Vinod Gupta has always remembered his humble beginnings in a small town in India, where he learned the lessons that would ultimately lead him to great successes within the business world. The self-made multi millionaire attended school in a small village about one hundred miles north of New Delhi, and was ultimately accepted to the Indian Institutes of Technology, where he focused his studies within the realm of agricultural engineering. He headed to the US to receive his Master’s degree in agricultural engineering, and business, at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.
Much like his fellow graduates, he went on to work for an established company, Commodore Corporation post-matriculation. As a marketing research analyst for the mobile home manufacturer, Gupta’s duties included garnering a list of mobile home dealers within the US, to whom he could solicit manufactured products. After he recognized the non-existence of such an extensive and cohesive list, Gupta ordered all of the local phone books in print, and painstakingly compiled the lists himself. Much to the chagrin of his employer, Gupta discerned the value of his newly compiled list, and the hole in the marketplace for this type of product, and parlayed his list into a service based product, ideal for business-to-business communication on a national scale.
After he borrowed $100 from a local bank, Gupta created marketing mailers, which he sent out to everyone who would potentially benefit from his database services. Much to the disbelief of his naysayers, he immediately started to receive orders for his database, and his business took off. Gupta founded American Business Information in 1972, and the company quickly became the go-to source for businesses looking to expand their reach. Twenty years later, the company was valued at $500 million, when Gupta stood down from his role as Chief Executive. Reprising this role the following year, he renamed the company InfoUSA, which reflected the company’s amassing of nationwide databases, and national domination in the niche of database technology. With continued growth, and eventual worldwide interest, the company was renamed to InfoGroup to once again portray a reflection of its’ scope, and eventually sold in 2010 for $680 million.
Currently, Vinod Gupta acts as Managing General Partner for Everest Group, the single office company specializing in providing venture capital, private equity, and consulting services to failing businesses, and those centered around database technology. As MGP of the company, Gupta has been able to parlay his decades of operational experience into a service for underperforming companies, and has continued to build upon his successes within the business realm.
However, he has also diligently utilized the fruits of his successes for the benefit of others, and has devoted great resources to enriching the lives of thousands of individuals. Recognizing the life-changing benefits of education, Gupta has made it his mission to provide educational opportunities to those who would potentially struggle to have these opportunities otherwise. From building schools in impoverished parts of India, to establishing and funding ongoing courses at his alma mater, Gupta has facilitated educational advancements on a global scale. His driving force for continuous charitable efforts has always been the prospect of helping others, and the personal satisfaction in knowing that his wealth would directly benefit other people. When asked about his charitable endeavors publically, Gupta has always maintained that providing tangible opportunities to others has been a great motivation to him, and he considered himself fortunate enough to be able to aide others.
Wanting to give back to the community of his hometown of Rampur Maniharan, Gupta donated $1 million to the development of the Ram Rati Gupta Polytechnic. The women’s polytechnic school was established in 2000, and has enabled many women to earn postgraduate degrees in as little as 24 months. The creation of a technology driven institution focused on driving the success of independent women in India, the Polytechnic has offered areas of study within the fields of textile design, computer applications, information technology, and web design. Additionally, he has devoted funds to set up a girls’ school within his hometown village, and has provided everything from buses, to textbooks, in order to ensure the success of this school for young girls. Gupta has cited his physician father as the person responsible for instilling the value of education upon Gupta as a child, and thus, he has been thankful for the opportunity to garner an extensive education. Within India’s societal past, women were not presented with the same educational opportunities as young men, and thus, Gupta’s contribution to closing the educational gender gap within his local community was also a historically important step toward gender equality.
Prior to pursuing his postgraduate education at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, Vinod Gupta earned his Bachelor level degree at the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur. Upon amassing great business success and acumen, it was only natural that he wanted to enrich the legacy of his alma mater. Thus, Gupta donated $2 million to the creation of the namesake Vinod Gupta School of Management. As the only business school to be established under the IIT umbrella, the Vinod Gupta School of Management has enjoyed being touted as one of the top business schools within India, as well as the Asia-Pacific area. Founded in 1993, the school offered a traditional full-time MBA option, as well as options for working students, and a fast track toward a PhD program. Notably, the school featured its’ own massive library, as well as a central library available to all IIT students, making it the largest library in Asia. Additionally, the school has provided room and board to students, allowing the school to fit the needs of students who have traveled to attend their offered programs.
Within the umbrella of IIT, Gupta has also established the nationally ranking Rajiv Gandhi School of Intellectual Property Law. Established in 2006, the prestigious law school was set up in collaboration with George Washington University in Washington DC, and has enjoyed the benefits of partnership with a global leader within the realm of law education. As the first law school within the IIT umbrella, the Rajiv Gandhi School of Intellectual Property Law also enjoyed the distinction of being the first higher education center that specializes in intellectual property. With this modern and groundbreaking focus on intellectual property law, the school successfully bridged the gap between technology, law, and the evolving globalization of both aspects. After Gupta’s $2 million donation toward the establishment of the school, the sum was matched by the government of India, which allowed for the build out of a Grecian inspired building to house all courses. Through its’ affiliation with George Washington University, the school has enjoyed cohesive course planning, knowledge exchange, and interactions between students within both schools.
Of course, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln was not to be forgotten, and Gupta set up a $500,000 scholarship fund, aimed at providing financial aid for minority students seeking to enter the science, or engineering programs at his alma mater. Through the establishment of this scholarship, Gupta has been vocal about his desire to aid in the cost of studies for an individual who may have grown up in a similar environment as Gupta, with limited opportunities. Fueled once again by his own experiences within the inception phase of his American Business Information, Gupta donated a sum of $2 million, which was utilized in the creation of a curriculum for the University of Nebraska’s small business management program.
More recently, Gupta once again partnered with the George Washington University School of Business, as well as the US Department of State’s Office of the Global Partnership Initiative, to develop a monumental fellowship program in honor of his late son. The Benjamin Kane Gupta Fellows Program was created for the purpose of providing a wonderful internship opportunity for an MBA graduate student. The extensive internship, located within the Department of State, has allowed students to experience the nuances of working toward fostering private-public partnerships within the realm of business, and government policy. Thomas Debass, deputy special representative for global partnerships, has stated in the school’s official public statement, “we are deeply honored that the Gupta Family has launched this fellowship, which will provide the nation’s leading students with an opportunity to learn the art of partnership building.”
The following year, Gupta continued to honor his son’s legacy at George Washington University by creating the Ben Gupta Endowed Fund for International Legal Education. The $1 million endowed scholarship fund will provide ongoing financial support to students from developing countries who are pursuing the Juris Doctor, or LLM degree. This fund has provided students with the opportunity to further their education, and has been a great source of pride.
Within the span of the last two decades, Vinod Gupta has generously, and impactfully, donated over $50 million of his fortune to educational efforts, endeavors, and advancements. According to Gupta, wealth is not a source of happiness, and thus, he has never attributed his wealth to his personal satisfaction. On many occasions, Gupta has retained the stance that he has been just as fulfilled in life as a poor youth living with no electricity, and as a successful businessman. The secret, according to Gupta, lies within one’s ability to exist within the world, and create a positive impact upon it. For that reason, Gupta maintains confidence in his everlasting desire to pay it forward. With karmic understanding, he has always understood the opportunities he was given, and has vowed to dedicate his resources to providing similar opportunities to others.
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