Ashish Thusoo believed in the cloud long before most thought it would ever catch on. Now, his company Qubole is empowering other startups to scale and grow fast with self-service AI, machine learning and data analytics in the cloud.
Thusoo’s venture has raised almost $100 million and he’s enabling a new level of data processing and efficiency for their clients.
We caught up for an episode of the Dealmakers Podcast, where Ashish shared how he got started, why engineers make great startup founders and what he’s learned from working with some of the largest and fastest-growing companies in the world.
Using Technology To Build A Better Future
Ashish Thusoo was born and raised in Delhi, India, a city of nearly 20 million people in the heart of Northern India. His family was a part of India’s vast middle class, which drives a huge portion of the national economy.
Growing up, education was extremely important and highly valued, especially since there weren’t many opportunities. Ashish learned the importance of a quality education early on.
Both of Ashish’s parents were doctors, yet he chose a different path. He was much more excited about technology – the power it represented, and the possibility of what it could do for the future of mankind.
Ashish’s first computer was a BBC Micro, a relic from the era of floppy disks. From the moment he turned it on, Ashish connected with the machine. He started programming with BASIC, and became fascinated by what computers could do and the potential they promised.
By 12th grade, he was writing software for telephone call center applications as a part of school projects and had become a local prodigy.
Why Engineers Make the Best Entrepreneurs
I’ve interviewed many of the world’s top-performing founders, CEOs and fundraisers over the past couple of years, and I’ve noticed a pattern: a number of the best and brightest come from similar backgrounds – specifically, Indian-born engineers. What makes them so well suited to launch hyper-growth ventures?
From Ashish’s perspective, it comes down to philosophy – engineers are great at building things layer by layer, a critical element in sustainable growth. They are naturally talented and are trained to take on problems that seem too big to comprehend, let alone solve. They know how to break them down into small parts, solving one piece at a time, and put it all together to build a successful business.
Of course, technical skills alone aren’t sufficient to build a highly profitable business. In fact, placing too much emphasis on technology can be the demise of many hopeful entrepreneurs.
As Thusoo puts it, one of the most important qualities a founder can possess is a willingness to learn and an open mind.
As for the reason so many successful entrepreneurs are coming out of India, Ashish tells us that the environment naturally cultivates entrepreneurship.
India is booming today but has been traditionally restrained in resources, which creates a lot of competition in a country with a billion-plus people. The environment forces you to become self-taught, to be self-driven, to innovate and to become entrepreneurial.
Ashish also says it teaches you empathy for customers, partners, and employees, which are extremely valuable assets when building a business.
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