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2014 Forty Under 40: Aman Brar

Lou Harry
February 1, 2014
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brar_aman_1col.jpg (IBJ Photo/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Game on: “I was one of those kids who was lucky enough to have the Commodore 64,” Brar said. “I was always enchanted by technology.”

West-case scenario: After graduating from Wabash College—where he played football and studied economics and religion—Brar moved to Silicon Valley. But after a series of jobs, he yearned to return. He applied to graduate schools elsewhere, but couldn’t refute his wife’s logic: “If the goal is to get back to Indiana,” she asked, “how is going to a different state furthering that goal?” Solution: Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. “Outside of my marriage,” Brar said, “being a part of the tech story here in Indiana was the best decision of my life.”

Keeping up with Joneses: While in business school, Brar was asked to TA an entrepreneurship class taught by voicemail/ChaCha guru Scott Jones. Flash forward: After stints with Eli Lilly and Co. and Guidant Corp., Brar was hired by Jones and became vice president of business development for ChaCha. In 2009, he left for IT firm Apparatus, which he has helped grow from 40 to 160 employees and from $7 million to $25 million in revenue. This year involves closing deals on both coasts for the expanding company and business dealings as far away as Singapore.

Mentors: Brar credits his high school football coach with helping shape him. “He taught me to do the right thing when no one’s watching and to slog through with the wind in your face.”

AGE 36
Hometown: Hayward, Calif.

Family: wife, Susan; son, Navraj, 4

Extracurriculars: Brar serves on the boards of the Kelley School Board of Visitors (his “stepping stone back into the Indiana economy”) and the YMCA (“It’s in a unique position to help Indy become a healthier and more productive city”). Traveling and camping are high on the Brar to-do list, whether global (including trips to Africa and India) or local. “Take a 4-year-old to Shades State Park and he thinks he’s at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.”

Attracting talent: Brar is an outspoken opponent of the effort to define marriage in Indiana. “People want to be associated with progressive places. Indiana does a lot of things well. But it’s like being an offensive tackle. You don’t get credit for 99 percent of the blocks but you lose credit when you miss one. Things like the gay marriage debate are like giving up a sack.”•

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  1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

  2. Shall we not demand the same scrutiny for law schools, med schools, heaven forbid, business schools, etc.? How many law school grads are servers? How many business start ups fail and how many business grads get low paying jobs because there are so few high paying positions available? Why does our legislature continue to demean public schools and give taxpayer dollars to charters and private schools, ($171 million last year), rather than investing in our community schools? We are on a course of disaster regarding our public school attitudes unless we change our thinking in a short time.

  3. I agree with the other reader's comment about the chunky tomato soup. I found myself wanting a breadstick to dip into it. It tasted more like a marinara sauce; I couldn't eat it as a soup. In general, I liked the place... but doubt that I'll frequent it once the novelty wears off.

  4. The Indiana toll road used to have some of the cleanest bathrooms you could find on the road. After the lease they went downhill quickly. While not the grossest you'll see, they hover a bit below average. Am not sure if this is indicative of the entire deal or merely a portion of it. But the goals of anyone taking over the lease will always be at odds. The fewer repairs they make, the more money they earn since they have a virtual monopoly on travel from Cleveland to Chicago. So they only comply to satisfy the rules. It's hard to hand public works over to private enterprise. The incentives are misaligned. In true competition, you'd have multiple roads, each build by different companies motivated to make theirs more attractive. Working to attract customers is very different than working to maximize profit on people who have no choice but to choose your road. Of course, we all know two roads would be even more ridiculous.

  5. The State is in a perfect position. The consortium overpaid for leasing the toll road. Good for the State. The money they paid is being used across the State to upgrade roads and bridges and employ people at at time most of the country is scrambling to fund basic repairs. Good for the State. Indiana taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the toll roads to the tune of millions a year as we had for the last 20 years because the legislature did not have the guts to raise tolls. Good for the State. If the consortium fails, they either find another operator, acceptable to the State, to buy them out or the road gets turned back over to the State and we keep the Billions. Good for the State. Pat Bauer is no longer the Majority or Minority Leader of the House. Good for the State. Anyway you look at this, the State received billions of dollars for an assett the taxpayers were subsidizing, the State does not have to pay to maintain the road for 70 years. I am having trouble seeing the downside.

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