Driven By Pressure: Suresh Shankar at TEDx Huawei

Published April 7, 2021   |   

The story of Crayon Data and founder and CEO Suresh Shankar’s journey as a two-time entrepreneur is one of pressure and persistence.  On April 7, he was invited to share his experiences at Huawei’s 2021 TEDx Conference: Driven By Pressure.  

Woven into a tale of four phone calls, Suresh began his talk by recounting the moment he decided to start RedPill Analytics, his first venture, back in 2000. He had quit a cushy corporate job  to join a new startup at the height of the dot com boom, only to receive a phone call  that told him that it was not even launching. Turning accident into ambition, he leapt to set up RedPill.  

After riding the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, it became the #1 analytics firm and kept growing. In October 2009, Suresh made a phone call, announcing to the world that IBM was acquiring RedPill. It was every entrepreneur’s dream: he had started something, nurtured it to prominence, and exited to the biggest global leader in technology.  

In 2012, Suresh left IBM to start Crayon Data,: a big data and AI firm with a bold vision to simplify the world’s choices. With a firm belief that algorithms need to serve consumers and not big tech, Crayon has sought to turn the misery of choosing into the magic of choice. Over the years, we built and rebuilt our flagship platform,, and signed large global clients. In 2017, the world’s best airline chose to back Crayon’s vision with a multi-year contract.  

Then, in December 2018, just as Crayon was about to launch the world’s first truly personalized travel experience for 100s of millions of customers, Suresh received his third phone call. The client had put the biggest AI-led transformation deal in the airline industry on pause. Crayons responded magnificently and set even more ambitious goals. Since that moment, the company has survived and thrived.  

Suresh ended his speech with three learnings on how to be driven by pressure.  

1. Character is destiny. Your reaction to a situation reveals who you are.  

2. The importance of detachment. Obsesses over the actions that you can control, detach from the outcomes that you cannot.  

3. Persistence yields reward. The Chinese bamboo tree shows us the power of persistence. Just like the story of entrepreneurship, one year, the tree will sprout.  

As for the fourth phone call, it will come. We know it.