Corporate Employees Are Pedigree Dogs, Entrepreneurs Are Mongrels: Mindtree’s Subroto Bagchi

Much has been written about why people leave their cushy corporate jobs to start up. For some, it’s a burning desire to solve a problem, for others, it might be a desire to make their mark in the world. But one thing is certain — things are markedly different if you’re starting up after a corporate stint.

And Mindtree’s Subroto Bagchi has a hilariously accurate comparison between working corporate jobs and starting up. Bagchi should know — he’s been on both sides of the table. He’d started his first company when he was 30. It folded up in three years, after which he joined Wipro. Following a long stint at one of India’s biggest corporations, he quit to start up once again. The company he founded this time was Mindtree, which today has a market capitalization of over a billion dollars.

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“In order to be an entrepreneur, you have to burn your past, have to kiss your corporate success goodbye and be OK with living the life of a stray dog,” says Bagchi. “If you look at highly successful corporate executives, they are like pedigree dogs—well groomed, well fed and with a collar around their neck. Who will walk them and at what time is predetermined by management.” 

“When you start a company, you are like a mongrel—not sure about the next meal, life revolves around ducking the municipal dog-catchers, fighting with other street dogs. But when you are an entrepreneur, you know like a street dog that you can get up next morning and go anywhere you want to,” he says.

Anyone who’s started up will know how true this is. Startups are fraught with uncertainty, panic and inordinate amounts of stress. There are none of the cushy freebies that corporate employees enjoy — business class flights suddenly transform into economy, and getaways at 5-star resorts suddenly turn into outings at the local tea stall. But what startups lack in perks, they more than make up in the freedom they provide — each day, entrepreneurs know that they alone are the masters of their destiny. And for some, it’s a trade off worth making.