Phanindra Sama and Charan Padmaraju, classmates from the 1998 batch, started redBus.in when they were 25 yrs old. The official name of their company - Pilani Soft Labs Pvt Ltd - is testimony to their emotional connect to their Alma mater. In 6 years, redBus has become the #1 bus ticketing company in India with an annual revenue of Rs. 400 crores. The Indian Press loves them!
redBus decided to show their gratitude to BITS Pilani by contributing $50K towards a TelePresence room in Pilani campus. In their own words, Phani and Charan describe how BITSians inspired, supported and made a huge impact in their entrepreneurship journey.
Redbus – BITSian support all the wayWhen we started up out of college, we hardly knew anything about setting-up a company. The only people we knew were BITSians. We might not have known them on campus, but the BITSian connection gave us the opportunity to walk into their offices and get help whenever needed.
Our advice to students and the wannabe entrepreneurs out there would be to be open and reach out to BITSians. They are there to support you, give you advice and help you in your aspirations.
- Our technology decision : In the very early days we had the redBus idea, but had no clue on how to build the software, or what platform to use. We knocked the doors of VSat (‘96 batch) - We were complete strangers but VSat spent time with us and helped us make our first crucial technology decision.
- The first business plan : 5-6 years back when entrepreneurship wasn’t so big in India, we had no idea about approaching VCs, raising capital or even writing a Business Plan. We reached out to Niranjan (‘96 batch BITSian), who was doing an MBA from AIM Manila. We told him what we do over phone and he sat down and created our first business model in Excel. In fact, every element in the first slide deck we presented to the VCs was created by Niranjan, and all we did was just go and present !
- Expanding our team : When we wanted to expand our team, we obviously reached out to the BITS network and asked them for referrals. Mayank, our Marketing guy joined a small company like ours, simply because of a common BITSian friend. BITSians have immensely helped us expand our team.
- Raju Reddy joining our board: The latest instance how BITS Pilani helped our company is Raju Reddy, Founder of Sierra Atlantic, joining our board as our mentor. Compared to many other companies, redBus is a relatively small company and the BITS Pilani brand connection was critical for a person of the stature of Raju to choose us. His mentor-ship has helped us immensely.
TelePresence and the Collective Knowledge of BITSians
The seamless connectivity will actually maximize the expertise and the collective knowledge of BITS / BITSians on the whole. With BITSConnect 2.0 and video conferencing, it would be fantastic if alumni spend time talking to students about what’s in store for them in the outside world - an "Unconference” if you will.
We feel that each and every one of us should contribute in some way Collectively working on making the BITS Pilani brand shine is extremely important, as it really comes back and helps the alumni in every sphere.BITS Pilani brand - the positive rub off
We see the BITS Pilani brand making a big difference when we speak to investors, potential employers etc. If BITS Pilani were THE best institution in the country, the rub-off is immensely higher than what we get now. This is something we will always work towards - making BITS Pilani a very strong name in terms of quality and infrastructure.
"The redBus conference room will inspire every BITSian student to dream big and start his own company some day" - Raju Reddy
Raju Reddy, their mentor says "Phani and Charan represent the best of young entrepreneurs coming out of India and it is a proud fact that they are both BITSians. I had the privilege of working with them as a Board member and mentor, and personally gained a lot from that experience. Their generosity in supporting BITSConnect 2.0 is impressive and makes them great role models for other young professionals in making the world a better place. I am sure the redBus conference room will inspire every BITSian student who sits in that room to dream big and start his own company some day."
BITS Pilani is made up of entrepreneurs like Phani and Charan who inspire the young blood of budding entrepreneurs. They continue to hold the best interests of their alma mater and are passionately helping the BITS Brand propel to high levels.
Have you made your contribution?
400 BITSians have donated to BITSConnect 2.0. Have You?
You can donate online or via cheque http://www.bitsaa.org/donations/. Donate before Dec 31st and end this year with the pride of giving back to your alma mater!
All donations are tax-deductible in US and India. For more details, please get in touch with Shashikant Khandewal (firstname.lastname@example.org), Sarath Kolla (email@example.com)
BITS Connect 2.0 team
P.S - The dates for the 'Wear your BITS Tshirt to Work' day has been postponed. Visit this page for more details. Thank you all for your 'enthu' for the campaign!