Life lessons from Kris Gopalakrishnan

The co-founder of Infosys Technologies and founder of Axilor Ventures opens up in an intensely personal conversation on the various stages of life

Charles Assisi
[Photograph courtesy Mint]

A few days ago, Kris Gopalakrishnan was transiting through Mumbai. Bring his name up, and everybody thinks “that Infosys man”. Yes, there is no taking away from the fact that he was part of the founding team at Infosys, led the company as CEO through some of its most turbulent times and continues to remain a large stakeholder. But he has moved on to other things as well.

The understated “Kris” as everybody calls him, has just completed work on itihaasa, a “multimedia work of love” that meticulously documents the history of the Indian IT industry. It is available to anybody as a free download. He spends a good amount of time at Axilor Ventures mentoring early stage startups. Then there are philanthropic activities he is interested in.

Much has been written and spoken around all these. That is why I thought I might try and steer clear of this ground. I wondered if it would be possible to try and ask the famously reticent Kris to share his learnings from the road on what I think has been a life well lived. Which is what I did, around four broad areas.

1. If the idea of turning entrepreneurial is playing on my mind, what is a good time? When do I take the so-called plunge?

2. What is it like to be an entrepreneur? What was it like for him? Is it lonely? What kind of a journey is it? What kind of pressures do you feel? How do you protect yourself?

3. Now that he’s been there, done that, what does he think of the future and where is he investing his personal monies?

4. What kinds of regrets does he have? What advice does he offer the younger ones getting into business? And is it really possible to be an idealist given the kind of landscape we live in today?

Virtuoso

Virtuoso features conversations with a cross-section of veteran entrepreneurs, business strategists and thought leaders from India and abroad

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About the author

Charles Assisi
Charles Assisi

Co-founder and Director

Founding Fuel

Charles Assisi is an award-winning journalist with two decades of experience to back him. He is currently co-founder and director at Founding Fuel. He writes a weekly column as well under the slug Life Hacks in Mint, India's most influential business newspaper. He is vocal in his views on journalism and what shape it ought to take in India. He speaks on the theme at various forums and is often invited by various organizations to teach their teams how to write.

In his last assignment, he wore two hats: That of Managing Editor at Forbes India and Editor at ForbesLife India. As part of the leadership team, his mandate was to create a distinctive business title in a market many thought was saturated. When Forbes India was finally launched after much brainstorming and thinking through, it broke through the ranks and got to be recognized as the most influential business magazine in the country. He did much the same thing with ForbesLife India where he broke from convention and launched the title to critical acclaim.

Before that, he was National Technology Editor and National Business Editor at the Times of India, during the great newspaper wars of 2005. He was part of the team that ensured Times of India maintained top dog status in Mumbai on the face of assaults by DNA and Hindustan Times.

His first big gig came in his late twenties when German media house Vogel Burda marked its India debut with CHIP a wildly popular technology magazine. He was appointed Editor and given a free run to create what he wanted. During this stint, he worked and interacted with all of Vogel Burda's various newsrooms across Europe and Asia.

Charles holds a Masters in Economics from Mumbai Universtity and an MBA in Finance. Along the way he earned the Madhu Valluri Award for Excellence in Journalism and the Polestar Award for Excellence in Business Journalism.

In his spare time, he reads voraciously across the board, but is biased towards psychology and the social sciences. He dabbles in various things that catch his fancy at various points. But as fancies go, many evaporate as often as they fall on him.

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