It's not about age but courage - Deepak Ravindran

Published on: 20th November 2013
We've heard and read stories of college drop-outs Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison and many others of the like, whose names boast of topping the chart of best entrepreneurs (who were college drops-outs). Much of these stories have been flowing from overseas into India. While many such stories are evolving in India too, here is a quick look at the inspiring story of a young boy and his pals from India who followed the path of the massive names mentioned above.
its not about age but courage,deepak ravindran
Deepak Ravindran is a 25 year old entrepreneur and the CEO of Innoz, a leading mobile technology company based in India. "Some years ago - never mind how long precisely... nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world." This (modified) opening quote from Melville's Moby Dick perfectly captures his state of mind when he ventured out as an entrepreneur to avoid the job-seeking rat race and pursue something new. Deepak's fascination with computers and internet had begun on a Pentium III & 56 kbps modem. While in high-school, as a 16 year old boy, he sourced and sold tech magazines & CDs to fund his pocket money, while other kids were busy saving Super Mario's girlfriend. He founded Swades Solutions, an offshore Web design/SEO firm in 2005. From the confidence that he gained from his first venture, he realized that chasing bigger dreams gives one more space to think. He never stopped experimenting nor was bothered about failing. He also launched an ecommerce/deal website '' in summer vacation during high-school and sold it to a friend by the time he got admission in a college.

Deepak joined Kannur University to study Computer science. In 2009, he dropped out of college and co-founded Innoz along with 3 other friends - Hisam, Ashwin and Abhinav. The reason to drop out of college in 2009, while in the final semester was to join the iAccelerator'09 program in which they had received the first external source of funding and were invited to join the incubator at Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship at IIM Ahmedabad. They had started a service SMSGYAN as their final year project. "GYAN means knowledge in Hindi & the service is known as SMSGYAN - Spreading Knowledge through innovation." SMSGYAN had raving success inside college campus which soon spread to other parts of the state and country. Realizing the low level of internet penetration in India these young chaps were motivated to build a cost effective platform on mobile for instant information. Everybody, irrespective of age, location or vocation, has questions to ask which could be simple or complex, and not everyone has access to internet to get all answers. SMSGYAN did the amazing job of delivering information from internet on to your handset without you needing to go online. As of today, the service has processed over 1 billion requests with over 120 million users.
When asked as to what kept him motivated Deepak says, "Never thought that I would become the person I'm right now, but I never stopped doing what I loved. And I continue to do so. My greatest achievement is building a company that has integrity and culture that I'm proud of. When we had dropped out of college to pursue our dreams, it was very difficult for us to convince our families, peers and faculty about our goal of being an entrepreneur, because every guy next door would prefer to opt for a well-paid job and soon get married." Now, here is a set of co-founders who became job creators instead of job seekers and went ahead to recruit 70% of staff from the same college. They believe that no one at the company ever misses college life because they consider themselves to be a group of friends doing business. Before dropping out of college, they had represented India in the finals of the DFJ-CISCO Global Business Plan Competition 2009 alongside the Georgia and Stanford teams as well.

Deepak believes that persistence is the key to success. Initially, the MNC telecoms were amused to see this young chap carrying a CEO card. After many rejections he and his friends cracked the first deal with Airtel, one of India's biggest telecom operators in a coffee shop. Very soon, all other major operators in India - Vodafone, Aircel, Idea, Loop Mobile, Tata Docomo etc. became keen to avail their service. Currently, Innoz is working with leading technology partners across the globe like Wikipedia, Zomato, Rotten Tomatoes, Wolfram Alpha, Snapdeal, Vuclip, Wordnik,, Bing, Worldweatheronline etc. Innoz was selected as the Red Herring Global 100 and Asia 100 winner for 2010 as well as Nasscom Top 8 Emerging Companies in India for 2010. This young team's work has appeared in Forbes, MIT, The Sydney morning Herald, Economic Times, Times of India, Bloomberg UTV, Business Standard and more than a hundred other magazines, newspapers and blogs. Deepak was among the MIT Technology Review outstanding innovators under 35 for the year 2011 and also an INK Fellow for 2011 in association with TED. He is also a fellow of the Startup Leadership Program (SLP), a world-class training initiative of TiE Boston for outstanding founders and innovators who are or want to be startup CEOs and YCE, an organisation that brings together digital entrepreneurs who deliver creative activities. Ranked among the top C Level Tweeters around the world alongside Richard Branson, Evan Williams, Guy Kawasaki, Tony Hsieh and others he has a strong social media presence on LinkedIn, Facebook & Quora too.
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