As part of a regular series, Global Skills Hub asks technologists around the world to share their motivations, successes, and the reason why they have chosen a path to Canada.
Born and raised in Bhubaneswar, India, Jipy Mohanty jumped at the chance to move to the US right after his undergrad to pursue a Master of Science in Computer Engineering from George Washington University. After his degree, working at an Austin based startup called Biometric Access, Jipy scaled the fraud detection and prevention product used across 5000 retail locations across North America. They were acquired one year later and Jipy quickly moved on to an Engineering Lead position at Lowe’s where he led a team from the initial architecture to scaling of lowes.com to $7 billion in revenue.
After building and scaling multiple products at Lowe’s, Jipy took a new path and crossed the Atlantic to pursue his MBA at Oxford. Since finishing the program, Jipy has become a highly sought after Head of Product and a CTO for two venture-backed startups, and he currently leads product at an AI-powered marketing automation startup in Bangalore, India.
Why complete both an MS in Computer Engineering and an MBA?
After my undergrad in Computer Science and Engineering, I had planned for a career in academic research. I had planned to continue with a PhD and build supercomputers. The deeper I got into academia, the more disenchanted I became with this life plan.
And why the MBA? Well as an engineer, you become very good at building things. But after a while, I realized I knew very little about how humans work. The motivation to reach for an MBA was a deep interest to learn psychology, economics, finance, and sociology. I wanted to understand how the world works around me.
What has been your greatest achievement in your entrepreneurial career?
Back in 2015, I designed, engineered, and scaled a food-tech platform in India. As the CTO for the company, I grew the team to 20 people in a year and a half and grew our revenue 45x over the course of one year. We were catering to Indian customers who were looking for fresh and hot meals on demand without having to think about too many options.
“Canada is welcoming and diverse – we want that sense of belonging. This is an exciting time to be part of the tech ecosystem across the country.”
In terms of complexity, think of geo-matching customers to real-time inventory out of 20 warehouses with the predictability and reliability of delivery similar to UberEATS. This was an interesting (and anti-pattern) design challenge as well. How do you design for e-commerce where the goal is to minimize browse time to create efficiency and time savings for customers? This is in contrast to other e-commerce sites where their goal is to increase browse time and cart value.
Who is your biggest motivator?
At the outset of my MBA, and honestly only for a split second, I thought maybe I would become a banker or a consultant – traditional path for a lot of MBAs. But about a month into the program, Elon Musk came to speak at Oxford. Model S had yet to ship. I knew him just as an ex-PayPal founder.
As he started his talk, my initial thoughts were, ‘this guy can’t even speak properly, why am I even here,’ given how slowly he speaks and how many pauses he takes. Elon spoke of his journey, his struggles, motivations, and, most importantly, his failures. I have since been fortunate to come across many tech entrepreneurs, but the sheer audacity of Elon’s ambitions for a better world continues to inspire.
What do you wish you had known earlier on in your career?
I wish I had realized earlier how important it is to have a mentor and coach. It was instinctive to default to one’s reporting manager for this role and it has worked out reasonably well on several occasions, but a true mentor and coach can push you ahead by a factor of years.
As an entrepreneur and in the startup community, you have to seek those relationships outside your company, across different sectors and functions. Find the individuals that will offer you diversity of thought and build relationships with them. Entrepreneurs have goals and missions in life that are big and can seem daunting. How do you navigate this? How do work through the ups and downs? How do you stay focused? Mentorship is everything.
Have you been a mentor or given back to the tech community?
Being in the startup world, you feel connected to the community on an emotional level. At every step of the journey, you receive help from somebody in some capacity. And, naturally, you say ‘how can I help’?
During my time in San Francisco, I was a part of two co-working spaces where I mentored early-stage startups and judged various pitch competitions. Back in Bangalore, I was part of a ‘bootstrapper breakfast series’ where founders of bootstrapped SaaS startups would come together and discuss challenges and opportunities. I am currently advising two early-stage startups, a SaaS and a consumer product business.
Why have you chosen to make a move to Canada?
My wife and I have been having some hard conservations over the past year about going back to the US. We decided that the US, culturally and politically, is not the place anymore for us to raise our family and build a life.
Canada is welcoming and diverse – we want that sense of belonging. Over the past decade or so, there has always been a neighbour, classmate, co-worker, or friend who has prodded us to consider moving to Canada. We had offhandedly dismissed those saying that there wasn’t much happening in tech in Canada. That couldn’t be any farther from the truth today.
This is an exciting time to be part of the quickly evolving and already significant tech ecosystem across the country. We are all looking forward to getting to know the culture, the beautiful physical environment, and most importantly, the people.
Jipy Mohanty is part of the Global Skills Hub talent pipeline and is currently looking for his next opportunity. Email email@example.com to connect with them.