many Bootstrapping Using Services case studies with you here, as well as in
the book on that topic. Inspyrus CEO Nilay Banker’s story is particularly interesting because of the absolutely
awesome business model that Nilay and his team have implemented. Read on!
Sramana Mitra: Let’s go to the beginning of your personal
journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of
Nilay Banker: I’m from India, born and brought up in
Ahmedabad, which used to be a sleepy town when I was born and growing up. It
has now blossomed into a sprawling metro. It’s one of the five largest cities
in India. I had a very interesting childhood. I grew up in a family of
professionals. My father is an architect. My mother is a doctor. Pretty much,
every person in my family is a professional with very few people who are not
doctors. I consider myself a black sheep in the family.
When I was
growing up, I wanted to be a doctor as well until one fine day when I got my
hands on a computer and started making computer games. That’s when I fell in
love with computer science. Within two days, my life changed. I no longer
wanted to be a doctor. I was very fortunate to get the right opportunities at
the right time in my school years and in my career.
Mitra: Did you do your undergraduate in India?
Nilay Banker: Yes, I did my undergraduate in India. I
had an opportunity to get my Master’s in Computer Science at Stanford. That is
what brought me to the US. I had a fantastic couple of years at Stanford. I’m
still very connected as an alumnus. A lot of my colleagues have gone on to do
great things in Silicon Valley and elsewhere.
Sramana Mitra: You did Computer Science at Stanford?
Nilay Banker: Yes.
Sramana Mitra: What years were you at Stanford?
Nilay Banker: I graduated in 1994 so I was there from
1992 to 1994.
Sramana Mitra: What happened after you graduated? This is the
beginning of the commercial Internet. My career in Silicon Valley also started
around that time. What did you do right after Stanford?
Nilay Banker: Exactly. That was the days of the first
browser. This was even before Netscape was born.
Sramana Mitra: Mosaic, yes.
Nilay Banker: Yes. It’s very interesting how the email
generation and the Internet generation was born at that time. Interestingly
enough, I remember the days of Compuserv and AOL where we connect to those
Internet services through modems with a telephone line. I remember doing all my
reservations for vacations through Compuserv. Where we are today is just
fantastic. That’s where the journey began.
job was with Oracle in California. I got an opportunity to do some significant
things in a really small group in Oracle. In those days, Oracle was a much
smaller company. I believe it had less than 5,000 people. Now it has
over 120,000 people. I got to see the growth at Oracle as well. More
importantly, I worked in a very small group which worked and developed things
like a startup – the feel of what a startup is, how you stay up for 16 hours a
day, then developing a product, and getting millions of dollars of revenue.
days, there was no product. There was no direction. We just came up with ideas
on the fly. What started off as just a skunkworks project ended up being a very
successful product at Oracle. It was part of the application server group. That
has now become their web center portal product, which has a lot of success in
the market. I remember the days when the team grew from three people to 120
people. That was just a fantastic experience for me.