Images courtesy of S. Anil Kumar
In 2009, S. Anil Kumar, ’09, founded Jodi365.com, which he describes as “a hybrid of matrimonial sites and dating apps, for quality Indian singles.” With a pre-Booth PhD in computational hydrodynamics, Kumar has had varied experience as an entrepreneur, angel investor, consulting engineer, researcher, code developer, and activist. Here, he talks about his inspirations at both work and play.
Not being able to keep the mind still enough to sit through books may be an entrepreneur’s occupational hazard. But personal growth and lifelong learning are important to me, and I get by with curated online reading. Twitter is my fire hose—I follow select entrepreneurs, coaches, social psychologists, and publications such as Quillette, Aeon, and Brain Pickings. Their engaging posts often lead me down rabbit holes of enriching reads.
I come from a multicultural home: my mother is a Sindhi from Karachi, while my father is a Tamil Brahmin from Kerala. They met in Kolkata and moved around the country before settling down in Chennai, my hometown. So I grew up appreciating both north and south Indian food, including assorted regional cuisines.
I turned vegan over 25 years ago. It was challenging at times, in social situations and while on the road. Still, it was lovely to spend two decades in the melting pot that is the US and routinely enjoy vegan dishes from different cuisines—Thai, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Ethiopian, among others.
The restaurant scene in Chennai has become very eclectic over the years. In recent weeks, I’ve enjoyed delicious meals at Pumpkin Tales, Amethyst, and the new beachside restaurant Svah. I have a go-to vegan baker, Wholesome Rhapsody, and definitely don’t miss out on the decadent stuff. Even traditional sweetshops offer dairy-free versions of barfis and laddoos.
“In my 20s, I would often wish that I had seen more of India while growing up. So I consider myself fortunate that my career path brought me back to India.”
I have fond memories of many road trips across the US. They include a 25-day, 7,000-mile loop from Chicago to the northwest through Grand Teton and Yellowstone, then down the scenic West Coast, and then back through Sedona, the Grand Canyon, and Mesa Verde.
In my 20s, I would often wish that I had seen more of India while growing up. So I consider myself fortunate that my career path brought me back to India. Also, that despite the pressures of running a business, I got to vacation in Pondicherry, Bangkok, the Philippines, Turkey, Bali, Agra, and Goa in the past 5 years.
People have their toys. I have my apps. I switched off notifications for Product Hunt, an app to share and discover new products, so that I could stay focused on my own product. But I often indulge in making bets on web and mobile app deals through AppSumo. App icons that hog prime real estate on my Android phone include: Covve for networking, HelpCrunch for customer development, Flowlu for project management, Chanty for team chats, UrbanYogi for meditation, and Kindle, to engage in “tsundokindle.”
I enjoy creative writing—blog posts and random musings—particularly on Sunday mornings, when I’m at my most relaxed. Free exercises and light yoga help to keep me fit.
I also like playing Blitz chess online. It’s my canary in the coal mine—if I get thumped, I know I should take a break from work; if I manage to avoid blunders, I tell myself that I can’t be that tired and soldier on at work.
What I find most energizing, though, is phone conversations with friends, and I always look forward to reconnecting with more of them.
—As told to Madhur Singh