A serial entrepreneur, sought-after speaker, and mentor for young entrepreneurs, Tel K. Ganesan single-handedly built a multi-million dollar IT company expanding it into an empire that now encompasses film, music, wellness, and more.
Ganesan’s enterprises include Kyyba, Inc., Kyyba Films, Kyyba Wellness, Kyyba Fashions, and Kyyba Music. He is the founder of two non-profits, including TieCon (Talent, Ideas, Enterprise) Detroit – the global organization behind TiECon, the world’s largest entrepreneurial conference – and Kyyba Kidz, dedicated to uplifting underprivileged women and orphans. Throughout every venture, his guiding principle centers on entrepreneurship as an effort to make people happy by solving their problems. And according to Ganesan, “Only a truly happy person can spread happiness to others.”
While happiness is an emotion-based state of being, Ganesan is not advocating building one’s business based solely on emotions. Instead, he maintains that healthy growth is balancing happiness with self-control. In this paradigm, decisions are made during moments of composure rather than in the adrenaline rush of initial excitement. To help guide the introspective process, Ganesan asks himself three key questions: Will this make me happy in the long run? Am I helping others through my activity or task? What would be the aftermath of my decision?
Ganesan’s success philosophy is less about immediate gratification than long-term satisfaction. And just because an opportunity passes the happiness test does not necessarily mean it will be easy to achieve. In Ganesan’s view, the yin and yang of business are balancing happiness with aspects like hard work, strategic planning, knowledge acquisition, and surrounding yourself with the right team. (Then, making sure to empower your team to derive happiness from the process, as well).
Following this approach, Ganesan finds a powerful rush in doing things that others are afraid to attempt. But striving to achieve difficult goals means that setbacks are bound to happen even when all elements are in order. Earlier in his career, Ganesan purchased a handful of companies without proper due diligence and experienced a financial tsunami when the 2008 recession hit. What did he do? He leaned into more of what made him happy, managing his responsibilities while continuing to pursue creative ventures. In every setback, there is a lesson or two. And each challenge taught Ganesan to seriously consider the “worst case scenario” before making big decisions. That way, he could plan for any unwanted outcome while working toward the most desirable.
Global Millionaire Magazine caught up with Tel to discuss his journey as an entrepreneur, and here’s what went down:
Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?
As a serial entrepreneur and movie producer, my closet is filled with many hats — all fun to wear. My journey started in the US when I came to pursue my master’s in mechanical engineering and landed at Chrysler in Motor City after that. With vast experience gained by working for over a decade, entrepreneurship stood as the guiding light.
At that point, it was a major life-changing decision to quit my well-paying job and secure life starting from scratch with me at the helm. I somehow managed to convince myself that the risk would pay off, and with all-encompassing enthusiasm, I dove head first into becoming my own boss. I took the initiative to invest in myself and all the knowledge, skills, and foresight learned from personal and professional teachings to kickstart the venture.
Kyyba Inc, a Michigan-headquartered IT company, became my launchpad with industry verticals in automotive, education, public services, financial services, aerospace and defense, insurance, transportation, technology, government, healthcare, and medical, manufacturing services, and oil and energy. Kyyba has newly adopted health and wellness through Kyyba Wellness and entertainment, giving way to Kyyba Films, a global film production, and distribution company. Portfolio expansion has grown my business to now having 700 employees plus working across the globe.
What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?
I love the quote, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” My businesses are highly diversified, and I believe that networking, upskilling, and keeping up with current trends and industry developments are essential to pack a punch. I consciously employ and surround myself with highly talented people to which I can help guide and empower them to own their lanes of expertise. This methodology allows less intervention round the clock and enables them to become better decision-makers.
I always emphasize the importance of networking, as it helps everyone to sprout new ideas, gain valuable insight, and analyze newer market trends. I make it a habit to evolve my contacts, submerge myself in new business circles, and travel to new places that help me to think differently and spark fresh ideas.
I am also a firm believer in maintaining a strict diet of primarily vegetarian/pescatarian and intermittent fasting, prioritizing meditation, and taking an East meets West approach to whole body health that combines the best of both worlds. Good thoughts and positivity attract blessings and catalyze the perfect body/mind/spirit connection.
What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?
