What is a disruptive idea? A disruptive idea is a thought process that disrupts an existing process. An innovative thinking that eventually creates a new market or new technology. People with conventional thinking cannot create disruptive businesses. Lateral thinking people are the reason why we see businesses, which change the way we do things. These companies were not built by people who thought in the traditional step by step manner format. To simply put, if it wasn’t for people like Steve Jobs, Sachin Bansal, Phanindra Sama, etc. we would not be enjoying so many revolutionary products and services they made available to us for our convenience way before its due time.
Dhiraj Rajaram, the Founder and CEO of Mu Sigma is currently responsible for making one of the biggest global data companies in the world. Mu Sigma is an Indian multinational data analytics company, which is currently helping 125 of ‘Fortune 500’ companies like Microsoft, Pfizer, Dell, etc. in examining, uncovering hidden patterns and data information via their unique data analysis process. Dhiraj is not only the person behind this chatur idea in big data analytics, but he is also the person who built Mu Sigma from ground up. So right from securing seed funding to aligning organizational resources, building teams and to secure many 'Fortune 500' customers, he is leading Mu Sigma right from the front.
He glowingly says that if it wasn’t for a small, but disruptive company which moved from Albuquerque to Seattle to provide its operating system to IBM, we probably had to wait a few more years for a technical data-crunching machine to become a personal computer.” It was Microsoft, which was one of the key players responsible for bringing the ‘Personal Computer Revolution’, Ironically it was also the Mu Sigma’s first client when they started!
As per Dhiraj Rajaram, an entrepreneur needs to go through the ‘three grade test’ and not only excel in it but master it. The first-grade test is to achieve ‘Clarity!’ An entrepreneur needs to have absolute clarity of what he or she is doing and why he or she is doing it. Dhiraj unabashedly accepts that his company did not have the complete clarity when it started. In spite of having the uncertainty of not knowing the entire prospect, Mu Sigma was doing that one thing which was compensating for their lack of clarity. It was seeking clarity every day! It was the habit of relentlessly asking yourself every day that ‘Can we have more clarity!’ Once you have achieved the clarity the second grade test is ‘having the focus,’ it’s not just about having the focus to build your product better, it’s the focus to say ‘No,’ to the irrelevant things that come along as you move ahead. In addition, once you have accomplished and understood both the levels.
The third-grade test is ‘Perseverance,’ an entrepreneur is tested! He recalls the time when his company lost 40% of its revenue in just one year. It was the darkest time for Dhiraj, it was 2008, the worst year in the world of finance and one of the main data supplier companies in the Pharmacy Industry gave the notice to revoke their services if they would not leave their tie-ups with other pharmaceutical companies. The company found itself between the rock and the hard place and had to take the risk of leaving a huge chunk of revenue. They said no to the customer, and as they were suffering a huge loss, many market players were eager to buy them out, they said no to them as well! They took the risk and now the company is doubling its revenue and is now ready to cross $250 million (? 1500 Crore) in revenue by the year end of 2015.
Dhiraj was a former consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton and Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) in the US. Raised by his grandparents, Dhiraj completed his Electrical Engineering from College of Engineering Guindy, Anna University Chennai. Post this he went to do his M.S in Computer engineering from Wayne State University Michigan in Michigan and did his MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business in Illinois. Not many know, but to start Mu Sigma Dhiraj actually sold his Chicago apartment to raise the initial funding of $200,000 in 2014.
He lightheartedly says that startups nowadays know the importance of analytics, but most of them have unrealistic expectations. They all look for either a superman i.e. a person who knows everything, and can do anything with his or her natural talent. He rightly says that even if you get the superman, eventually one of the Fortune 500 companies will outbid you. In the second extreme case, startups look for the giant robot, which is full of automation and numbers with zero intuition and flexibility. According to Dhiraj, a growing company requires an ‘Ironman!’ Growing companies require a perfect combination of human intelligence and design thinking along with the latest technology.
Dhiraj has won many accolades for providing his inestimable services as an entrepreneur in the analytics field. Dhiraj has won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year India Award 2012 in the services category. Not only that but Economic Times has bestowed him with the title of ‘Entrepreneur of the Year 2014’. In the year 2013, he was ranked 37 on the Fortune Magazine 40 under 40 list. In today's world, data analysis has enormous capacity and remarkable possibilities. Dhiraj feels there is a long way to substantiate and analyse the big data to its fullest potential, but he is confident that by using the man-machine combination in analytics we will be able to solve millions of small problems, which will eventually trickle down and solve major problems of giant corporations over a period.