Like most first-time entrepreneurs, making money was the last thing on Anand Deshpande’s mind when he started his company, Persistent Systems, in 1990 with ₹2 lakh of his own and borrowed money. “When you are an entrepreneur, you have to be all in, so up until the listing in 2010, all the money was re-deployed into the company and I only took home a minimal salary. It was only after the IPO that I have been re-investing my dividend income in risk-free bonds and debt funds,” says Deshpande, who, along with his family members, holds a 38.4% stake in the company. The dividend income on the holding was around ₹43 crore in FY15. Based on the current market price, Deshpande’s stake alone (28.5%) is valued around ₹1,470 crore. But unlike most entrepreneurs, he looks at his stint at Persistent Systems as a job and not as a family business where his son or daughter will be groomed to take over the business.
“I will be running the company as long as I am fit to do so and will be happy to find a professional CEO when the time is right to take the company forward,” he says. For now, he wants to focus on something that will leave behind a legacy and create an impact, and he plans to do that through the foundation DeAsra, launched by him and his wife Sonali. “A substantial portion of my wealth will go towards scaling up this venture in the future,” he says. DeAsra is a non-profit company which plans to help individuals set up small businesses by handholding them through the initial process. “There aren’t enough jobs around today and if we can enable entrepreneurship by simplifying the process of setting up a business, a lot more people will be gainfully employed.” The foundation aims to generate more than 1 lakh jobs between 2015 and 2020 by creating 2,500 small enterprises.