Dhiraj Mukherjee is a co-founder of Shazam, the world’s first mobile phone-based music recognition service that allows users to identify ambient music and which was acquired by Apple in 2017 for a reported $400m.
Recognised by the Financial Times as one of Europe’s Top 50 technology entrepreneurs in 2015, and elected a member of The Digital Banking Club’s “Power 50” in 2016, Dhiraj was previously Head of Banking Innovation at Virgin Money, where he was responsible for developing new digital banking services, including one aimed at serving 2.2 million students in the UK.
He is now an active angel investor focused on emerging technologies and “Tech for Good”, and was selected for Smith & Williamson’s “Power 100” in 2017 for supporting innovation and entrepreneurship in the UK.
Dhiraj Mukherjee has a degree in Mathematical Economics from Dartmouth College, USA and an MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. He regularly gives keynote speeches at conferences on innovation, entrepreneurship and emerging technology.
Across the two decades he spent building Shazam with his three partners, Dhiraj received a lot of advice and support from friends, colleagues, and mentors. However, the words that have guided him most through his career came from a very different source – his grandfather, who Dhiraj knew affectionately as ‘Dadu,’ and who served as an admiral in the Indian Navy.
As a young man, Dhiraj’s grandfather rose through the ranks of the navy at a time when discrimination was rife. Despite setbacks and challenges, he totally trusted in the power of self-belief. ‘
This mantra has guided Dhiraj throughout his entrepreneurial journey, he learned quickly when Shazam was starting out that persistence can be a powerful tool.
When Shazam first launched, before smartphones existed, users would need to dial a four-digit code to activate the service. These codes were in very short supply and providers were extremely selective with the start-ups they partnered with. One provider refused to engage with Shazam, but eventually Dhiraj and his business partners’ tenacity paid off. ‘We called them 44 times before finally getting a meeting and then getting the code,’ Dhiraj recalls.
In addition to his belief in resilience and determination, Dhiraj acknowledges how important surrounding yourself with people who have shared values and complementary skillsets is to uncover the ingenuity that can lead to success.
Dhiraj believes that success can’t be manufactured, and there‘s less value in planning for the future than working hard in the present, and enjoying the journey. Building off this, the advice he’d like to share with others usually involves questions like: are you surrounding yourself with people that you want to spend time with? And can you go with the flow? ‘That’s what I’d remind people to focus on.’
He received some great advice from his grandfather that’s shaped his entrepreneurial career to date and led him to learn his own lessons, like the power of shared values among co-founders or colleagues.
Patience is not something that’s typically valued in an entrepreneur. In fact, it goes against many of the traditional ideas around entrepreneurship, so when you need to slow down for the sake of your business, bringing everyone on board can be a challenge. At one point, Dhiraj declared himself ‘chief slowdown officer’ to help encourage his team to allow the space and time for certain things to come together and opportunities to reveal themselves.
The final advice Dhiraj says he would pass on to the next generation of entrepreneurs is to ‘enjoy the journey and go with the flow’. This is a mindset that embraces the value of relationships and learning from advice and lessons along the way.