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The MK Stalin-led DMK government in Tamil Nadu has appointed alleged scamster Vijay Anand as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of i-Tamil Nadu Technology (iTNT) hub, a government centre that seeks to coordinate use of technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning in governance.
Minister for Information Technology & Digital Services Mano Thangaraj took to his social media to announce the appointment of Vijay Anand who according to reports has been accused of being a fraudster with no credentials and credibility.
Who Is Vijay Anand?
Vijay Anand, who identifies himself as “The Startup Guy” claims himself to be a “serial entrepreneur”, “angel investor” and “visionary software engineer” who started and sold several companies since his student days.
His claims have been parroted by several media outlets portraying him as a ‘successful entrepreneur’. As soon as the announcement of Vijay’s appointment came, a journalist from The Hindu noted Vijay as someone who “has been quite active in the startup circles since early 2000 and has hand holded many startups in TN”.
According to Crunch Base, Vijay Anand is the founder of Proto.in which is said to be a start-up event platform that connects start-ups with potential investors, customers and other entrepreneurs.
He has also been mentioned as a “mentor to various early stage companies” and apparently heads the Incubation Centre based out of the Indian Institute of Technology Madras which focuses in businesses for the Emerging and Rural Markets (www.rtbi.in). He is also noted as associated with Ventureast Fund Advisors – an Indian Venture Capital Firm.
However, a report by Inc42 which covers startup-related news has exposed Vijay’s self-proclaimed achievements.
Founded Companies In Thin Air?
Vijay Anand claims to have founded and sold three companies – 2 in India (CompuWorld Software Solutions and NullScape Softwares) and 1 in Canada (LeadStep Technologies).
However, there has been no trace of the company Nullscape Softwares either in the internet or with the Registrar of Companies.
“As far as one can tell, there was never any company with this name that had any sort of formal operations.” the report by Inc42 notes.
The other company Vijay claims to have founded in India is CompuWorld Software Solution which too has no trace in the digital world as well as with the Registrar of Companies. However the report by Inc42 mentions it to be a small Coimbatore-based entity which sells computers but even then Vijay’s name doesn’t feature in any of the pages associated with that company.
The other company that Vijay claims to have founded in Canada is LeadStep Technologies Inc which apparently he sold to Nokia in 2006 before returning to India.
However, this claim has also been disputed as there is no such company listed by Nokia in its acquisitions.
“This supposed company seems to have never had a presence of any kind on the web – no website, no email, no customers, no users, no employees.”, the Inc42 report notes.
But unlike the previous two companies, this LeadStep Technologies Inc exists in the Canada Company Directory (the Canada equivalent of Registrar of Companies). According to the Canada Company Directory, this company in which Vijay Anand has been mentioned as a Director was dissolved under Section 210 of the Canada Business Corporations Act on 11 December 2006.
Filing for dissolution under Section 210 means that it was a company with no property or liabilities or even issued any shares. So, in all proabability this company was a shell company that seems to have existed only on paper and never had any operations as the company never filed any returns.
Angel Investor Or Scamster?
Vijay claims himself to be an ‘angel investor’ but he is reportedly an investor in just one company named ‘Eventifier’ which too is part of his Startup Center, that he currently runs.
According to Zauba Corp, Vijay Anand is the Managing Director of one ‘Startup Centre and Management Private Limited’ which was incorporated in April 2011. The website of The Starup Centre has just one page claiming to mentor entrepreneurs, offer workspaces for a rate, and oganize events/workshops/webinars for entrepreneurs.
There is a link to an inactive Facebook page with no branding created on 23 April 2010 given at the end of this webpage.
According to the Inc42 report, there are at least three cases where startups had approached him for funding and instead of investing money, Vijay ended up taking money from them promising investor and customer connects.
“In one case, he also took equity from the company in the form of sweat for services that he promised to perform. As it turned out, the company found him out and didn’t actually give him any equity. The other companies simply wrote off the money that Vijay took from them”, the report by Inc42 notes.
Also, none of the companies that have gone through his “The Startup Centre” has raised Series A funding, except one company (Eventifier) in which he himself is the investor!
Software Engineer Or Another KRS?
Vijay Anand claims to have completed his Bachelor of Engineering from University of Ottawa. But the truth of the matter is that Vijay never actually graduated from there.
“He flunked out of college and was basically shown the door.”, the report by Inc42 notes.
Vijay Anand basically seems to be following the trope of Kannabiran Ravishankar (KRS) who has been accused of faking his Ph.D credentials from UC Berkeley.
The Charges Against Vijay Anand
From stealing ideas to swindling money, many in the startup circles accuse Vijay Anand of a volley of charges. He reportedly held a job at IIT Madras but was unceremoniously shown the door after the management came to know about his true colours.
Vijay Anand’s oft repeated mantra is “You are the product”. The cover picture on his Facebook page says “You are the product. Every venture, space, experience, is just about adding a feature & making you (hopefully) better. A better you, is the end goal”. He seems to have become precisely that by positioning himself as the product.
As described by Inc42, Vijay Anand is the “Paris Hilton of Indian Startups” – he is “famous for being famous” who has through a carefully-constructed tissue of lies and half-truths positioned himself as a tour de force in the Indian startup ecosystem.
It is this guy who the DMK government had appointed as a ‘Committee Member’ of Advisory Council (Technology) a year ago and is now set to lead one of the important government bodies.
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