Promethean Founder Returns From India With Lessons For Entrepreneurs

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it found the right product design that resonated with customers, Grama says. To date, the company has delivered more than 260 chilling systems, mostly in India, but also in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Promethean recently received an order for 1,000 chillers to be delivered over the next three years, he says.

Grama recently moved back to the States. He says the plan was always for him to live in India for three or four years, and given the progress Promethean had made, it felt like the right time to step back.

Promethean promoted CFO Jiten Ghelani to the role of CEO, Grama says. Born and raised in Michigan, Ghelani is of Indian descent and relocated there with his family in 2014. He has a finance background and previously worked as a healthcare management consultant, Grama says.

Grama, meanwhile, started working in May as an entrepreneur in residence at MIT, where he earned a Master’s degree in 2007. He remains a Promethean director, but he says he is no longer involved in day-to-day operations.

His new role marks the first time that the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship and the Institute’s Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship have jointly hired an entrepreneur in residence with experience in the developing world. The job involves teaching, but a lot of it is mentoring students and guiding them to find their passions, Grama says.

“They’re very open minded,” he says. “They come to me with lots of questions. They seem to be appreciative of the advice.”

His first pointer about running a business in a developing country is the importance of immersion. “When you immerse yourself, any time, whether it’s in a developing country or in a problem, you learn and are able to make much more progress,” Grama says.

Another tip is to be realistic about how long it might take to achieve success with the venture, especially if it’s in a challenging environment. “I call it the frontiers of entrepreneurship,” Grama says. “The problems to be solved are big, and the obstacles to solving those [problems] are also big.”

Grama recognizes that he must walk a fine line between motivating students who want to start companies in developing countries “without scaring them off.”

“I want them to know that it’s difficult, but I don’t want them to give it up,” Grama says. “I want to tell people that they’ll be satisfied.”

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