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Right for the Job

Right for the Job

Sanjeev Bikhchandani, CEO and co-founder of InfoEdge, says that IT can help his company with product innovation.

In boxing as in business, footwork is everything. And a back step means something big is coming.

When his entire industry came crashing down around him, Sanjeev Bikhchandani, took a step back, focused on the business and pulled Naukri through the dotcom bust. In the years that followed, he made Naukri a household name.

Now again, Bikhchandani is taking a step back. With the imminent launch of Shiksha (an education portal), he's taking the fight away from the frenzy of the online job space and is focusing upstream -- on tomorrow's job hunters.

Bikhchandani has proved that he can pull an idea out of the future and nurture it. And he's made his move. Watch out for the back step.

Why did you give up your day job to start something of your own?

I worked for GlaxoSmithKline before. I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, even when I was in business school. It was something I wanted to be, I did not know when exactly, but I knew I would be an entrepreneur. I made all my plans accordingly, including my career choices, my studies, my three-year job, and so on. It was very important for me to be my own man, doing my own thing.

Is entrepreneurship a growing trend among young technocrats?

Absolutely. I was a speaker at the TAAI (Travel Agents Association of India) summit last December. There were 1,600 attendees. It was one of the largest gatherings of entrepreneurs and of people interested in being entrepreneurs. The numbers are just growing. I think entrepreneurship is becoming a movement.

Another recent trend is the emergence of Indian investors. Until now VC firms raised money overseas and invested in Indian companies. Now wealthy Indians are investing both as angels and VCs. I expect this trend to gather momentum in 2008.

As a consequence of these changes, a new class of entrepreneurs has emerged in India: well-educated, first-generation and with experience in best-in-class companies. It is these entrepreneurs, and the companies they build, that will be one of the major engines of growth for the Indian economy in the decades to come. Today, almost every business school in India has an entrepreneurship cell and actively promotes it as a viable career option. Twenty years ago, entrepreneurship was a fringe movement at business schools. It is now mainstream. However, even as more business school graduates are likely to become entrepreneurs in 2008, it will be tough for most to get funding since investors value experience, domain expertise and a proven track record.

How did you envisage an online business even before the Internet came to India?

On a visit to IT Asia in 1996, I saw a stall with the letters WWW written on it. I wondered what it meant, and found out that it stood for Worldwide Web. That's how I came to know about the Internet. Although it's hard to imagine today, in those days there was no TCP/IP access. An agent gave me a demonstration on a black and white monitor, and I had my first peek at the Internet. I saw how e-mail worked. I looked at Yahoo.com. I realized that I finally had a medium on which my business could run. I decided I wanted a website -- especially after I came to know that there were 14,000 users in India. But I could not do this sitting in India, because all the servers were in the US. My brother, who lived there, helped me register my website and get a domain name. In March 1997, Naukri.com -- a division of InfoEdge -- was set up.

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