How Nandan Nilekani brings people together to create lasting impact

Most of us have known Nandan as the cofounder of Infosys, and the brain behind Aadhaar and India’s recent financial platforms, including “the IndiaStack.”

While all of the above make for a good bio of Nandan, they don’t necessarily make him an outlier.

From my days of tracking Infosys since 2000 to writing early stories about Aadhaar, it’s been fascinating to watch how he brings different stakeholders with absolutely opposite views on the same table together.

And his ability to be both a thinker and a doer positions him uniquely to build products and institutions that last.

So how does he build things that create impact at scale?

What’s Nandan’s playbook like?

Do listen in to learn more

Guneet Monga’s journey producing next gen movies in a world ruled by the incumbents

Guneet Monga has always been a disrupter. In Bollywood, where the power centers of celebrity actors, cinema distributors and agents dominate everything, Monga has been pushing for a new future for a long time.

When Period. End of Sentence, a Netflix film co-produced by Monga, won an Oscar earlier this year, it was more than just a coveted trophy.

“It proves the new future, shows hope,” she tells me.

India has become a fascinating battlefield for the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime and several others looking to engage with the next generation of consumers. The intersection of high data speeds, the world’s second-biggest smartphone user base, and the quenchless hunger for entertainment is driving the market into a new tizzy.

Monga, the producer behind some of the other popular movies, including Gangs of Wasseypur and The Lunchbox, shares her journey building her company Sikhya into the next-generation powerhouse that produces movies for the digital platforms.

Her journey has many lessons for anyone looking to carve out a new future in a market ruled by the incumbents.

And yes, there’s an amazing backstory to the Oscar-winning movie Period. End of Sentence.

Please do listen in.

How Anand Jain used frugality lessons from childhood to build CleverTap

Welcome to The Playbook. A brand new podcast from FactorDaily bringing conversations with the doers and inventors about how they build products of impact in India. The idea is to get under the hood, go behind the scenes, and offer deep insights from their playbooks of building products and ideas that matter.

Founded in May 2013 by Anand Jain, Sunil Thomas and Suresh Kondamudi, CleverTap has raised $41.6 million so far and is valued over $125 million.

But that’s not the story.

As a 12-year-old teen growing up in a lower middle class family in Ahmedabad, Anand watched and learned the value of frugality from his mother who stitched dresses to make ends meet in a small tailoring shop.

“Every time she would stitch a fall to a sari, we would make two rupees, and it would cost 50 rupees for every shirt I had to buy. So I knew it would take 25 saris to earn one shirt,” he says. “It would take an hour’s work by my mother to earn a shirt.”

“It’s very easy to spend money, but to earn money is really hard.”

“Can we be more resourceful instead of throwing resources at a problem.”

Anand became a self-taught entrepreneur when he was just 12 and had lost his father.

“I would get unused detergent powder from a popular factory, package it as soaps and sell them door to door.”

But this isn’t just a rags to riches story, either.

It’s more about applying the lessons in frugality, customer understanding and product building.

Listen in to learn more about what makes CleverTap among the fastest growing and most admired software products from India.

India’s first man in space, Rakesh Sharma, on how keeping a low profile has been liberating

Welcome to Season 3 of the Outliers Podcast.

We launched Outliers in December 2016 with Manish Sharma of Printo, who shared his life lessons in being an entrepreneur. Since then, we have produced 87 episodes over two seasons of Outliers. Outliers isn’t just a podcast for us. It’s a journey of conversations that has taken us from Leh, where we met Sonam Wangchuk, to Udupi with Robosoft’s Rohith Bhat, Dr Gullapalli Nageswara Rao in Hyderabad on shaping the future of eye care with compassion, to Mumbai with Uday Kotak and Harsh Mariwala, and so on.

Once again, thanks for being a part of this journey, and more importantly, sharing your feedback and helping us shape the product.

Now back to Season 3.

The first time I heard about Rakesh Sharma was in school, like most of us growing up during the 80s and listening to stories about India’s first man in space. More recently, while meeting Madan Padaki, a social impact entrepreneur, I discovered Sharma again.

How can someone who has traveled space keep such a low profile, I asked Padaki, who had just met him.

“He told me he hasn’t been able to recover from the overwhelming feeling of being in space, feeling so small,” Padaki told me.

That got me really interested in chasing Sharma for recording this episode of the Outliers Podcast. We finally met Sharma at his hill home in Coonoor near Tamil Nadu’s famous hill station Ooty to record this episode. If you hear the sounds of birds and air as background noise in the podcast, it’s unedited intentionally. I’m sure you will love it.

Throughout the conversation, Sharma not only avoids sharing the experience of being in space but tones it down every time we even touch the subject.

“There’s nothing extraordinary about it,” he tells us. “You could feel the same way (about being too small) standing on this hilltop too.”

We will be publishing the full transcript of this episode soon. Until then, I really hope you will enjoy listening to Squadron leader Rakesh Sharma on how keeping a low profile has been a liberating experience for him.
I also found this BBC story about Sharma titled “Rakesh Sharma: The making of a reluctant Indian space hero” — an interesting read to help set the context.