Any guesses what the world’s youngest billionaire might look like? Silver haired, middle aged? Times are changing and so is the time to change one’s mindset. Meet Suhas Gopinath, a 23 year old dynamic and confident youth who is also the founder, CEO and chairman of Globals Inc. It was at 14 years of age that he was certified as the world’s youngest web developer with his website coolhindustan.com and ever since then there has been no looking back. He started his company in 2000 in San Jose, California as he was deemed to young according to Indian laws to set up his own venture here. Today the company has branched dynamically with representation in over 11 countries. If there’s no stopping his enthusiasm, nothing stops the awards and recognition as well. Various newspapers such as BBC, Washington Times and Limca Book of Record speak of his achievements and he has been the recipient of numerous awards such as “Young Achiever Award” and “Young Global Leader” by the prestigious World Economic Forum.
In a candid chat with Youthopia, we manage to ask what fuels this young energetic man and the secrets behind his dynamism. Read on to find more.
1. How did you manage the unique combination of business and academics at such a young age? I was then working with a partner in the U.S. So I used to attend school in the mornings and work in the evenings. I could pull it off because evenings over here would be mornings in the U.S. and during exams I told my partner to announce that I was on a holiday for a month!! (Laughs it off) .My family couldn’t afford a personal computer so I had to visit an internet cafe for work. The irony was that I earned more than a lakh at that time! It was difficult, it was exhausting sometimes to work and study non stop but the satisfaction that you could create a platform for many young talented people compensated for all the exhaustion. And I believe that you don’t feel exhausted when you find fun in what you are doing.
2. The usual Indian parental opinion about entrepreneurship is that it is a risky career option. What is your take on that? I would not call it a risk. It is just a great feeling to offer employment opportunities to so many people and I feel that entrepreneurship is an adventure in itself.
3. How important do you think an MBA from a top B-school to be an entrepreneur? Skill is important and not the age or academics. I could be a reasonable example because I, being someone who did not even complete high school, could recruit employers for my company!
4. What motivated you to be an entrepreneur? I felt that as an entrepreneur you can offer employment opportunities, create a platform for young professionals and also be really innovative. I found it fun to be an entrepreneur.
5. How did you treat the employers elder to you? I remember the first time I called up one person one phone to recruit him into my company when I was 15. After hearing through whatever I had to say about his job, he said that he wanted to know my age just out of curiosity because my voice sounded so immature. And when I told him my age he was baffled and said that he wasn’t really interested to work “under” a guy who was half his age. That was when I realized that considering my age, it would be better to stand at the back of the group and navigate rather than leading the group. I tried my best to make my employees feel comfortable with me and forget the whole boss and employer relationship. I even played hide and seek with them after work!
6.CoolHindusthan.com at the age of 14. How did it feel like to be an entrepreneur at that age? It was certainly my 1st website, but I didn’t launch it as an internet venture to generate any revenues but because it could act as a showcase to exhibit my skills.
7. At the age of 23, do you look back on your teenage years as a lost childhood? I definitely could not hang out with my friends as much as I would have if I was like everyone else. My friends often teased me saying that I had all the luxuries that money could buy me but still I could not enjoy the luxury of going to a movie on a weekend. Yes, I missed that luxury but still I did get the pleasure of employing so many talented young people which, for me is priceless.
8.Was your initiative a sudden spur of thought or a result of efforts put in for many years? I personally had other plans for my future. So I could say it was all just like a flash.
9.What would you do for a living if technology vanished tomorrow? I have always been fascinated with veterinary science so I would probably be something to do with it.
10. Many people would think of you as their role-model. Who would be yours? That’s definitely the founder of Microsoft Bill Gates.
11. What is the best advice you ever got? That again is by Mr. Bill Gates. He had indicated a sentence that “The past is a thief; if you allow it to; it could steal your present and future.”
12. Do you have any plans of being a venture capitalist for start ups? We are already investing for some emerging companies, but I would not wear the hat of a Venture Capitalist because they are often even termed as Vulture Capitalists. But yes, I would be glad to encourage any emerging companies.
13. One quality that an entrepreneur MUST have? A Vision.
14. One quality which he MUST NOT have? Tendency to mix up personal and professional life.
15. A few words of encouragement for Youthopia.. Do not confine yourself to bookish knowledge. It may be important, but books are not everything. It is very important to have as much as practical experience and exposure as possible through internship programs or academy interactions.
– as told to Sri Vidya