E-Boot Camp@IWSB – Eurekas, WOWs and Tête-à-têtes with Entrepreneurs and Investors

E-Bootcamp at IWSB Campus

E-Boot Camp at IWSB on Dec 4, 2010.

IWSB campus not only wore a festive look but also had many eager learners from various institutions and corporate who were there to listen, interact, participate, share their ideas and seek opinions and advise on their ideas.

It was an amazing day the budding entrepreneurial aspirants for sure, but the dozen wizened entrepreneurs and investors, who took time off to spend their precious time to be at the event, were left inspired by the eagerness of the students and entrepreneurial aspirants.

There were three panel discussions and interactions followed by a session by Sreeni – “Think Big, Start Small”, that focused on breaking the myths about ‘starting a business with sophisticated ideas and big money that we want’

The first of the panel discussion had three eminent personalities – Girish Batra (Alum IIMA), Founder, NetAmbit; Vivek Agarwal (Alum IIMC), Founder, Liquid and eGurucool; and Gagan Kumar (Alum IIMB), Accel Partners,  representing the world of ‘investors’. The session was moderated by Girish Batra.

The second panel had Shantanu Prakash (Alum IIMA), founder Educomp; Gautam Puri (Alum IIMB) co-founder CL;Sreeni (Alum IIMB) co-founder CL and Director IWSB;

The third panel had  Vivek Bihani (Alum IIMB) and Co-founder Magic Software and Founder InSync advisors and Arindam (Alum IIML) Director IWSB and co-founder CL

Here in is the capture of the first panel discussion on “Opportunities – discovering one”

The inaugural address with the first panel - Girish, Gagan and Vivek

Moderator – Girish : Q. How do you create an Idea? How do you think about being an entrepreneur? What is the motivation of becoming one?

Me too challenges are higher. Thinking need to be unique. How do you chase about going ahead.

Capital and manpower are challenges in the initial stages. Examples are few, resources are limited, less control on resources, capital, challenges you go through; can you anticipate some of them, how do you bring risk mitigation;

Gagan –

Discount whatever I say, since I am only a facilitating person. Girish and Vivek have created business

Why become an entrepreneur in the first place? Even if you have taken a call, it is a fashion today to say I want to be an entrepreneur!!

Vivek –

That is the basic question. It cannot be over emphasized. Why are we getting into this?

I was reading a quote – “Lot of start-ups do not succeed. Those who succeed are the happiest people in the world” –

You have got to select a problem to solve. And if you do, you will make huge monies. You are wondering what next. It is worth taking a shot. Not having to say later on, why have I not taken the shot? I never really wanted to do it, because never wanted to say to my children – “ I did not try”

Gagan –

I was at IIMB a couple of weeks ago at an entrepreneurial event – you need to evaluate first why you want to get into it. It is going to be a grind.  70 Lakhs additional people joining Facebook every month, what could have been the initial motivation? It is paying dividends now, after all the grind put the people behind.

You can go to corporate, enjoy life, 5-9 job. So if you are convinced of a job you should go there. Go only when you are going to enjoy..

I also look at Satya – Way back in 1993, I thought as much as many others ‘Eh kya karega, padhayega ‘(what is this fellow going to do? Teach?). We all were ridiculing in those days. Look at today, we think “arey yaar hame kyon yeh vision nahin tha!”

You need to be prepared for a number of challenges …I am sure Satya will have hundreds of stories to tell..

Girish –

When I look back, in 1999, when I took this challenge.. I felt I was looking for happiness. Lot of times our actions are determined by what we do…  Now 4000 people strong, may be 7000 people strong pretty soon..

It feels good to see giving back to the society.

So questions are – What is your aspiration? What you are looking at? I was speaking to a friend from IIMA. I realized that his aspiration is not to scale up. If you really want to do business, your path should be clear – the actions you take, the plan you want to follow.. Yes, luck does play some role too…

What is the end-goal in your mind and start working towards it. What would you be like when you are 40-45?

Moderator – Girish : What do you think makes an Idea succeed?

Gagan –

Team, market size of the idea, customers tracking, scalability, certainly differentiating factors, what works, who pays for it… so many questions to be explored

Last 2 years we have done 20 odd investments at the seed stage.

At most of the companies what they are today was not what they started with..

  • A Social networking company, started off well… but today it is SAS platform for recruiters.

No idea is bad. It may not be fundable initially but if the idea can make some segment happy about using the product or service, I am sure the Idea will succeed eventually.

Vivek –

Another way of what they are sharing is..

There is a lifestyle business. One gentleman came and was speaking to me. He is aggregation of courses for people. Do you want your son to take over your business at some time? He said yes. Perhaps he is in a lifestyle business… it is a family-centric approach.

Pursing one idea aggressively. You may want to corporatize. If it works fine, else you may to shut shop. In this model you may have partners and in terms of product and people may grow huge..

No bad ideas, as Gagan mentioned. When I started eGurucool, we prepared a vision of what we wanted to do. We spoke to investment bankers. We were discouraged from raising funds, since everyone asked for documentation of idea and plan … How can we send it across, someone may copy it. It was stupid, we realized later. How will anyone fund without sharing your ideas?

