Tell me about yourself.
I grew up in India and came to the U.S. to do my Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering in Upstate New York at Clarkson University. Post-graduation, I moved to the Boston area where I got my first job in Cambridge at TRW. After about four years at TRW and getting my green card, I moved to Hewlett-Packard. Eventually, I left HP to co-found InteQ with my friend Santhana Krishnan, which was the start of my entrepreneurial journey. After 15 years of ups and downs at InteQ, we sold the company to CA Technologies in 2010. Today, I own a venture services firm called Jeavio that I co-founded with my brother Uday Shah. Jeavio enables entrepreneurs to build next-generation products and provides them with services they may find difficult to afford, such as product management, design, and systems architecture.
How did you end up at TiE Boston?
I am a Charter Member of TiE Boston. My involvement goes back almost 22 years — since TiE Boston’s early days. Being at an active startup, I was looking to be inspired, for connections, and networking. TiE provides excellent opportunities to build a network, supports continuous learning, and is a great partner to have along the entrepreneurial journey. Over the years, I’ve had many roles with TiE. I have been on the board of TiE Boston two times, have been involved with TiE Angels & TiE ScaleUp, and have contributed to the early formation of TYE. I’m also on the board of the TiE Foundation. My company Jeavio sponsors TiE Scale Up and TiE Angels as well.
There is a lot I love about TiE. Because many of my close friends are a part of the TiE network, TiE has always felt like another family to me. The TiE Global events and retreats are also always fun to go to with the family. However, I’ll never forget when I was an early entrepreneur looking to TiE for guidance and to build a network. Those involved with TiE for a long time have a natural affinity with the organization because it genuinely has benefitted them. They’re willing to give TiE their time and money, but they get it all back through various opportunities to engage, to stay young, to learn new things, and to be inspired.
What obstacles have you faced in becoming an entrepreneur?
I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so there has always been the expectation that I would start a new company. Santhana and I both had 3-month-old daughters when we decided to start our entrepreneurial journey together. It wasn’t an easy decision, but we were encouraged and supported by our families. We were concerned because we were so young, we had good jobs, and we had young babies at home — why would we take a chance? At the time, my cousin was an entrepreneur in Detroit. He made us give him every reason why we shouldn’t start a company. Once we wrote down our worst fears, he asked us to add up all costs. He then handed us a check and told us to quit our jobs. Santhana and I both worked with the same boss and quit the same day. We then began a 15-year journey of ups and downs — bootstrapping for the first five years, venture funding of over $60 million for the next six years, and then a repurchase and restart that finally ended in multiple successful exits.
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who want to follow in your steps?
I’ve experienced all the struggles, successes, and failures of being an entrepreneur. I can understand, help, and warn others about some of the challenges of the entrepreneurial journey.
I learned that building the product is the easiest thing you can do. But, selling it successfully and growing it in a manner where somebody else can sell it at scale is much more difficult. There has also never been a better time to start a company. The cost of starting one has gone down significantly and technology allows you to do things faster.
Most importantly, I believe people have to find a way to convince themselves that they want to take a risk. If you can do it, go all in. But get comfortable with the worst-case scenario because that’ll give you an extra level of confidence. If you can get yourself comfortable enough with the risk, which requires writing it down and talking it out, you’ll gain a whole new strength. If you also can hear how somebody dealt with their problems or how some people had it worse, you can have a “If you can survive this, then I can survive that” mentality. Helping entrepreneurs build their products and make the right decisions to be successful was one of the main reasons I started Jeavio.
What are you looking forward to for the future?
Many opportunities are coming up in areas of AI, data analytics, natural language processing, and conversational marketing. When I look to the future, I ask myself how I can combine the potential of these areas of technology with the power of Jeavio to help early-stage companies make a significant impact. I want to build a portfolio of many companies backed by Jeavio that will someday make it big.