Leaders of young ventures such as MadStreetDen, Paytm and PaperBoat gathered at the HT Leadership Summit 2017 in association with CNN-News18 on Thursday to discuss the essential ingredients required to become a successful entrepreneur.
Paytm founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma said that a definite purpose is needed to become an entrepreneur and people align with that purpose. Neeraj Kakkar, co-founder and CEO of Hector Beverages which sells PaperBoat brand of beverages said that loving your work is the best thing that might happen to you being an entrepreneur.
Ashwini Asokan, co-founder and CEO of Chennai-based MadStreetDen likened entrepreneurship to juggling ticking time bombs in both hands every day.
The CEOs also discussed issues related scale, profitability and surviving failure.
Here are a few tips, the leaders of India’s successful startups gave on how to become a successful entrepreneur.
#Have a Deep Purpose:
Vijay Shekhar Sharma: “There is a reason why people want to work with people. People polarise to your purpose.The team and the vision aligns with that purpose. I think every good entrepreneur wants to leave this earth behind having made an impact. As a human being, when you have achieved the basic things such as bread, butter and a shelter, one wants to give back to the society.”
Neeraj Kakkar: Purpose is what you have to define it for yourself. For me, it was becoming a protector of India’s natural recipes. It was almost like playing the role of a Superman. And I really enjoyed it. The good news is that you get paid for it as well. For me, my first purpose was ‘Saving the Aam Panna’.
Ashwini Asokan: “Our purpose is to democratise the use of AI - to give it purpose and give it meaning. This is what we are trying to do.”
On being a woman in tech, Asokan said that frankly, its really awful being a woman in tech, as there are so few of us. “But I loved being told that I don’t belong here. I love being told that being a woman in AI is an extremely challenging place to be.”
#Being Resilient - Not giving up on dreams:
Vijay Shekhar: “Once my marriage was arranged upon my father’s wish. And the prospective in-laws ask me - Beta kitna kama lets ho? I answered Rs 4,000-Rs 5,000. They asked me whether I am hurrying into marriage and advised me I should be patient. And then they don’t call back. That’s when my mother started to push me to get a job and get married.
Maybe that was one time…
Neeraj Kakkar: I think entrepreneurship is a very selfish career. You generally don’t have time for family, you don’t have money either. But what matters is that you love what you are doing. For me, it’s a good space to be in.
Ashwini Asokan: I think the opposite. I think entrepreneurship is generally a very miserable career. For me, once we have put the kids and family to sleep, that I need a mentor whom I can call at 3 am to discuss things. I think entrepreneurship is like the visual metaphor of a person trying to juggle ticking time bombs in both hands. That’s a visual metaphor I have when I wake up. It gets me going.
#Find the right customer:
Neeraj Kakkar: PaperBoat experimented in the last three years about various recipes of Pannakam, a beverage in South India. “We found that people in Karnataka like it a bit sweet, in Andhra a bit peppery, and in Tamil Nadu a gingery flavor of Pannakam. So we made a mixture of all three and got it tasted in the three tastes. Everybody disliked it.” The lesson is that three people can say I like you. But if there is one person that can say - I love you - that’s what matters.
Vijay Shekhar: I think when we reach an active internet user base of 500 million users in India, we will start to see large companies emerge.
The game will become so big that a billion here and a billion there wouldn’t matter. About tens of billions of dollars will be needed to be invested.
And our goal is to become the first USD 100 billion company out of India.
Till that you play the game, make friends and so on…
Neeraj Kakkar: Scaling is a challenge, he said recounting the fact that Paper Boat was naturally ripening about 100 tonnes of mangoes when it started. "However now we have to ripen about 10,000 tonnes. It has become an altogether new challenge in scalability," he said.