Shoba Purushothaman

Shoba Purushothaman
Media (GOPIO International Women Entrepreneur Awards 2011)

Shoba Purushothaman is a Malaysian born entrepreneur who began her career in 1985 as a business journalist in KL, working for Malaysian Business, a magazine. This was her first job after graduating from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia with a BA in English Literature and Japanese Language.

In 1986, a year after she started at Malaysian Business, Shoba was selected to attend a business journalism fellowship in the U.S. which became a turning point for her journalism career as it led her to enroll in a Master’s programme in business communication at the American University in Washington D.C. in 1987.

She secured a full-time internship at the Wall Street Journal in Washington D.C. in 1988 and then went on to work as a journalist for the parent company, Dow Jones & Co. in New York and London after graduating. She covered a wide range of topics, stories and personalities during her nine years as a journalist in Asia, the U.S. and Europe.

Shoba decided to pursue a different path in 1994 and joined a friend of hers. Anthony Hayward, in his entrepreneurial venture as a partner. The media consultancy was based in London and in 1995, Shoba moved to Singapore to begin establishing the group's Asia Pacific operations. Between 1995 -1998, she set up offices in Singapore, KL, Hong Kong, and Melbourne for the group and grew its client base across the region. The company, called Bulletin International, allowed brands and organizations with newsworthy announcements and products to build their profiles via broadcast news. It acted as a consulting partner on strategy and also took care of the execution of video strategies.

In 1998, Shoba moved to New York to begin establishing a U.S. office for Bulletin. On arrival, she and her business partner Anthony were exposed to the wave of technology innovation occurring in the U.S. on the back of the Internet's rapid rise and began working on an idea to create a digital video distribution platform that used the Internet to deliver high bandwidth video, thereby circumventing the limitations on satellite-based video distribution. This second business was launched in 2000, and Shoba took on the role of CEO, based out of New York City.

Shoba led the business as its CEO from 2000-20069, successfully raising the capital of over $20 million from top tier international venture capital funds and building a global footprint for the business, The News Market.

A breakthrough in fund-rising occurred in late 2001 when Shoba participated in a business plan competition for women entrepreneurs organized by Springboard Enterprises (a non-profit that supports women entrepreneurs) that was held at Harvard Business School. She presented The News Market’s vision to a group of venture capitalists and successfully closed the company's first round of institutional capital of $3 million that enabled it to turn its beta product into a commercial platform.

Shoba's success at securing this funding amidst a highly negative market environment, and in the immediate aftermath of the uncertainty caused by the 9-11 terror attacks on New York became a case study and her fund-raising adventure was featured as the cover story of Inc. magazine, one of the leading business magazines in the U.S. in June 2002. The News Market later raised capital again in 2004 and 2005. In 2005, the company had multiple offers for funds and was able to negotiate from a position of strength with prospective venture capital investors.

Meanwhile, the first enterprise that Shoba helped build, Bulletin International, was successfully acquired by a public company in 2001 and is today part of the Ogilvy PR brand within the WPP Group plc.

In early 2009, The News Market acquired the incumbent player in traditional satellite-based news video distribution in the U.S. a NASDAQ-listed company that had been its main rival and took it private. At this milestone, Shoba handed over the CEO role and day-to-day management and began focusing on her next enterprise. Training Ventures (India), an enterprise focused on training young Indians in global business skills at a time when India is becoming a key part of the world economy.

Shoba is an advisor to several start-ups in the U.S. and Asia and is a participant in the U.S. State Department's Global Entrepreneurship Program that seeks to promote entrepreneurship in developing markets.