This month, we’re featuring Bobby Achettu, CEO and founder of Accelerated Growth Advisors, a company that develops and executes creative strategies to effectively enhance business performance. Bobby attended DePaul University for his undergraduate degree and earned his MBA from the University of Notre Dame. Currently, he serves as an adjunct professor at Northwestern University where he teaches within the Chicago Fields Studies Program. Bobby took us through his entrepreneurial journey, how he’s helping clients deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and his hopes and plans for the future.
EO Member: Bobby Achettu
Company: Accelerated Growth Advisors
Years in Business: 10
How long have you been a member of EO Chicago and why did you join the organization?
I have been a member of EO for five years now. Before I joined, a good friend of mine was a member who invited me to EO events. Having had a background mostly in large corporate organizations, I was missing out on the opportunities to meet other entrepreneurs in the area and make real connections. I found that EO filled that gap. The moment I got to $1 million in revenue with Accelerated Growth, I joined up.
What was your very first job?
My first job ever was as a custodial assistant between freshman and sophomore year of high school. I cleaned lockers at the grade school—it was a humbling experience! But my first real job was in business process consulting at a large firm.
Can you describe your entrepreneurial journey? Where did you start and where do you hope to go in the future?
When I first started, I transitioned from a large corporate firm to a private equity firm, and that was my first exposure to the entrepreneurial space. I loved it. As far as where I hope to go in the future, I want to spend more time on the investment and nonprofit sides of Accelerated Growth. Making an impact is what drives me, and so growing the Partners and AG360 branches of Accelerated Growth is a big goal of mine.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Our mission at Accelerated Growth is to transform people and organizations, to help them be the best that they can be. And that’s what I enjoy doing most—working with incredible people every day to help get their companies to the place they want to be.
Could you tell us about the daily challenges you face on the job?
The work I do often requires me to tell clients things they don’t want to hear. A lot of times, it’s telling them what they’re doing wrong—so that they can learn from that and grow. It’s not always easy, but it’s my job and ultimately it will help them.
What’s the coolest thing you’re working on right now?
Everything critical and essential to my clients is cool to me. Right now, though, we’re in the midst of making an investment in a company that will offer complementary services to our clients. It’s an area where we can add a lot of value to our company, so it’s an awesome project to work on.
What are your goals for the future for Accelerated Growth Advisors?
Growth is a huge one for sure, especially concerning employee headcount and revenue. I’d like to reach a point with my team where I can take a step back from the services aspect of Accelerated Growth Advisors and really put my energy into investment and nonprofits. I also always strive to make a greater impact, which is largely driven by acquiring more clients.
What would you say is the best career advice you have ever received?
Be humble. I’ve worked with a lot of growing companies and the common denominator between all of them is that they’re humble and want to continue learning and growing. Their desire to constantly improve makes them good clients and great people to work with.
Who or what inspires you?
My two biggest sources of inspiration are my dad and my wife. My dad, an immigrant from India, came to the states with just about nothing. He was an engineer in India and had to start from scratch in the U.S. when he came here. He grew up from a humble background and taught me a lot about the value of hard work.
My wife is the most amazing human being I’ve ever met. She’s strong, driven and incredibly supportive. Part of me has always felt like all of this—the business—is a bit of a game, in that it’s fun, and she’s been there to support me and ground me every step of the way through it.
If you could go back in time five years and share advice with your past self, what advice would you share?
Accelerated Growth uses a tool called Culture Index now, which is essentially a behavioral trade assessment tool. It’s been transformational for the company. If I could give myself advice, it would be to start using it five years ago.
What is the greatest challenge you have overcome?
Because of my training in crisis management, I don’t look at challenges negatively—instead, I see each one as a unique and important learning opportunity. Helping clients through the coronavirus pandemic has been a challenge because every day is different and it’s such an unprecedented experience for everyone. But dealing with crises is literally what I was trained to do, so it feels good to help people through something like this.
How has remote work changed your work-life balance?
These past few months have been super intense. Working from home means I don’t need to commute—typically, I would spend at least three hours a day doing that. When that number goes down to zero, I can be even more effective and productive than ever. During the week, this allows me to concentrate more on home life once work hours are over. But on the weekends, I’m not leaving work at the office and end up working much more. Ultimately, though this whole experience has taught me that I can be effective working from home and so I plan to do it at least one day a week moving forward, even when normal life resumes.
Speaking of home life, let’s talk about you outside of work and your career. What are your favorite things to do outside of work?
I like to play basketball and hang out with my kids—doing whatever they want to do. Work is very much a hobby to me—I find putting together an analysis report or a PowerPoint presentation on strategy fun.
What are you currently reading?
Rising Together: The Story of Chicago’s Innovation Ecosystem by Chicago Innovation. It’s really good—shares the story of people, organizations and the culture that leads to growth in this region. Plus, I know a few of the guys who wrote it and it’s always cool to read something written by someone you know.
If you could recommend one podcast, what would it be?
How I Built This with Guy Raz on NPR.
What’s your favorite restaurant in Chicago?
Rooh, which has fusion Indian food.
Do you have a top Chicago activity?
I love going out on the lake. I have a friend with a boat, and so we like to get out there at least once a month—weather permitting.
Where is your favorite place in the world to visit?
Kerala, India, where my family is originally from.
How did you and your family come to be in Chicago?
My uncle attended college here and sponsored everyone in my family to come over to the United States and join him in Chicago. So, although I was born in India, I moved here when I was four and have been here since then.
Finally, what’s one thing still left on your bucket list?
Fully executing my nonprofit AG360 and making it completely operational. The vision is to impact one million lives, so it’s a hefty goal. But it’s a challenge I look forward to facing every day and I’m sure I’ll learn a lot along the way.
Thank you, Bobby, for sharing your story with us for this month’s membership spotlight. The Entrepreneurs’ Organization is a global business network of more than 14,000 entrepreneurs in 195 chapters and 62 countries. EO is the catalyst that enables entrepreneurs to learn and grow from each other, leading to greater business success and an enriched personal life.
If you’re interested in becoming an EO Chicago member, check our membership requirements and submit an application to join today.