Exclusive: Mahesh Murthy's Unique Art of Survival- From Being a Vacuum Salesman to an Ace Investor

“I’ve always believed in one motto in life: Being different, being relevant and being entrepreneurial and I’ll follow that to the end of my days,” said Mahesh Murthy on his journey as a broke teenager to an entrepreneur to investor and he doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. Mr. Murthy describes himself as someone who started out as doing exactly as he was supposed to do. He hails from a traditional Tamilian Iyer Brahmin family, and was naturally good in studies and even aced the quintessential Indian child checklist by getting into an engineering college. After a year of studying engineering, he realized that he wanted to drop out of college which resulted in his family kicking him out.Mahesh says that as a 17-year-old, it was the best lesson he could get as he learned to survive and rise from nothing. He lived in a cheap hotel in Secunderabad and got his first job at 17 in Eureka Forbes as a vacuum cleaner sales executive but he knew he was meant for greater things.

“I started my first business when I was 19 when I realized that I could sell vacuum cleaning services instead of vacuum cleaners as the cost of the machines was too high at the time. It didn’t get off but I realized that I wasn’t meant to be just an employee,” Murthy recollects.

Murthy is a huge believer of self-learning and says that he’s never stopped learning, “I once sat with Jeff Bezos and asked him how he knew so much, and he said simply that I run a bookstore. That resonated with me and I still go to books when I don’t understand anything; from stock-exchange to venture capital funding, I’ve read all relevant books that are out there,” he says that he remains a self-learner which is why he’s still not a graduate in the formal education sense. His journey to entrepreneurship and then being an investor started with realizing his creative genius and joining Grey Advertising and then Ogilvy Hong Kong where he worked for clients like Unilever, The Economist, HP, Microsoft, Pepsi, and MTV.

He joined Passionfund in 2000, and then since then, he has been involved in the creation and exits of many successful start-ups including, USWeb, Compassbox, WebDunia, Geodesic and EBSDirect among others.
He’s currently investing through Seedfund which started in 2005 with two other partners and raised its first round of India’s first Venture Capital Fund.
These days Mahesh divides his time between his three passions; advertising, traveling and startup companies via both Pinstorm and Seedfund.


“I look dispassionately at what people say and examine life as I go. The advertising business taught me psychology and understanding consumers to know how you can persuade them,” the rebel signs off.