There were 75 companies that were working on the same idea. We raised capital and we executed better. If you are the only one working on an idea, perhaps then the idea may not be with potential. Google guys were willing to sell the idea to yahoo and but yahoo thought it was too expensive and not worth it… now look at google, when they executed the idea!

Good Idea with bad execution does not succeed. But a bad idea with good execution can take it long.

Look at what your interests are.

Two of my friends set up an HR firm. Why will anyone fund you?  Software platform that will reduce the work; I had asked how will you do it without a techie.

Steve jobs said “Steve wozniac; I got a techie to be my co-founder”

So first know what you really like and what you do not have and get people with that expertise…

Girish

Execution is the key to success. It is a lot about being practical, pragmatic and you should have your eyes and ears close to the ground. You need to have the ability to learn fast and quick. Name of the game is execution.

If you have an idea where there are already a few players, kindly find gaps – product side, services side….

Always go to people who have experience in your domain to get their opinions. Bouncing off with people. Do not be hesitant to share idea. The real success is in execution and not in just idea. Idea has to be good, but execution can make a killing out of even a mundane idea, else we kill a brilliant idea.

E-Bootcamp at IWSB Campus - The audience and the arena

Vivek

Try out a few ideas in the campus itself. Pool 1000 rupees and create small businesses of selling ICECREAMS, TSHIRTS etc. a lot of learning happens through…

Girish

Challenges are plenty. Journey is going to be bumpy. You will not have the support systems you want. You will have to be aware and try how to mitigate the challenges early.

Challenges will be on multiple fold – Supply as well as Demand side ..

  • sourcing raw material
  • people : how do you attract talent; you wear all the caps initially, but how do you attract the people…
  • market side
  • demand side
  • regulatory compliance

You will have bad and good times. How do you take care of personal and emotional challenges.

Moderator – Girish : How will you take care of challenges?

Vivek –

I will share from my experiences –

You have to be convinced and passionate about your idea… you have to be stubborn headed about it. Think that the whole world is wrong…What is the ideal way of building business?

If I were to do a business today, let us take online community business.. If I were a good techie, I will get a good marketing guy or otherwise. I will spend some good money and put the website. I will outsource or get people on contract. Get good feedback from early users and then reach out to the angel investors..

Have a couple of co-founders, with supplementary and complementary skills. Then  keep the costs low

Make sure your expenses are behind the cash flows. Kindly keep raising capital, so that you can move faster

Getting into execution – You will have to be the chief techie, chief peon…. That is the part of the early growth process. It is not going to be easy.

There are a set of trade-offs, it helps you to understand which way you are going..

Let us say you are selling HR software…making recruitment process easier. Girish, may say I need finance also, I am tempted to get that too…It is always good to get your core competence and what you want to build… stick to it..

People – when you hire people, we get equity and … ‘

‘Hire for Attitude, and train for skills’ we need people who are flexible and dynamic. As you grow you need people with grey hair… Getting one good guy than four compromises is better. You may need to even pay him more that what you make for yourself, but just do it.

The eminent visitors sharing a laughter

Gagan –

In campus we hang on with same friends. Try to create teams that are very diverse. Get the complementary skills..

Ego: Who will be the CEO. Whom should I speak to? He should be outgoing, good sales man, he has to be the face of the company; The one who grinds should be COO. Being humble is one of the critical traits we should look for..

Q&A

We start with our own 2-4 lacs and I do not want to go to anyone else if I want to get 10-15 lacks they may give, with many stings attached. What does the panel have to say about it

Panel –

If you want to have 10 lacs, I think you will have to get it from friends. If you need 40-50 lacs then you may enthuse investors. Get 20-25 lacs from angels; get things going

Prove your idea with your own money before you can convince others…

I feel you need to get rid off “Strings Attached”.

Size of the market? How do you evaluate…

You need to get the size of the market certainly for any idea.. Even if you are coming out with a completely new product, you should understand the need and wants. Estimate what will satisfy and how much will the demand be. Do a survey that will give reasonable data to crunch..

After starting  business after investing 20-30 lakhs and feel I need more money?

I started my business with 1 Lakh. It is a complete misnomer to feel that you need very big investments.

It is important to distinct between personal capital and capital for growth

How do you get on to the good execution?

  1. Two kids – Flipcart – selling books online – we said kaun kharidta hai
  • Showed traffic and transactions
  • Then we took the plunge
  • Entry barriers – A large book store said they already had gone online and they are multiple times of Flipcart
  • But in a couple of months Flipcart became a multiple of the stores
  • Good search engine work
  • So PROOF OF concept is important at the same time keep your eye on costs, that is the key.

  • Does being introvert not help in setting up a business?
    1. It is not about idea, it is all about execution..
    2. No body is going to fund us only on idea..
    3. You need to talk about your idea to a host of others
    1. i.      Customers
      ii.      People to recruit
  • One team that has won many b-plan competitions but has not started the enterprise yet… Conviction and willingness to slog is the key

So if you are an introvert, but have ideas and are willing to work hard, find someone who will front-end your interactions with external world. Because networking and interacting will take your “proof of concept” to the outside world.

(the interaction is not complete, as I had to rush out of the hall).. Will write the other panel interaction in a separate blog

Kindly leave your comments or write to sreeni@iwsb.in

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