Passion, perseverance and a positive attitude are key assets to become a successful entrepreneur. Cultivating these attributes requires both skill, and some tips to get started. Deepak Jain, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of AiNET has some words of advice for new entrepreneurs, based on the lessons he has learned in his 25 years in business.
Jain has succeeded in IT services, a sector known for explosive technological disruptions and sky-high financial performance milestones, while retaining a strong commitment to his values, his clients, and his employees. With a style made up of equal parts creativity and patience, Jain’s management practices emphasize both individual thought leadership and team-oriented, ground-up problem solving.
As a successful entrepreneur, he is always reflecting on what it means to become, and remain, at the top of his field. “Your obligation is to always be looking out over the horizon, always asking, what is the next thing around the corner in my industry?” says Jain.
“In a way, you’re trying to look into a crystal ball. Your job is partly to manage your business, but mainly it is to create the vision around which it then innovates. When I describe myself, I usually tell people that my role here at AiNET is to be creative, to be looking a few steps ahead, and to be encouraging our team to do the same.”
From passion to profession
In 1993, at the age of 17, Jain had been hosting VBBS boards from his parents’ basement, when one day a company in Finland contacted him and asked whether he could host a website for them. He remembers thinking, “Hey, there might be some money in this whole internet thing!”
Since then, AiNET has been steadily rising to their current footprint, with four wholly-owned internet data centers totaling over half a million square feet, and some 10,000 miles of fiber optic cable in the ground. Jain’s energy has infused AiNET’s unique performance-based culture. In the year 2000, he won the Prestigious Entrepreneur of the Year award for his work with AiNET.
Jain always stresses that entrepreneurs are successful because of planning and foresight which allow them to be in the right place at the right time with the right idea. However, lately he sees another, equally important factor.
He says, “I have come to realize that it was because of my passion and interests that I was in that place that set me up for success in the first place. I was always interested in computers and the internet, and was able to leverage my passion. So, more than education, it was my passion for the field which prepared me for success.”
Getting over those first hills
At the start, as do all businesses, AiNET faced some internal hurdles. But after 25 years in business, Jain has learned the lessons that only time can teach.
Jain explains, “I think many entrepreneurs are really in love with the idea of immediate results and fantastic growth, without wanting to do the hard, unglamorous work of making sure that your service is aligned with the needs of the client, or that is delivered in an exceptional way. I think as entrepreneurs, we all fall in love with our ideas a little bit, and it takes time and experience to learn how to see your business with a more objective eye.”
It is that ability to take a step back and evaluate your ideas and business objectively that separates those entrepreneurs that will succeed in the long run, and those who will not.
The wheels must keep turning
Deepak Jain has learned many lessons in his 25 years as a CEO. The biggest lessons have been gleaned from competitors who aren’t in business anymore. “You have to be constantly refining, constantly improving, and constantly innovating if you want to stay ahead of the curve. The hard work is never done,” he says. “Some companies create one great product, and then they’re done. The trick is to remain in motion.”
Perspective is also important. Jain believes what sets AiNET apart is that they recognize why their clients actually do business with them.
“Customers are really only interested in getting results, not lists of widgets and processor speeds. AiNET understands those needs, and is relentlessly committed to delivering those results, and do everything that they can to provide an exceptional service that help their clients to achieve their goals.”
AiNET provides managed data center services, hybrid cloud technologies and managed fiber networks. “That all sounds very high-tech and opaque,” Jain says. “Simply put, AiNET refines technology to provide their clients with better outcomes, whether their clients are trying to launch a space shuttle, deliver a pizza, or trade a stock. AiNET cleverly helps them do it faster and better.”
As technology markets continue to change and adapt around cloud technologies, AiNET is set to invest a huge amount into their R&D. Jain says they have some very exciting cloud-based products and services in the works to help them keep their competitive edge. Additionally, they have a firm culture of valuing all opinions and perspectives here. The AiNET team is empowered to share their ideas, and that diversity of viewpoints help them to craft and tailor their solutions.
What it all comes down to
Because of his success, new entrepreneurs often ask Jain for his advice. Jain doesn’t believe there are many formulas or secrets to success that work for everyone in every industry, but if there is one, Deepak Jain often frames it within his own personal experience.
He had an interesting journey before AiNET. “I went to school to be a biologist, which is a perfectly respectable profession, but it wasn’t my passion,” he says. “My passion was computers and the internet, and I was blessed enough to wake up one morning and find myself successful in this particular field. I wake up every morning and can’t wait to get to the office. Passion is the key.”