. I sourced hardware and software solutions for two years in India. That’s how it started.
Sramana Mitra: Can you give us a little bit of a timeframe when you were working for Wipro?
Paroon Chadha: I worked there from 1997 to 1999. I was lucky to work at Wipro when Wipro was growing triple digits every year. I got to see that journey. It was a pretty unique time in India. It was pre-Y2K. That’s when the whole economy kicked into high gear. I was posted in Hyderabad. It was the bull’s eye of the storm, if you will.
There was so much going on there that you didn’t really need to be convinced that this is the right industry to be in. That is the basic context. I came to the US for my MBA. I came here and right away, 9/11 happened. I realized pretty quickly, while I was at business school, that there were a lot of unknowns that you can’t really factor in. It became clear to me that I may not even be graduating with a job.
I attended Purdue. That’s where I realized that at the end of the day, you are not going to be in control of what you can’t control. I was one of the few people who wrote an essay saying that I want to build a company. I started writing a business plan and won a business plan competition at Purdue.
Sramana Mitra: Is that what you went on to pursue?
Paroon Chadha: It’s exactly the same business plan. This is key for your audience. I don’t know if every business plan really becomes a business.