The Inventor, the Entrepreneur, and the CEO

Sri's Blog

The Inventor, the Entrepreneur, and the CEO

Sridhar Deivasigamani

Intellihot was officially founded in my basement in 2006. For the first few years, we were essentially a research and development company; our goal was simply to figure out how to make our concept work. In 2008, after many experiments—and a few explosions!—we finally had a working prototype, but it was far from market-ready. Siva and I knew, in order to take this into the next phase, we would to need to put in more than evenings and weekends. We needed to quit our jobs at Caterpillar and pursue Intellihot full time.
This was not the most obvious or logical choice to make. Siva had just had a child, and I had one on the way; we were leaving good, well-paying jobs, and Siva was even up for a promotion. But we knew we had something worth pursuing, so, in 2009, we officially left our jobs at Caterpillar and embarked full steam ahead on Intellihot.
It was apparent from day one that running an actual company, producing an actual product, was far more work than just being an inventor. Being an entrepreneur isn’t for the faint of heart; there is so much to accomplish: having the right product, going to market, raising money, not running out of money, finding the right talent, retaining them, and, most importantly, proving to yourself that this journey you started isn’t in vain.
Siva and I knew we had a challenging engineering problem, but we hadn’t really thought through how, in order to solve that problem, we would need to be supported by adequate funds and facilities, and personnel. Our journey to obtain all these assets was very unorthodox—and I look forward to sharing it all with you in my book!

For our first several years as entrepreneurs, Siva and I did not take any salary or pay. We worked for free—and we worked seven days a week, 14 or 15 hours a day. But we loved what we were doing so much, we didn’t even notice how much we were working. We had blazing energy flowing through us, like an electric current.

Eventually, we needed to formalize the structure of our company; in other words, we needed a CEO. One of my skill sets is thinking about the big picture and the overall project plan, and I thought this might make me a good fit for CEO—but I did not want to simply declare this so. I wanted to approach the role the way Abraham Lincoln approached running for president: when he was campaigning, he wouldn’t say, “Elect me.” Instead, he would say, “May I have your permission to govern you?” So, I approached Siva and said, “Siva, may I have your permission to be the CEO or President?” Siva agreed—and with his permission, I officially became CEO of Intellihot.

Meanwhile, we both had other obligations in our lives. I knew I needed to find a balance in which I could devote myself both to Intellihot and to my family. When my child was born, I made sure to establish a schedule where I could do everything I needed to do as both an entrepreneur and as a father.
In truth, there is only one thing that made this balance possible: passion. When you turn your hobby, your passion, into your job, balance becomes easy. If you want to start a business and be an entrepreneur, don’t do it for the money. Do it because you are passionate about it. Passion is what keeps you from getting bored or burnt out. When you turn your passion into a business, the old cliché becomes true: do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.