How Silicon Valley's new Indian entrepreneurs are blooming in all hues

August 1, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO: The Indian entrepreneur in America — a middle-aged man who runs an IT consulting outfit or a body shop. That person has not disappeared. But it’s a stereotype that is now being challenged by a new clutch of entrepreneurs looking beyond the usual realms that Indian entrepreneurs are identified with.

“A lot of traditional Silicon Valley industries like semiconductors and networking have matured. Today’s Indian entrepreneur is simply where the market is. And that obviously includes social, mobile and cloud,” says Vish Mishra, a venture capitalist at ClearStone Ventures and global head of the world’s largest entrepreneurial body, The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE).

While still in his 20s, Aayush Phumbhra started textbook rental Chegg — which in a few years made several acquisitions and is now rumoured to be filing an IPO in the near future. Just six years out of college, Kunal Sarkar created

Lumos Labs, a gym for the mind. “What has changed is that there are a lot of younger street-smart Indian entrepreneurs today,” says Tim Guleri, a former serial entrepreneur and managing director at Sierra Ventures. Indian women entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley remain few and among the most prominent faces is Sramana Mitra.

With her all-virtual venture One Million by One Million, Mitra advises entrepreneurs on strategy, lets them access her network and mentors them for VC pitches. The fee: $1,000 a year. Mitra wants to ‘nurture’ 1 million entrepreneurs, each with $1 million or more in revenue, by 2020.

Indian entrepreneurs are blooming in all hues. Take Harjinder S Bhade’s company Coulomb for instance. By providing a network of charging stations for electric vehicles (EV) and their applications throughout the world, Coulomb has made EVs practical for consumers.