In 1997, Hari Ravichandran was a student at California’s Stanford University who had a dream of opening his own business. Seeing the successes of other online startups based in the area, he decided the time had come.
He named his web host BizLand, as it was aimed at small businesses that wanted to establish their presence on the burgeoning World Wide Web. BizLand soon took off and within a year, the company was so successful that he was seriously considering retirement.
However, 1998 was the end of the Dot Com Bubble, and like many other tech startups at the time, BizLand suffered significant losses. Instead of returning to Stanford to finish his degree after dropping out, he decided to endure. BizLand switched to a monthly subscription service to ensure continuing revenue.
The gamble paid off and, appropriately, the company was later renamed The Endurance International Group, which has since become a multinational corporation whose worth has been estimated to be in the area of three billion Pounds Sterling.
When Hari Ravichandran left Endurance, he again would have had enough money with which to retire comfortably. However, a 2014 incident inspired him to create another business.
After being denied a home loan despite an excellent credit score, Ravichandran soon discovered that his identity had been stolen and used to make fraudulent purchases. In response, he created a new company called Aura, which aims to provide cybersecurity solutions to prevent identity theft and save others from suffering the embarrassment he felt when his application was rejected due to fraud.
The company’s success is partially due to its revolutionary approach which uses AI to help consumers with identity protection. Ravichandran saw the potential destructive capabilities of AI, like asking ChatGPT or Bing AI to write programming code for inexperienced hackers.
However, he also recognized that the best way to counter malicious AI is with AI itself. As he wrote in a Forbes Technology Council article, “It is important for business leaders to recognize the potential dangers and benefits of using AI in cybersecurity and consider the ethical implications of implementing AI-based solutions. While it is crucial to be vigilant against the weaponized use of AI, it is equally — if not more — important to recognize the potential of AI to improve cybersecurity and benefit society as a whole.”
In the article, he also gives five examples of using “Good AI” to counter “bad AI”, including pattern recognition to automate responses and analyze large amounts of data, continuous monitoring for faster response times and implementing preventative measures, lowering the number of false positives that human analysts could be prone to, improving access control measures to stop hackers from accessing sensitive data, and identifying potential insider threats to prevent disgruntled employees from using their knowledge to compromise company systems.
Just like BizLand, Aura went from a small startup to an international corporation worth billions. Between the two, however, was a third enterprise created by Ravichandran: Jump Ventures. Jump is a venture capital firm that works to empower potential entrepreneurs to fulfill their dreams.
The company was founded near Boston, Massachusetts, just a few months before Aura and has gone on to provide millions of dollars in private equity to future CEOs, allowing them to fund their dreams and one day possibly even follow in Ravichandran’s footsteps as creator of multiple Unicorns, a privately held startup that reaches a valuation of over $1 billion, so named due to their rarity like the mythological creature.
He is also a noted philanthropist, with the Ravichandran Foundation donating millions of dollars every year to the CURE Epilepsy Foundation, Artists for Peace and Justice, and Akshaya Patra, an India-based charity that provides meals to children, elders, and the less fortunate, as well as many other causes in the Boston area.
Despite being listed on Forbes Top CEOs Under 40 twice and being listed on over 40 technology-related patents, he remains humble, writing on his LinkedIn page “At my core, I am a builder. I love to build technology-enabled businesses that solve problems for others. I have had the good fortune to start early, make many many many mistakes, learn from them, and continue to build.”
After creating two unicorns and a private equity firm, Hari Ravichandran has accomplished much in the past 25 years. Is another startup on the horizon? Although no one knows for sure, perhaps not even Ravichandran himself, it is safe to assume that Aura and Jump Ventures will continue to shape the future of the world.