40 over 40: Pranav Ramanathan relishes being his own boss

A “complete and utter failure” is how Pranav Ramanathan describes his first entrepreneurial effort. That was almost 30 years ago, when he rounded up neighborhood kids in Bangalore, India to be part of a cricket club. After collecting money to buy equipment and hire a coach, “there was sort of a mutiny, and I was kicked out,” laughs Ramanathan. “Clearly my management skills weren’t refined enough to manage people in the group, but I will give myself credit for initiating it.”

I am fine with the risk and reward of an entrepreneur’s life. I get to make the calls, and I get to do exactly what I want to do. Being my own boss is probably the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.

Today, the 40-year-old entrepreneur and father of two young daughters is on a high after making it to a 6 a.m. outdoor boot camp. (“The hardest part,” he says, “is actually getting to the boot camp.”) Based out of Chicago’s WeWork River North, Ramanathan is managing director of Coacharya, an award-winning coaching and mentoring business his father started in Asia, which he helped build out in the U.S. after graduate school. “Before this, I spent 15 years in corporate marketing and digital strategy,” he says. “I was good enough at what I did that it was fine to earn a living, but I wasn’t necessarily fulfilled.” In his spare time, Ramanathan is heavily involved in philanthropic projects, such as the nonprofits FWD.us and Upwardly Global, both of which focus on new immigrants. “I’m a first-generation immigrant myself and know that situation well.”

Photos: Pretty Instant

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