One day, Som Das learnt about me from somewhere and gave me a call. He said, let's meet. My standard ploy was to do meetings in restaurants to save the dining table from exposure. The only time he could meet was after 9 PM and did not want the formality of meeting in a restaurant. To my horror, he suggested we meet at my apartment as it was on his way to his Palo Alto home. I gave in. The agenda? Som wanted to know more about Wipro and how he could help. The meeting lasted 3 hours. When Som left at midnight, my wife and I were amazed at the commitment.
This meeting led to several doors opening and a lifetime of friendship. In all the years that followed, Wipro benefited from the angel like interest Som took without any expectations whatsoever. Many years after, when I left Wipro and Som left VLSI, we still kept in touch. Som left VLSI to join Walden, a $1 Billion venture capital firm from California that specialized in high-tech deals. Som persuaded Walden to set up an India fund and later hired Sudhir Sethi to head it. As our business plan progressed, I felt awkward to speak to either Som or Sudhir as it might look like I am taking advantage of a lifetime of relationship -- till the afternoon I made a presentation to their 40 odd potential investees at the Gateway Hotel in Bangalore. At the end of the presentation, I invited Som and Sudhir for lunch at home next day. It was at mysparsely furnished, temporary apartment in Bangalore where we were living out of suitcases, while waiting for my house to be built. Providence makes me meet Som always in such state. My wife Susmita has by now learnt to serve a meal with makeshift cutlery without apologies. As I got home that night, I asked KK whether we should shed our inhibition and make a pitch to Walden. He saw no harm and agreed to join for lunch.
Next day, before lunch was served, we made our presentation to Som on my dining table for the second time in our relationship. At the end of the pitch, Som and Sudhir agreed that it made sense to carry the discussion forward. We agreed to discuss the business plan with special emphasis on the financials. This led to at least two more serious, subsequent discussions with Sudhir. A meeting with Som was considered important and we figured out that it could be done whenever I visited US next. We agreed to wait.