The son of an IPS officer, Jaspreet Bindra chose the customary engineering-management route. However, his career has taken him through the most unexpected places: from India's largest business group to a top multinational via an internet start up. His latest adventure is as CEO of GETIT, which he hopes to scale up by powering it digitally.
Straight out of business school (Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, Delhi), Bindra joined the Tata Group in 1994, through the Tata Administrative Services (TAS). This gave Bindra - one of the five selected out of 11,000 applicants that year - an opportunity to become an employee of the group.
"The Tata Group had got into a few telecom projects and licences way back in 1996-97. I moved to Hyderabad to be part of Tata Teleservices, which was at a start-up phase. I spent three years there in sales and marketing and as part of that job, was given my first business to start and run within the company - our own pay phone or PCO business. I was just 28 and everyone who reported to me was older," he grins.
By 2000, the internet business was catching on and he started getting restless. "I actually ran away from the Tata Group and became a part of a start-up team as the COO of a company called Baazee.com, which later became eBay India," he reminisces. "The experience was completely different. While Tata was a large, conservative business, Baazee was the other extreme. Our office was a cyber cafe for the first month," he says.
"Baazee gave me my first entrepreneurial experience and that has made me respectful of entrepreneurs." A year later, Bindra came back to the Tata Group, which had moved headquarters to Mumbai. "Since I had gained some basic, but solid, learning about the internet at that time, I was given the mandate to handle the marketing and sales of Tata Internet," he says.
During that time, Bindra also oversaw the expansion of Tata's internet business into Gujarat. He became a part of the acquisition and the integration team when the group bought Hughes Telecom and renamed it Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra). Bindra's last job at the Tata Group was to head the post paid mobile business. "By that time, it had a pan India presence and Tata Indicom had come up," he says.
Looking for fresh challenges, Bindra left in 2005 and joined Microsoft. His first assignment was to head its online and internet businesses - MSN and Hotmail, along with a little bit of search and mobile ad networks - in India. In the two-and-a-half years that he was at the helm, Bindra claims to have expanded it by about four-five times. "I then took over a larger business (consumer and retail) within Microsoft. It taught me just how brilliantly such companies could plan and execute. I don't think I did even 2 per cent of that in my other jobs," he confesses.
Bindra's portfolio in this purely B2C business included Xbox and gaming, software and hardware retail. "It is what I consider my best job so far and I stayed on for just over six years." Yearning for some rest, he took a year-long sabbatical to cycle around Kerala and get intensely involved in, and leverage, the tech start up ecosystem in India.
Post the sabbatical, Bindra took over as CEO of GETIT. He is clear about the journey that GETIT needs to craft for itself. "The business that GETIT is getting into is to digitally empower small and medium enterprises and help them get discovered by customers," he declares.