Vinod Khosla : Entrepreneur and Venture Capitalist
Vinod Khosla is one of the most highly regarded venture capitalists in the Silicon Valley. He regularly features in the Forbes list of top global entrepreneurs of the world. In 2011 Forbes also listed him amongst the 400 richest persons in the world. Currently he is famous for his investments in energy and clean tech.
How it Began?
Vinod Khosla’s journey from IIT Delhi to Silicon Valley is truly an inspiring one. His first entrepreneurial venture was on soya milk technology. There was an institute in Nainital that had developed soya milk technology to make milk from soya beans. The technology got him interested and he approached many small scale industries with the idea but the venture failed when he found out that it would take 7 years for him to get a telephone which he needed for the business.
When Vinod read about founders of Intel who went to Silicon Valley with an idea and got funding, he was astonished. He realized that Indian environment did not suit his entrepreneurial ideas back then and decided to move to Silicon Valley.
Khosla did B.Tech in Electrical Engineering from IIT Delhi and then moved to US to pursue Masters in Biomedical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Instinct at Daisy Systems, SUN Microsystems and Kleiner Perkins
After MBA from Stanford in 1980, Khosla joined Daisy Systems which built CAD applications, CAE applications, computer aided design. Daisy had raised some venture capital for developing the workstation and then a little bit of money developing the applications. There it occurred to him that people who wanted to develop applications, wanted a platform too. So the idea for Sun came from the idea that companies like Daisy did not have a computing platform, a computer on which they could develop their applications and he co-founded SUN Microsystems which built technical workstations. After hardly two years at SUN he moved on to Kleiner Perkins which had funded SUN.
“I was not an easy person to get along with. I did not like the board, I had a different view of innovation and frankly I was ready to do something else and I had a different passion in my life that at that point I wanted to pursue that I have not been able to do.”
And Khosla stared furniture business because design was always his passion!
But at Kleiners he met entrepreneurs working on different things and he fell in love with the idea and work of being able to help these entrepreneurs raise their companies.
Home Page of Khosla Ventures
In 2000 Khosla had a lot of success as telecom investor but he felt the sector being hyped. After thinking for a while he decided to invest in energy and clean tech and started Khosla Ventures. Unlike many other investors Vinod has been able to reap profits from pure technology investments and his portfolio of investment in Clean Tech has been increasing with time.
Instead of pouring money in the start-ups, Khosla believes in making small investments at the beginning to provide operating costs to the companies and maintaining investments to let them turn into big organizations.
”I always take risk in my life and that is my success mantra.” Building up confidence for the new start ups, he says, “Always ignore conventional wisdom and be prepared to take risks.”
His advice to the entrepreneurs is to “not be afraid to try new things. I always tell people if you are afraid to fail, you will never succeed. John F. Kennedy said only those who dare fail greatly will succeed greatly.”
PS: We hope people like Khosla will come back to India with investments to promote start-up eco system here.