‘Entrepreneurship changed my wiring as a person’: Viraj Tyagi
As part of a group of problem-solvers and responsible builders of ecosystems, Viraj Tyagi, an alumnus of the PGP Class of 1993 and current CEO of eGOV Foundation, talks about life as an enabler of change.
Please tell us something about your background and the initial phase of your career…
I was born in Nepal, and grew up in Delhi, Dehradun and Itanagar. After graduating from IIMB in 1993, the first part of my career was in payments and I spent eight years with American Express in the UK, leading their cards business. We decided to come back to India in 2004 and in 2007, the start-up bug bit me. Along with Nitin Gupta (PGP 1998, IIMB), I co-founded NettPositive Analytics, one of India’s first start-ups in Big Data and Analytics. After 15 years in the corporate world, running a start-up was a crazy experience. At the same time, it was a period of immense growth and learning for me. In 2015, we got acquired by Equifax Inc and I exited NettPositive. In 2016, I began a new innings in what had always been close to my heart: nation-building. I took on the role of CEO at eGov Foundation (eGov), a non-profit founded by Nandan Nilekani in 2003. eGov Foundation is on a mission to ‘Solve for Billion Indians’ by building Open Platforms and products that offer accessible and transparent public services to ordinary citizens on a national scale. If you have got a COVID vaccination certificate or paid your municipal tax online, you have been touched by one of eGov’s platforms. We currently work with 14 states and over 2000 cities and 5000-plus villages in India. More than 250 million citizens have benefited from our work. DIGIT (Digital Infrastructure for Governance, Impact and Transformation), our open-source tech stack, is one of the largest Open Gov Tech Platforms in the world. This is, by far, the hardest job I have ever had in my career, which boosts my confidence level. In addition to my professional work, I continue to invest in start-ups and mentor the founders.
What is eGov Foundation and what does it do?
eGov was founded in 2003 as a collective of technologists, strategists and policy professionals committed to solving societal challenges. We are problem-solvers and responsible builders of communities and ecosystems, motivated by a sense of responsibility for making countries better, and the thrill of finding solutions that can improve lives. We work on three strategic pillars: public digital platforms, enabling policies and open ecosystems. We believe that technology is only an enabler. To have a sustainable impact at scale, we tap into the collective energy of the ecosystem to enact enabling policies, understand local needs and build local capacity to solve local problems. We work with different stakeholders in the ecosystem to catalyze this collective energy. Our impact framework is based on the contribution of digital public infrastructure to transform the experience of living and working for each stakeholder. We have built public digital platforms across Urban, Sanitation, Public Finance Management and Health.Read more