By Ragoo Raghunathan
As a part of this series, this week we introduce you to a local entrepreneur. Dr. Venkat Kolluri is a Shrewsbury resident and has been a member and well-wisher of the ISW community for many years. I recently got the opportunity to interview him about his entrepreneurial journey and experience.
When and how did you figure out you wanted to start a company?
In 2002, I was working as a technologist at Lycos.com. When everyone panicked during the internet 1.0 bubble burst and left the dot coms, I saw the true long-term potential of the web as a powerful matching engine connecting advertisers and online consumers. I quit my full-time job at Lycos and started an ad tech company, along with another colleague, Alden Dorosario, kick starting a journey that led to the creation of one of the largest contextual ad networks, Chitika.
What drives you to keep going and starting up new companies?
Being a tech geek at the core, I tend to gravitate towards the intersection of data and technology, especially when it gives me the opportunity to solve real world problems. The world of online web advertising attracted me when I noticed that it can be significantly improved using technology and data to match advertisers and online consumers. Similarly, with the advent of mobile phones, using mobile GPS tech to present users with location specific relevant offers from local advertisers turned out to be another opportunity that attracted me, leading to the creation of a mobile marketing company, Cidewalk.com.
How do you define ‘success’?
Taking an idea from inception to creation to launch and getting users to like it and use it. Seeing your idea in action in the real world, making an impact and getting positive feedback from customers, is simply priceless!
Do you think there are certain core values that companies should instill in their teammates? If yes, what are they?
An irresistible passion for problem solving. In business, as in life, day in and out you get hit with unexpected challenges. You have two choices: either look at those challenges and simply get frustrated or tackle those problems as if they are interesting puzzles to be solved. The first approach will quickly wear you down. The second approach will tend to make the journey very exciting and successful.
What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur?
YES you can do it, IF you truly believe in it AND if you are willing to go all in.
Also, don't hesitate to ask for and take help. We are all surrounded by people who are ready to help when needed. You just need to be true to your vision and ask for help when needed.
What is your perception of the impact of small businesses to the local community?
Small businesses are the pulse of the local ecosystem. If we can nurture and support local businesses, it will lead to a healthy ecosystem we all can benefit from. Along with a group of like minded entrepreneurs, we started Krosslink.org to help nurture the entrepreneurial spirit within local communities, using local public libraries as the launching pad.
What are some of your hobbies and what do you do in your free time?Being the crazy wacky husband to my better half, and the goofy dad to my two kids.