Vijay Kancharla: The Making of an Entrepreneurial Dream
The 90s were an era of turmoil. The internet had just made its ascent into our lives. Politics was filled with scandals much like today. New nations were united and many that stood through great revolutions were divided. And many corporate establishments started and ended overnight. It was truly an unstable decade, the effects of which many at the time thought would take much time to get past like the decades before. But, despite the turmoil and the general chaos at the time, the nineties was a decade of opportunities and everyone had a fair chance at cashing in on something remarkable. This was reflected in the attitude of the time and the nickname ‘go go nineties’ as it was affectionately called by the generation X. It was right at the middle of this chaotic decade, in 1995 that Vijay Kancharla and his childhood friend Suresh Reddy decided to follow up on a childhood dream, to start a business. Their idea, printing greeting cards in India and sell them in the United States. Their company dubbed USAGreeting was registered in California and thus started as Vijay puts it their ‘business roller coaster ride.’
Globalization, which was taking shape at that time reflected upon the Vijay’s efforts. In 1997 when the internet was still pretty new when the internet had just moved from 28 kbps to higher speeds of 56 kbps and the 800x600 resolution was a hype USAGreetings moved online. “I still remember Jan 1997, when I spend hours coding for USAGreetings.com, the online greeting card portal,” Vijay reminisces. Unlike today, the 90s was a time when people preferred greeting cards to convey their regards or condolences over emojis and companies such as Bluemountain Greeting and egreetings made billions. Despite the success of the market, Vijay decided to sell USAGreetings after the Dotcom crash and started Ybrant Technologies which was an offshoot of USAGreetings’ marketing technology. The motive behind Ybrant of course was to build online marketing tools for Digital Marketing companies.
Still working out of San Francisco where they started years ago, Vijay and Suresh decided to shift their headquarters to Hyderabad in India with intent to go public in India. Suresh moved back to India to work towards this. To fortify their efforts to this end Ybrant Technologies was renamed Ybrant Digital in 2008 and they acquired more than 10 companies thereby increasing their top line. “My partner was instrumental in taking the company public in India,” says Vijay. One of the companies that Ybrant Digital acquired was what could be considered internet royalty, the internet search company Lycos. Started in 1995, Lycos is one of the pioneers in internet search and was in fact the most popular and most visited web portal in the world by the year 1999 when Google was still just another startup fresh in the market going through its first round of funding. After acquiring Lycos in 2013, Vijay renamed the parent company Ybtrant Digital itself to Lycos.
After the acquisition Lycos became a listed company on the National Stock Exchange and India’s Bombay Stock exchange. The company today generates annual revenue of around $350 million and has offices in 20 countries. Today Vijay and his team work with companies in more than 40 countries in the Digital marketing space. However Lycos still serves as a search portal as well getting millions of visitors. Vijay apart from being the co-founder now serves as the CIO taking care of business operations for Lycos in the U.S. Vijay also leads the innovations at Lycos and is actively involved in growing the Lycos brand globally. His present efforts are dedicated towards further developing the Lycos Search Engine and Lycos properties such as Tripod, Domains and Whowhere. All these sites fall under the brand name Lycos media. Lycos’ second division is Lycos Advertising which serves businesses, agencies, and online publishers worldwide in meeting their Digital marketing needs. Through their efforts Vijay, Suresh and the Lycos team have been able to serve a huge clientele which includes Samsung, Indian telecommunications giant Airtel and British airways among many others. Lycos also partners with top publishers such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, MSN and Yahoo. Lycos Advertising currently serves more than 50 billion impressions each month. “Never give up, be persistent. Most of the time entrepreneurs give up on the first or the second hurdle they face. They should plan to cross all the hurdles and reach their goals.”