Passion and zeal to conquer the world are traits we all just brush through at some point in our lives, but for this global citizen, these were pretty much the reason for his grand success.
With his eyes on the prize, the quote ‘we miss 100 per cent of the shots that we don't take’ ringing in his head and heart filled with vigour, B.J. Arun moved to the U.S. in 1989 to expand his ambit of opportunities. With Steve Jobs as his inspiration from childhood, after spending the first five years working for other enterprises, he started his own company called California Digital in San Jose. On the birth of the entrepreneur in him, he says, “I have always had an entrepreneurial bend of mind and started my very first company building a CDOT designed telecommunications equipment while in engineering college.”
With over twenty five years of leadership experience in the Information Technology industry, Arun was till recently the CEO of July Systems (acquired by Cisco in June 2018) – a company that offered a cloud-based proximity marketing platform for customer acquisition and engagement. He is also the president of TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs), a not-for-profit global network of entrepreneurs and professionals dedicated to the advancement of entrepreneurship. With so much on his plate, how does he manage to keep up? He says, “I have benefited tremendously from TiE over the years and post July Systems getting acquired by Cisco in June of 2018, I felt it was my time to give back to this great institution that has had such an important influence on my own entrepreneurial journey. Multitasking is something that we all have learned to deal with, but having a world-class team backing me up is the secret to being able to lead and contribute to multiple organisations.”
Sometimes, it’s an inevitable fact that people tend to get carried away with their success and think very less about giving back to where they hail from. But, when we asked Arun if he was part of any philanthropy connected to India, he says, “There are numerous philanthropic causes that I support, but two of my favourites that are India focused are the Foundation for Excellence (ffe.org) that provides support to academically brilliant engineering and medical students who are financially challenged, as well as the 1947partitionarchive.org that is documenting the oral histories of the people that experienced the horrors of the partition of the subcontinent into India and Pakistan.” Though philanthropy gives a sense of satisfaction, he still misses the food and warm people from India who are almost ready to do anything to help people in need. According to Arun, the biggest issue that immigrant entrepreneurs are facing in America today is the absurdly long wait to obtain green cards. He says, “Highly skilled workers on H1-B visas are not able to leave their employers to start their own companies without a green card and considering how much value has been created by immigrant entrepreneurs historically, this is truly a disservice to the U.S. economy.” Sharing his words of wisdom with aspiring entrepreneurs, Arun says, “My advice to entrepreneurs looking to expand their horizons is to leverage platforms like TiE, which has 61 chapters in 14 different countries. The power of the network is invaluable irrespective of whether they are looking for funding, team members, or customers.”
While for some the question ‘what’s next’ gives chills down their spine and breaks them down Arun seemed quite sorted. He says, “There are numerous excellent India-based startups that need help in scaling beyond our borders. Given my own three decades of experience in the U.S., I am looking to help such Indian entrepreneurs scale their businesses across North America. Moving forward, I plan to spend a few months each year at my home in Bengaluru; becoming a global citizen gives me the opportunity to get the best of both East and West.”