Exclusive: Kris Gopalakrishnan Current Ace Investor and Infosys Founder Reflects Back on his Startup Days

Senapathy ‘Kris’ Gopalakrishnan is a name that resonates with the growth of IT sector in India and the rise of Infosys.

‘Kris’ as he is known popularly was the second last founder-CEO of the home-grown IT giant that spearheaded entrepreneurship in the field of digital transformation through internet technology.

While Kris quit the company’s board in 2014, he is far from retired from work. As an ex-president of CII and also the non-executive chairman of Axilor ventures, he promotes start-ups because starting his own business with six other friends in 1981 changed his life.

Gopalakrishnan talked to Business Insider about his early life which has made him who he is today. “I was brought up in a world with no internet or even computers, so my knowledge was limited to studies and I devoured books both while studying and in different libraries. I studied at the University of Trivandrum and I remember cycling everywhere to get books or to attend classes. My parents encouraged my obsession and even though they wanted me to be a doctor, IIT-Madras happened, and they were encouraging,” Kris explains how he ended up at an IIT.

Gopalakrishnan was stoked at the institute where they had the access to the best computers and the college was encouraging innovation at all levels.
He recalls an incident where his professor caught him reading on a cycle. ” Professor Mahabala had started this new Fortran programming course that he knew I’d be interested in, and encouraged me to join. That course ignited my love for experimentation and I never looked back at anything else,” Kris says, fondly.

First Entrepreneurial Stint that Worked

When it comes to work, Gopalakrishnan counts his stars and says that he was lucky to find people who supported him, no matter what. “I started working at Patni computers in Pune where I met Narayana Murthy. He wanted to start his own venture and asked me to come on board; I couldn’t refuse because I looked up to him as a senior,” Kris recollects.

With a dream team and a great manager like Murthy on board, Gopalakrishnan was not worried about him starting up at a young age of 27. He agrees that he was scared to tell his family and when he got married the same year as the incorporation of the company, he waited till the wedding to make the announcement. Luckily, everyone was unfazed and Kris started the first sailing course on the entrepreneurship, smooth.
Starting up from just Rs. 10,000, Infosys is now worth billions and Gopalakrishnan thinks that it’s all because the company built its way up slowly without any external funding and just focus on the product that they believed would change people’s lives. It did fast track his life and now he’s helping people to let go of their training wheels.