Great entrepreneurs continuously learn from the market. Ankit’s story is one of really diligent learning. Wonderful read!
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born and raised? What kind of background did you have?
Ankit Oberoi: My entrepreneur journey started when I was about 14 years old. This was back in 2004. I had no intentions of starting a business but I was just one of those geeky kids interested in learning how the internet works. I used to play a lot of games, especially simulation games and fighting games.
Sramana Mitra: Is this all happening in Delhi?
Ankit Oberoi: Yes, this is all happening in Delhi – in my very small bedroom. It was a struggle getting the internet connection from my dad. It was very costly back then. Using dial-up would keep your phone busy. It has its own set of complications in the family. I was just interested in learning how the internet and websites worked.
The first thing that I wanted to do was to set up a small website where I could sell stuff online. Back then, I was playing a game called The Sims. It still exists. It’s made by EA. I wanted to sell some skins that I had designed. It was difficult for me to set up a website.
Once I learned how to do it, I decided that I wasn’t going to sell skins in games anymore. I will just learn how to do web hosting. It wasn’t called the cloud in 2004. It was called web hosting. I ended up starting a small business.
I would buy servers from larger data centers and start selling hosting services. This was a one-man show. I was doing it after school. I was in tenth grade. I would come back from school and spend the rest of the day working late in the evening because some of my customers were in the US.
I’d get scolded by my dad multiple times because I was up too late. I did this for about three years. After that, I entered college. I was still a one-man show at this point. I was making some money. I just decided after entering college that I wanted to do something else.
Just around that time, one of my web servers got hacked. I got involved in looking at what triggered that and figuring out what the security breach was. In that process, I learned a lot about web security.
Sramana Mitra: You are really a geeky kid. You are very curious and geeky.
Ankit Oberoi: I was into technology. I just wanted to learn everything that I could. With the curiosity that I had, the next thing that I wanted to do after entering college was to set up an information security company. I decided to sell my business. I had about 130 customers in my web hosting solution. I started my new business which was an information security business called Panther.