Who Is Vivek Wadhwa? Interview With The Entrepreneur, The Bollywood Movie Producer

Vivek Wadhwa is a Visiting Scholar, School of Information, UC-Berkeley; Director of Research, Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization, and Exec in Residence, Pratt School of Engineering, Duke University; Senior Research Associate, Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School; Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Halle Institute of Global Learning, Emory University; and faculty member and advisor at Singularity University.

Behind the academia lies the story of Vivek Wadhwa, the entrepreneur. An entrepreneur who has 2 successful startups under the belt and importantly, a Bollywood movie too!

And with this interview, we announce a new channel on Pluggd.in called MyWay (or Highway), which will bring interviews/journeys of inspiring entrepreneurs to Pluggd.in readers.

Pluggd.in: Vivek, Let’s start with your life as a programmer-turned-entrepreneur.

Vivek Wadhwa: I did my MBA from New York University and  B.A. in Computing Studies from the University of Canberra, in Australia. When I was going to school, someone showed me video punch card. I was so fascinated about it that I decided to make a career out of it. I started learning new language/techniques.I decided to make a career and was surprised to know that people actually pay you money for the computer code. First half of my career, I was a computer programmer learning new languages.

When I went to Boston, I joined a company and they needed to move to a client-server architecture (80s). I ended up developing the system – and was quite a success (the company decided to spin off that business unit into its own company, Seer Technologies). And then I started Relativity Technologies, which helps companies modernize their legacy computer systems. That was doing very well until the dot-com crush bubble hit us hard.

Pluggd.in: You also had great exits.vivek_wadhwa..

Vivek Wadhwa: I took the first company (Seer Technologies) public and later started Relativity Technologies

I worked too hard and I burned myself out. One day, I woke up in the hospital  (heart attack) and it felt like a twilight zone. But eventually I snapped out of it (my both companies did extremely well, I fixed the company). My second company was taking off like a rocket ship until it got into a trouble. But then I fixed it and it was valuable again. And here I am dying in the hospital and my VCs said that this is an extremely valuable company and they wanted to take it over (and all this when I was in critical care in the hospital).

I then fought the battle, got into ugly battles and won them.

There are different kind of corruptions – human being worldwide are the same. In India you have one type of corruption, in America you have different types of corruption. But it’s the same. Human beings worldwide are same. They often lack ethics. There are good people and some very bad people also – I was tired of tech world /ethics of such people and exited from tech world after that. And then I had to decide what to do next.

Pluggd.in: And then?

Vivek Wadhwa: You’ll be surprised! I took a year off after the heart attack and went to Bollywood!

My son, Vineet didn’t pick up Hindi for a very long time, but he started watching Hindi movies/ and then one fine day he said “Dad, I want to be a movie star”.

I  said” OMG! What’s going on here”.

I knew investment banker, Brad Listermann who knew Kashmira Shah…and eventually I produced the movie “MY Bollywood Bride” in 2007.

Poster_MyBollywoodBride

But later I completely checked out of Bollywood world. I wanted to be a part of the world where I could apply my mind, my energy and give back to the world. And something which was ethical – and I tell you that academia is ethical. It really is an honor for me to be academic and working with great people.

And I feel I am making great impact to the world with my research.

Vivek Wadhwa has been researching on globalization for the last 7 years and is often seen debating on startup visa and related topics, Follow him on his twitter (@wadhwa) and his articles on his website: wadhwa.com.

Do read Vivek’s articles on Pluggd.in:

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– For those who are keen on meeting such Inspiring entrepreneurs, do attend the next edition of UnPluggd, scheduled for November 19th, Pune. UnPluggd is India’s largest startup event focused on bringing amazing content and showcasing emerging startups from India.