Media Interviews

Vineet Nayar a sought-after mentor now, guiding no less than 18 startups

12 July 2016 | Source: The Economic Times


Former HCL Technologies head, Vineet Nayar spends his spare time guiding around 18 startups, having no mentorship himself.

NEW DELHI: Last month, two cofounders of a startup in the ed-tech space caught up with Vineet Nayar, the former head of HCL Technologies, at the Delhi airport.

They drove all the way back with him to his Noida residence. Over the hour-long car journey that doubled up as a meeting, Nayar broke down the idea of the startup with the two and what they needed to do to scale their operations.

This is what Nayar does with his spare time - mentoring startups. And he mentors 18 of them.

The former tech chief executive and founder of Sampark Foundation said the idea of mentorship came when he started HCL Comnet (a remote infrastructure management business) in 1992.

He had no mentors. Nayar said this set him back by three to four years. Today, he meets up with a number of startup CEOs daily across the healthcare, travel, education and virtual reality areas. He spends his time with these young CEOs who reach out to him, breaking their idea down bit by bit.

He doesn't, however, lend his name to any of these companies or invest in them and so doesn't declare who these companies are.

"The story goes back to 1992 when I set up my venture in the communications networking area. No one bought my idea at the time and it had no takers. It was a difficult period for me and I made a series of mistakes that set me back by at least three to four years," Nayar said.

His selection criteria is simple: He mentors only passionate startup people with a risk appetite. He doesn't mentor those working in industries with market size smaller than $1 billion.

He looks to help startups that are based on technology that leverages sensor tech or robotics. In the past, young startup enthusiasts have reached out to Vineet Nayar through word of mouth and via social media channels.

"I associate my name with no startup. Therefore I disclose no names of these startups. But of the 18 startups I work with, some are in healthcare, travel, education, product development, virtual reality and one bot-based company," Nayar told ET.

According to him, good startup heads should be like sponges and willing to act on things quickly.