Guest post by Jeff Saperstein, co-founder of CVC Group and co-author of Service Thinking: The Seven Principles to Discover Innovative Opportunities
Romesh Wadhwani delivered an informed and rousing presentation, receiving a long-sustained standing ovation by those fortunate to hear his life story and candid reflections. He began with an audacious claim: “As I think about entrepreneurship, I have concluded that there is no higher creative calling than being an entrepreneur. More than being a painter, more than being a sculptor, more than being a dancer, more than being a singer… The reason is because entrepreneurs get to create on a very large canvas.”
Founder of Symphony Technology Group, Wadhwani has been a determined serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist, who builds companies with “real profits”. As a no nonsense business leader, Wadhwani’s professional life story would be reason enough to cheer; however, more remarkable is that he has pledged half his wealth to philanthropy, devoting his prodigious energies and considerable financial resources to giving back to his people in India through the Wadhwani Foundation: The foundation’s primary mission is to leverage India’s growing human potential to bring about large-scale, high-impact social change.
He was scathing in his critique of lack of social concern in India, citing that while $300 billion is annually donated to charity in the US only $5 billion is donated in India, a country with four times the US population. His focus on social change is to reverse that dynamic and apply Silicon Valley know how to find new solutions for job creation and economic development. The Foundation has introduced entrepreneurship programs in colleges. The National Entrepreneurship Network has created 2000 new companies.
Principles for Entrepreneurship
The core of his message was dedicated to Entrepreneurs and he shared five lessons from his success:
1. Entrepreneurship is about creativity, passion, and perseverance
2. Learn from mistakes and persevere; experience matters
3. Renewal is a critical aspect of entrepreneurship
4. The job of the leader is to Motivate the team
5. Innovation is essential to sustaining a vibrant business
Symphony Technology Group has combined these capabilities to create a different business model: Cross-fertilize 14 companies that have $3 billion revenues with $300 million in operating profit. He takes a sustainable portfolio approach to build great companies.
What is a great company?
1-Continuously increase value to customers
2-Acquire and retain best talent
3-Grow organically through innovation
4-Build high performance culture
Wadhwani suggests it is a journey; one never fully achieves greatness, but shoot to be better than just good.
Values do matter: how you deal with customers, talent, culture, and real tangible outcomes associated with them. Symphony Technology has a 4X outcome of comparable companies.
Romesh Wadhwani has lived an inspiring life and celebrates success by paying forward to help new generations of entrepreneurs. We would all be better served if his wisdom, experience, and drive were more widely known and appreciated.