Jade KurianIt was dark and raining when I pulled up to Paul and Jade’s high rise apartment overlooking a twinkling Austin, Texas. I’d been on the road since early morning, pulling out of New Orleans long about 8am and stopping for boudin sausage before noon. It rained all day through the bayous of Louisiana past Baton Rouge and Lafayette and Lake Charles and on into Houston. Now headed toward the Texas hill country, it was still raining.

But Jade had us set up at her dining room table for me to record her telling me stories of her youth. She lit a candle and placed a vase of rosebuds by a small statuette of the goddess Lakshmi, bestower of abundance. It’s a warming presence for a weary traveler.

My boyhood Christian sensibilities want to say, “What is this idol that we are seated beside?” Jade explains that her grandfather told her all kinds of stories about the gods and goddesses before she left India as a small girl. Now she and my buddy Paul clean their apartment meticuloously to make Lakshmi welcome. After all, she has the power to sweep away poverty and bring riches.

I remember putting out plates of cookies and a glass of milk for Saint Nicholas, a Christian patron saint, banisher of poverty and bringer of goodies. Is it really any different? Those who bring abundance, we want to welcome. We don’t want them passing by our home without stopping off just long enough to drop off gifts.

I’ve known Paul and Jade for decades, since they were TV reporters in Dallas. I followed their reinvention as spouses and partners and entrepreneurs. A decade ago I listened intently on late night phone calls as Paul would call me from the Kennedy School where he got a masters and cooked up his business plan at the same time.

The result was Latakoo – a small Austin tech startup with a big vision. It went through several reincarnations in their living room and seven lean years before turning a profit. They didn’t just keep the doors open. They actually succeeded. They achieved liftoff and viability in a rough and tumble world of media and tech. At times I thought it would have been easier if they just bought a Subway sandwich franchise.

All along the way, they never gave up. They constantly raised money and kept building. They learned to pivot. They learned to innovate. They built something they can and should be incredibly proud of.

I’m proud to know them. It’s all the more impressive when you hear Jade’s story of the village she came from in southern India – where the river would flood and the snakes would come in the house and there was no toilet.

She’s come a long way. She’s in a new and wonderful world. She and Paul have an amazing daughter. They have an innovative business enterprise. They have a rich history together.

As student, reporter, entrepreneur, wife and mother, Lakshmi has followed her. Many blessings to you Jade Kurian! You have worked hard and long and smart for decades upon decades. You richly deserve it.


The @ManListening podcast conversation with Jade Kurian drops Thursday, December 24.