Anand Deshpande, 55, and the founder of Pune-based Persistent Systems has been an outlier for nearly three decades. Since he founded Persistent in 1990, he has watched lucrative opportunities in low-end software services come and go across different cycles. Over years, he’s steered Persistent away from low-end outsourcing business towards high-end software product development work for the likes of IBM and so on.
With revenues of nearly $500 million in 2017, it’s been a long, slow journey for Persistent and Deshpande, a former Hewlett Packard engineer.
“It’s not so much about founders. What everybody needs to learn is how to delegate, and that’s a very tricky part for the founders because by mentality all of us believe we know how to do things, and we find it difficult to believe somebody else could do the same thing,” he says.
“There’s a little bit of arrogance that most founders have, including me. How to delegate is the biggest challenge.”
As I sat down with him for this episode of Outliers, I listened to some great insights about building a startup, failing, creating a culture of ownership, and finally, the need to let go the founder’s mentality when required. And, more importantly, the founding team keeps changing with every cycle.
“Every transition is traumatic, but you have to stay on. When a company starts to taper down because of either incumbency of business model or other reasons, you must find a new model. We are in the fourth phase right now at Persistent.”