DTU Times interviewed Mr. Sanjay Bhargava, Chairman, Bharosa Club, and Mrs. Anita Bhargava, Co-Founder, Bharosa Club, who played a pivotal role in creating PayPal.
At the age of 42, you were one of the founding members of PayPal. What was the driving force that made you enter the area believed to be dominated by youngsters?
SB: Around 1999, not only youngsters were getting into dot-com companies. I had been working at Citibank for a very long time, and I had come up with this idea where e-mail could be used to make payments and I wanted to pursue this idea. I was also watching the Internet and learning how the Internet could be quite useful. I thought that I would spend the next 3 years understanding the Internet and work on my idea.
My work routine was getting monotonous and I knew I needed to experiment. Even if it failed, I could go back to a corporate career. I also knew that if I didn’t try I would regret it throughout my life because I was very passionate. Even though it was a big risk I knew I had a fall-back plan.
If you look at PayPal’s success story, it involves a combination of people who are all passionate; it is not a one-man show.
Both of you have extraordinary educational credentials. What role do you think that education from a premium institution plays in long run?
AB: I feel it does not play any role in today’s day and age. It is what you learn and what you know rather than the institution you went to. If a student going to university, and still gets onto Coursera and does a course on Machine Learning - since the student did it out of passion, that knowledge becomes invaluable.
SB: If you are cut out to be an entrepreneur, then college education will provide you with little or no help. But if you get into a consultancy career then it could matter because it opens up certain roles.
AB: At PayPal, I learnt on the job, and it was amazing. My prior education did not help very much because I had a Diploma. One should do whatever they are doing with passion or you will start to dislike your days. Obsessing over solving problems and being passionate towards it will help you in the long run.
SB: Not everyone can take the route of startups. I had a great time at IIM Ahmedabad and it has helped me grow. The bottom line is, there are numerous options and you do not need to start a company to be successful and earn money, you can join a company too. I didn't start PayPal, I joined PayPal. I was an early bird employee and a member of the founding team. The success I achieved by doing this was quite immense and more than somebody who would found a company.
“It’s good to be different, but also, it is different to be good”. What is your perspective on this?
SB: You can divide entrepreneurship into many, many areas. If you open one paan shop, that also counts as entrepreneurship. If you open a thousand paan shops and make paan the favourite food across the world, that is also entrepreneurship. If you want to be different and have an idea that can change the world, pursue it.
However, just being different for the sake of being different doesn’t help you much. In Bhagvad Gita, there is a famous saying, “keep doing your karma and do not worry about the fruit (of your labour).” But a lot many people misinterpret this. This is incorrect. It actually implies that you should be doing what you are doing, and the outcomes will happen if you are doing things correctly while having faith in yourself. One of the messages which are displayed on the website of Bharosa, which I firmly believe in is, “you can make billions by serving millions”.
During the 2008 Recession, the US could have turned out much worse, had companies like PayPal and eBay not existed. All the changes that have been happening in technology, such as Platform Revolution, are giving huge opportunities. Around 20 years from now, the Platform Revolution will begin. It will be bigger and will spread faster than the Internet revolution. Paypal took 20 years to become a $100 billion market cap company. I think the companies that you have not heard of today, will become a $100 billion company within the next 10 years, because of the Platform Revolution. This will affect everything, from agriculture and cities to healthcare.
Any final message that you would like to give to the students?
SB: There was a popular slogan of the original struggle, ‘Swaraj is my birthright’. Now the students should exclaim, ‘Prosperity is my birthright’ and prosperity doesn’t just imply wealth, it is also contentment and health. The thing is, the students must demand prosperity.
AB: The youth in general, because they are so tech-savvy, should demand outcomes for making the nation prosperous. Prosperity means good sanitation, eradication of poverty, clean air, etc. In short, demand real outcomes. You need a plan and subsequently, its execution.
SB: Use the power of technology. There are people who form a core team. They are nameless and faceless. They are doing it just because they are passionate. Once the drive is there, then they do anything like create a vote bank, which is bigger than any other vote bank. Consider Delhi itself for example. Look at the pollution and the slums in Delhi versus its potential for creating jobs, or tourism. Why is this not being utilised? If everybody starts demanding prosperity, then no doubt, India’s GDP will touch $5 trillion soon. But more importantly, every single household in India will be prosperous. They will have adequate wealth. They will be knowledgeable and concerned about health.
Summing up, I will say that everybody, especially the youth should contemplate that If India does not become prosperous, it is going to be a real problem for us Indians. If it does, it will become the heaven on Earth, just like Rabindranath Tagore envisioned. India can become prosperous, and you have to make it prosperous. I will quote John F Kennedy, who said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”