By Vanu Bose, President and CEO, Vanu Inc.
Immigrants have for long contributed to innovation and economic growth in the U.S. and recently, many Indian entrepreneurs have made substantial impact in the U.S.
The Bose Corporation, established by my father, Dr. Amar G. Bose, in 1964 was one of the first early ventures by an U.S. born Indian immigrant. I have been fortunate to have my father as a mentor and advisor, and learn from his decades of experience in building and running his company.
One important value I learnt from my father, which has served me well in business, is patience. Many of the great companies of today (Intel, HP, Microsoft) took several years to obtain a foothold and position themselves for long-term growth. However, in the recent dot-com boom, many companies lost sight of having patience and three years became a long time horizon for building a company. Many of those companies no longer exist.
Along with patience, my father taught me to keep perspective, have a longer-term view and to have faith in a value system, in particular to focus on long-term returns. Focus on the longer-term view requires a constant vigil on the business and balancing revenues with growth. For a small company, this is particularly difficult. At Vanu, we strive to maintain a focus on the bigger picture over a period of time, balanced with the need for short-term revenues to put the company on firm footing for sustainable long-term growth. I firmly believe that this is a discipline, which will serve my company well in the later years.
My father successfully built the Bose Corporation over the years by establishing a reputation for the highest quality products and by maintaining substantial investment in R&D. The Bose Corporation has a more serious commitment to long term R&D than any company I have ever known.
By way of example, their recently announced automobile suspension system is the result of an on-going 24-year research project. In fact, I remember seeing the first diagrams and equations on pads of paper on our kitchen table in 1981.
The Bose Corporation has grown to $1.7 billion in sales today. This phenomenal success required a steadfast commitment to new technology development in the face of economic cycles, technology fads and market swings. Having seen the Bose Corporation when it was smaller than my company has provided a valuable perspective on growth and time. While funding R&D in an early stage company is difficult, we do maintain a small research effort.
As a friend at a well-funded startup once told me, “Companies will find ways to spend money if it is around. Making profit is a habit that some companies develop and others never do.”
On a more tactical level, my father explained to me how essential it is to have an excellent assistant and to learn to delegate responsibilities in order to enable me to accomplish more. He pointed out that some employees in his own company had not learned to delegate enough responsibility to their assistants, and how it limited what they were able to accomplish.
These lessons, on both strategic and tactical level, have been extremely valuable to me as an entrepreneur building a company, and probably far more practical and valuable education than I would have received in business school.