Managing Partner, Asia
- Ola Electric
You've worked in some pretty diverse places. How has that shaped your career?
I've lived in London, Hong Kong, and Mumbai at different times in my career. I think that has made it easier for me to see all of those regions as both an insider and an outsider. Technology has made geographic barriers meaningless, but cultural differences are still very real. As a result, every new company will have a steep learning curve as it navigates unfamiliar business climates and cultures. I can empathize with that, and I can offer guidance that's grounded in my own experience.
Your work is currently focused on India. How would you describe the opportunity there?
The opportunity is massive. India is an emerging market that has jumped over several generations of infrastructure. We went from having huge percentages of people without bank accounts or landlines to near-universal cell phone and data access. We're a country of a billion people, with about two-thirds of the population under the age of 35, more than 300 million smartphones, and some of the cheapest data in the world. Put those puzzle pieces together and you get a really fascinating picture.
The Indian entrepreneurial spirit continues to grow stronger, and it is now being supported with capital.
So that's why India is such an exciting place for business?
That is one of the reasons. Over the next two decades, I believe that India will see a huge leap in quality of life and spending power as the GDP grows and socioeconomic indicators like education and healthcare improve. The Indian entrepreneurial spirit continues to grow stronger, and it is now being supported with capital. So when you combine technology, a young population with an entrepreneurial spirit, increasing prosperity, and capital, it most definitely makes it an exciting place for business.
What is your role when you work with founders, in India and elsewhere?
I think we bring a couple of critical things to the table. First, the knowledge of how to build a company and how to build technology. Second, our ecosystem. I really can't overstate the importance of just connecting founders to other founders—helping them discover people whose work dovetails with their own. And then there's our global expertise. We understand what it means to be part of this world economy, and I think that's essential for founders, who often know their own market extremely well but are less experienced in other contexts.
What has you the most excited right now?
The innovation—and the opportunity—in fintech is really incredible, but we’re also seeing huge movement in healthcare technology and education. So what does that mean for the people of India? Take fintech: Only about 30 million people in India currently have a credit card, and credit penetration in general is very limited. Fintech can connect small, very local businesses with the credit they need to get off the ground. That's a change that ripples out. The same thing is happening in healthcare and education. It's really an incredibly exciting thing to be a part of.