Dropout Who You Can Look Up To – The Story of Deepak Ravindran

Deepak Ravindran

The idea of dropping out of college has not been as widespread in India as in the US. Be it due to Indian parental pressure or simply choosing the safe route to guaranteed jobs, almost nobody drops out of college in the country. However, one individual not only dropped out of college but also went on to have a successful entrepreneurial journey. Today, we will be covering the story of Deepak Ravindran. 

Deepak had an interest in the internet from the early age of 15. From an early age, he possessed an entrepreneurial spirit and sold CDs and tech magazines to earn pocket money.  

Deepak Ravindran founded Swades Solutions in 2005 and built an e-commerce website called www.just4sale.com during his summer vacations. He later sold the website to a friend when he entered college.

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College Dreams and Dropping Out

An 18-year-old Ravindran decided to give both medical and engineering entrance exams, securing ranks in both. He liked computer science better, so he picked engineering.

At the Lal Bahadur Shastri College of Engineering in Kasargod, Ravindran decided to start his own company. Thus, Innoz Technologies was born with Deepak and three other friends named Hisam, Ashwin and Abhinav. The trio also launched an offline search engine called SMS Gyan by partnering with various knowledge providers, including Wikipedia.

When his startup was picked by IIM-A’s accelerator program that promised Rs 3-5 lakh funds, things came to a head. The founders had to shift base to Ahmedabad, which meant choosing between college and the accelerator. The quartet made their choice and dropped out of college in 2008. Innoz’s simple profit-sharing model crossed the million-dollar revenue benchmark and was listed as the largest offline search engine in the Limca Book of Records. 

No Rest For Brilliant Minds

Post Innoz, Deepak landed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a part of an incubator program. A significant drawback for Deepak was his age. People found it hard to trust a 20 years old college dropout. But Deepak worked tirelessly to prove the app’s value which resulted in partnership with leading telecom operators such as Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, etc., to integrate SMS Gyan into Value Added Services (VAS). 

Deepak continued his journey with Quest in the US. Quest used smartphone technology to enable its users to ask questions to people geographically close to them. He soon understood the limited growth prospects of this product in a fiercely competitive market and decided to move on. After the loss at Quest, many people advised Ravindran to join a company. However, he had other plans. 

This time, Deepak cashed in the need of the people while launching his hyperlocal messaging application, Lookup. At 27, Ravindran introduced this app – a hyperlocal messaging platform that allows customers to connect with local businesses.

Lookup was a great hit, acquiring a million users in just eight months. Industry leaders such as Kris Gopalakrishnan and Vinod Khosla invested about $3 million over several funding rounds. In 2016, Lookup was acquired by NowFloats. 

Achievements of Deepak Ravindran

  • He was featured in Forbes, MIT, The Sydney Morning Herald, Economic Times, Times of India, Bloomberg UTV, Business Standard, etc.
  • He was a part of MIT Technology Review’s outstanding innovators under 35 for 2011.
  • INK fellow in association with TED in 2011.
  • Fellow of the Startup Leadership Program (SLP).
  • Innoz was selected in the Red Herring Global 100.
  • Innoz was Asia 100 winner for 2010.
  • Innoz was a part of Nasscom’s Top 8 Emerging Companies in India for 2010.

Deepak Ravindran currently has five jobs: Founder at Pirate Fund, Co-Founder at Startup Village, and Co-Founder & CEO at Tranz. Deepak’s endeavor to build meaningful, innovation-based businesses has been backed by his undeterred spirit.

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