Meet a Member: Neeraj Chandra
This feature series on the members of TiE Boston shares their contributions to growing the innovation economy and to the mission of TiE. This week, we spoke with Neeraj Chandra, Founder, and CEO of Arkit Consultants and TiE Boston Board Member, about his journey and what led him to the organization.
Can you tell me about your early life and how you got to Boston?
I was born, raised and went to school in Northern India. After I received my B.Com (Hons) degree from Sri Ram College of Commerce and LL.B degree from Delhi University I qualified for Tata Administrative Service (TAS) and joined Tata Burroughs Ltd. After working with them for a few years, I was asked to relocate to Paris as the marketing manager for the European and African region. I opened two additional marketing offices in France and Germany to grow our business. After I returned to India, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to develop two major new businesses for Tata Burroughs; one with Computervision in the CAD/CAM market and the other with Microsoft in the PC software market. Unfortunately soon thereafter, I had to move to London due to a family medical emergency. As a result, I left my position at Tata Burroughs Ltd. and joined Prime Computers Ltd, in England.
After some time, Prime Computers UK asked that I move to the Corporate Headquarters in Boston. My directive was to implement the turnaround growth strategy I had developed for the UK and later the Northern Europe region, on a global scale. After playing a key part in the successful debut of Prime Computers under the name of Computervision as a publicly listed company, I was sponsored to attend the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School. After HBS, I joined a venture-backed start-up I-Logix and helped grow their revenues 6X during my tenure. At this point, a Swedish company Telelogic A.B. acquired us for a significant all-cash deal that made our investors and employees very happy. The CEO of Telelogic A.B. reached out and asked that I stay back, post-acquisition, and help grow their company. I agreed and stayed with Telelogic A.B. for another two years until IBM acquired it for $750m. So I had the good fortune of two exits in four years. I then had a very rewarding and enjoyable stay with IBM for 6+ years as Vice President for WorldWide Strategy-Rational in the Software Group. With a desire to re-invent myself, I returned to the exciting world of StartUps where I could leverage my skills, experience, and IP. I left IBM to start my own company and thus the birth of Arkit Consultants. We are a business and strategy consulting entity enabling our clients to accelerate revenue and organizational growth. Most of our clients are early-stage companies in Cloud/SaaS, Internet Of Things (IoT), Analytics and Blockchain domains.
Tell us more about the start of Arkit Consulting?
I had the idea for Arkit well before I worked at IBM. As a result of IBM’s intellectual property laws, I had to stop all work on my previous plan. After I left IBM, I was free to work on Arkit. Luckily I had kept in contact with all of the CEOs from my previous consulting and mentoring roles and was able to find a client before I even registered Arkit. Having the connections made the process much easier, but still, it was a lot of hard work.
How did you find TiE Boston and what prompted you to become a charter member?
I was aware of TiE Boston when I was working at IBM and was introduced to TiE by then President, Gaugarin Oliver. I became a charter member at that time but was not able to be as active in the community as I would have liked. After I left IBM, I knew that I wanted to become much more involved in the startup community. I joined TiE Angels and later was invited to work with the TiE ScaleUp program, which at the time was just launching its first cohort. I was very touched and grateful for the warm welcome and encouragement I received from the TIE community.
I subsequently joined as a Board Member of TiE Boston and have been the Chair of the TiE ScaleUp Program for the last two years. My close involvement with TiE’s multiple endeavors has shown me the unique aspects of our multifaceted community. While at TiE, I have been met with very high caliber and successful people, very innovative businesses, an openness to new ideas, strong collaborative spirit, and lack of politics. This organization has been nothing but a beautiful experience where I have had the opportunity to grow, contribute and find sincere friends.
What’s next in your career?
Over the next few years, I want to focus heavily on helping other entrepreneurs because I believe that it will create a flywheel with a multiplier effect. I am doing so through my Consulting, Advisory, and Angel investing activities. I usually invest in companies where I can take an active role. Which allows me to make sure that the company will benefit from my skills, experience, and network, with the end goal of accelerated growth. From a future perspective, I am very interested in Blockchain technology and how it can potentially change the world. I would like to get more deeply involved with startups in this sector. I am currently an advisor for two Blockchain companies.
Outside of the business aspect, I want to continue my deep involvement with Ekal, which is a non-profit organization in India with a unique delivery model, at scale, that helps underprivileged children in remote and tribal villages get educated.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs that are just getting started?
I have three personal perspectives to share:
Firstly, not all money is money; if you are looking for investment don’t jump at the first opportunity without qualifying your investor. You have to choose your investors wisely. If the investors are not aligned with you and your vision then it can have negative consequences including losing your company. Remember you can remove anyone in your company but you can’t fire your investors.
Secondly, just because you can do everything doesn’t mean you should. You must focus on doing only those things that you cannot find someone else to do. Your primary job is to develop a high-performance team or your growth and success will be compromised. You and your company will grow when you let go.
Thirdly, write down, nurture and constantly communicate the cultural values you want for your company. In the long run, the culture of your company will be the driver of your success and a sustainable competitive advantage.
Why should someone join TiE Boston?
People should become involved with TiE for a number of reasons. It provides a great network of talent and resources whether you are an aspiring, first time or serial entrepreneur. For students and those interested in starting or running a business it a great community environment to learn and grow from very successful entrepreneurs and subject matter experts. For more experienced entrepreneurs it is a great place to make new connections with like-minded and very smart individuals. Moreover, it is an opportunity to grow your business while also having a ton of fun. TiE also provides a very rich environment to give back to the community via mentorship, sponsorship, working with a myriad of existing programs or even starting a new one! Continually, TiE provides something of value for everyone. Personally, my favorite aspect is the helpful attitude and a refreshing lack of ego that I have experienced in my time with TiE. Everyone in this community is engaging and willing to help you. I strongly believe that the sentiment within this community is that if one person is succeeding then we all are. I don’t think I can name another community that has been so mutually beneficial.
Thank you to Neeraj Chandra for sharing his story and to Hugh Rossi for capturing it. To learn more about TiE Boston and how to get involved, check out boston.tie.org or reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.