Mahesh Murthy has spent 28 years helping big brands with marketing and branding input, and 12 years helping startups with that – and funding too. 18 of these years have been digital-intensive. Mahesh dropped out of college, sold vacuum cleaners door to door, worked with Grey in India and then Ogilvy in Hong Kong, where he won notoriety and awards as Creative Director on Unilever, The Economist, Pepsi and MTV – for whom he made a spot voted “Asia’s best commercial of the decade”. He then moved to a Silicon Valley agency, CKS Partners as CD, GM & Partner, where he helped create the first commercial UI for Yahoo in 1995 and the now-classic Earth’s Biggest Bookstore campaign for Amazon in 1997. After a successful NASDAQ IPO, Mahesh moved to head marketing at iCat, an e-com firm in Seattle later bought by Intel.
He returned to India in 1999 to run and turn around Channel V, a rival to MTV, till its sale to Newscorp in 2000, then founded Passionfund to invest in startups. His investees include Geodesic, WebDunia, EBS Worldwide, Inkfruit and Doolally. Mahesh has penned reasonably infamous columns in Business Today, Businessworld, Tehelka and WSJ. On TV, he’s played the Donald Trump-like role in Business Baazigar in 2007, and the Dragon’s Den-like role on ETNow’s SuperAngels in 2011.In 2004, Mahesh found a need for a tech-driven, digital-first brand management firm – and set up Pinstorm. With over 100 people across offices in India, Singapore & Malaysia, it is now among South Asia’s leading digital brand management firms, creating award-winning work on the region’s largest telecom, banking, FMCG and retail brands. Mahesh has a passion for early-stage investing and teamed with Pravin Gandhi and Bharati Jacob in 2006 to set up Seedfund, voted India’s best VC fund in 2010. Seedfund has over 22 investees including Carwale, RedBus, AFAQs, Vaatsalya and Edusports.