Legends awards bestowed on 3 entrepreneurs.
By Scott Preston
VIENNA, VA: The Washington, DC, chapter of The Indus Entrepreneurs recognized three prominent Indian American entrepreneurs with the Legends Awards on Friday night.
Entrepreneurs Ken Bajaj, Frank Islam and Sharad Tak were honored at the chapter’s annual gala held at The Barn at Wolf Trap here for their the career accomplishments and services.
Bajaj has founded a number of highly successful companies. One of them, the web design and ecommerce integration firm AppNet became fourth largest interactive media services company in the United States. It was sold to Commerce One in 2000 for $2 billion.
Prior to that, he partnered with his wife, Kavelle, to found I-Net in 1988, which was sold to Wang Laboratories in 1996.
Bajaj could not attend the award ceremony, as he was traveling. Kavelle accepted the award on his behalf.
“Ken came here as a very poor immigrant—he had nothing but dreams,” said she said of her husband. “He worked hard for all he achieved in his life. And, he did believe in giving back and doing justice. He believes strongly, as do I, that America is the greatest country in the world — one that is fair and gives people the absolute opportunity to do things with honesty and integrity, and work hard and you will achieve your dreams. That has been his motto.”
Islam built the QSS Group, which he founded in 1994 with a single employee, to a $300 million company. He sold the firm to Perot System in 2007. The Azamgarh-born entrepreneur is also a well-known Democratic donor and civic leader.
“This [award] is extra special for two reasons. First because [of] my personal commitment to TiE,” Islam said. “Second because of the other two honoreers who are receiving award here tonight. [Bajaj and Tak] are indeed legendary entrepreneurs and I am proud to have my name connected with theirs.”
Islam also had a piece of advice to the young entrepreneurs: “That is — make it your journey. Be the best you can be. Stay true to you. Never, ever give up. Write your own legacy. Be a lifelong learner. And do something special for someone in particular.”
Tak has founded and built a number of very successful companies, among them, Systems and Applied Sciences Corporation (SASC), STX Corporation, Tak Communications and E-Com Systems.
Tak, an IIT Bombay graduate, praised the entrepreneurial spirit of the Indian American community. “My earnest hope today is… we can pass it on to our children, our grandchildren and great grandchildren, and I hope that they can have the same [entrepreneurial] spirit,” he said. “Let us make sure that the next generations continue the good work that our hard work.”
A number of prominent Indian American entrepreneurs attended the gala, including Ranvir Trehan, a past Legends awardee; Sudhakar Shenoy, chairman and CEO of IMC, Inc.; and Aneesh Chopra, who served as the first Chief Technology Officer of the United States.
“You saw three brilliant leaders demonstrating the art of the possible and inspiring a whole new generation to pursue entrepreneurship and innovation in our great country,” Chopra told The American Bazaar.
Trehan, who has known all the three awardees personally for decades, had high praise for each. “Sharad Tak simply is the first entrepreneur of the community in this area,” he said. “What [Bajaj] showed was the conversion from a high-level corporate vice president in a very successful company to an entrepreneur, then to an entrepreneur in e-commerce and then taking a company public. He did things serially in the IT domain, but still successfully.”
Similarly, he also had great things to say about Islam. “[Islam] put together a great company… He and I collaborated on some contracts—we were partners. So we got to know each other, got to be fond of each other and respect each other. And then I have seen him grow from there into philanthropy, and into art, cultural, policy [areas].”