I maintain a healthy mix of social media platforms to promote my brand and various businesses. Facebook owns a significant audience share and is best for promotion across geographies. Nothing outperforms LinkedIn when it comes to concentration on organic, professional connections. Twitter is quick, convenient, and gains faster reach, while our Instagram accounts are rapid-fire and often go viral. We have just begun integrating TikTok as Kyyba’s film, and music legs have taken off. Those audiences appreciate the fun factor and a less corporate feel to overall brand messaging.
What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?
When I started my business, much of our communication streamed through the formula funnel of emails, calls, and meetings. Today, our in-house team for traditional and digital lead generation is heavily vested in email outreach, web apps, mobile marketing, content marketing, ongoing SEO/SEM campaigns, and other proprietary tricks of the trade. Also, social media is a must for any business wanting to compete in today’s working environment. I am very proud of our well-equipped, global team who initiates and handles most of our necessary tasks online. However, we schedule in person when it’s time to close the deal. Hands down, my vote goes to digital marketing! Brand awareness (marketing + public relations + social media) = sales.
What is the most challenging decision you had to make in the last few months?
Heading a company requires a lot of ongoing, strategic decisions of risk/reward evaluation. One such important one of last was implementing a hybrid working model with flexible working hours. We at Kyyba have employees working worldwide in different time zones, continents, and capacities. Earlier in my ventures, we had fixed office hours and centralized operations with weekly meetings and team discussions.
While analyzing worldwide, the trend of great resignation was peaking globally, and it was essential for all entrepreneurs to retain solid talent. It is also important to change the organizational policy to be decentralized. We continued the meetings online, allocated tasks, and supported them remotely.
This paid off for Kyyba as we have now connected all our team members through cloud activity. This flexibility has led to better team spirit and motivated Kyyba members to achieve their goals. The company is now in growth mode, expanding into more dimensions. My employees are happy with this model, and so am I.
What do you think you came into this life to learn, and what do you think you came here to teach?
I believe “there is light at the end of the tunnel.” One has to be very patient when going through difficult times. The testing period is the best teacher you could ask for, as it will impart a depth of knowledge. It strengthens, liberates one from fears, builds character, and provokes the courage to try new things. My life was no different. I have run into many challenges and gained insights into every one of those bumps in the road. Today I implement the education and growth I’ve experienced along the way into my personal and professional life.
I would teach that the pursuit of life is happiness and to lead each day with self-confidence. If you do anything wholeheartedly, the result will be fantastic. When you love what you do, you can ensure that you are investing yourself entirely! Happiness is contagious, and as a leader, I want my employees to feel good about coming to work every day. I want those who meet with me to expand my business to walk away feeling my authenticity and appreciation for our shared time. You will achieve greater heights of success, too.
How different is it to have a business within the IT and film industries? And which one do you prefer?
In terms of creativity, dedication, and work, both industries are time-bound and require tunnel-vision, resiliency, and steadfast commitment to succeed. IT is exciting because of continuous technological advances, but it carries more of a traditional work environment feel. The film industry is by far edgier and more glamorous, with exclusive access where one can gain fame, exposure, and stardom quickly. My popularity meter began to rise after becoming a movie producer. My likeness is better now as a film personality than a techie, thanks to Kyyba Films’ success. Honestly, I enjoy working in both industries as they offer unique opportunities. I appreciate the different people and personalities attached, too. It’s always a win when I can combine my right and left brains.
If someone is going to make your life into a movie, who would play you?
Hands down, I would cast Regé-Jean Page to star as me. His body language, smile, and overall appearance share similarities. His aura is impressive, and I appreciate his on-screen presence. I’ve enjoyed many of his roles and OTT series.
What is the best advice you have ever been given by someone?
The best advice of my life came from a well-respected entrepreneur when I first opened my company. He emphasized the importance of investing the soul to the cause we believe in and leaving a legacy behind. And once we find our passion, we must work toward reaching the goals of success despite whatever hurdles are standing in the way. Entrepreneurship is like a ride on a catamaran on a mammoth, stormy ocean — the more significant the risk, the better the reward. We also must give back to society and shine our skills and knowledge on a good cause to support underprivileged people who are desperate for support.
What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
Entrepreneurship is about adding values and finding solutions for challenges people wish to do away with altogether. It is essential to research the field of interest and gain insight before diving deep. You must constantly be in tune with your industry’s advancements and stay at the forefront of its trends.
Discover and decode your keys to happiness. Follow your passion and seek joy in all pursuits. Make resilience and patience your best of friends, as there may be some rainy days that require a healthy blend of peace and perseverance. Once you find happiness in your work will feed your passion and zeal, allowing you to become your best self.