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Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship

Indian Radio Innovator Honored as Entrepreneur of the Year

2009 Entrepreneur of the Year A.P. “Preetham” Parigi and his wife,
Vrinda, at the celebration.
Indian Radio Innovator Honored as Entrepreneur of the Year

In April, A.P. “Preetham” Parigi, managing director of Entertainment Network (India) Limited (ENIL), and managing director and CEO of Times Infotainment Media Limited, traveled halfway around the world to accept the 2009 William F. Glaser ’53 Rensselaer Entrepreneur of the Year Award at a celebration in EMPAC.

Sponsored by the Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship and the Lally School of Management & Technology, the award recognizes Parigi’s vision, commitment, and compassion in transforming ENIL’s Radio Mirchi, once a small player in a heavily regulated industry, into India’s largest private FM radio network in just seven years. According to David Gautschi, dean of the Lally School, “Radio Mirchi’s renaissance is one of the clearest examples of corporate entrepreneurship.”

Radio was a ubiquitous, but ignored, technology at the time of Radio Mirchi’s launch. State radio covered 98 percent of India in 2000 when the industry was privatized, but it ignored the 600 million Indians under the age of 30. “This was a great challenge and a great opportunity,” Parigi noted. “A challenge because we realized it would take us years to achieve that kind of geographical coverage. An opportunity because the emerging demographics represented an enormous, and unsatisfied niche that we not only could fill, but immediately connect with the Indian youth and their aspirations.”

Using bold branding, customized content, and innovative programming, Parigi guided Radio Mirchi’s meteoric rise from four markets to become India’s hottest radio network. Today, Radio Mirchi reaches more than 200 million listeners, in 32 cities and in 10 languages. Radio Mirchi’s parent company, TIML, expanded its international presence in 2008 when it purchased U.K. radio giant Virgin Radio.

“Radio Mirchi illustrates the specific transformation of India into the modern world—integrating the rural, non-money-based economy into the expanding money economy of the growth areas, principally in the major cities—using an ignored technology, radio,” says Gautschi.

Parigi joins past recipients who include Fred Smith, chairman, president, and CEO of FedEx Corporation; James Crowe ’72, CEO of Level 3 Communications; and Tom LeFevre ’71, co-founder of Intuit. In addition to a multimedia presentation on Radio Mirchi and Parigi, the April celebration featured a panel discussion with Parigi and several members of Rensselaer’s entrepreneurial community, including Michael Miller ’79, senior vice president for technology strategy at Ziff Brothers Investments and formerly editor-in-chief of PC Magazine; Tobi Saulnier ’84, founder and chief executive officer of 1st Playable Productions; and Vikram Agrawal ’02, chief executive officer of Etransmedia Technology Inc.

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Rensselaer (ISSN 0898-1442) is published in Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter by the Office of Strategic Communications and External Relations, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180-3590. Opinions expressed in these pages do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or the policies of the Institute. ©2009 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.