My Journey – Pradeep Gupta, Founder CYBERMEDIA : Addressing TYE participants

Mr Pradeep Gupta, Founder and CEO, CYBERMEDIA addressing TYE participants at the inaugural session

Let me start by sharing my background….

–        1970-75, IIT DELHI

–        1977 IIMC

–        Joined a start up from the campus, very unusual in those days

  • HCL – 1976-77, multibillion dollar company now; first set of management grads there

–        1980 – started a software company

  • 1982 – wanted to get into media, never had any background
  • Cybermedia – Dataquest, PC Quest,…
  • Now DARE for entrepreneurship
  • More than a dozen publications and websites

–        Late 1990s, TIE was coming into the country, got involved with the movement

  • At that time Entrepreneurial ecosystem was lacking
  • A small amount of money required for those who want to start
  • Funding fraternity : Infinity, Indian angel network – India Bulls was funded

–        Asked the youngsters “Why do you want to be an entrepreneur?”

  • Freedom, own boss, own goals
  • Serve people with profit
  • Upliftment of the society / impacting the society
  • No ceilings
  • Sense of accomplishment
  • Want to be Job providers
  • Profit / it is all mine
  • Adrenaline rush all the time / ideating

The youngsters participating in TYE

Let me address a few of the issues you have stated…

–        Freedom asks for more responsibility and discipline

  • In social studies, it says, you have rights, but you have responsibility too

–        A friend of mine, quit ad-agencies and became a brand consultant

  • I was working till late and work odd-hours
  • Here I was lounging, then shared that he realized as an entrepreneur I have to be more disciplined

–        Own Boss

  • Own vision, roles, direction
  • “Mera wala pink” – You can create your own canvas

–        Profit

  • Is all mine, for sure
  • You will always have resources short of your dream
    • You will raise resources, then you need to part with your profits then
    • You will create a team to be successful, you will part with equity

–        Sky is the limit

  • Job creation, supporting families

–        Ideas into reality

  • Passion
  • Ideas into reality

PG asked “What is the flip side of entrepreneurship?”

–        You can be a threat to the national security – Bill Gates and the US (E)

–        Risk : No fixed income

–        Lot of responsibility; (E)

–        If idea did not succeed, failure even after investing so much; may even go bankrupt

–        Finding money (E)

–        You have to take care of yourself and losses

–        Lot of instability – emotionally, not limited to financial;  unpredictability, (E),

–        High pressure – (E)

–        Public policy barriers; corruption;  volatile markets and economy

–        Competition ; Leadership challenges (E)

–        Discouragement from being an entrepreneur – not easily accepted (E); social acceptability of failure

–        Work-life balance

What prompted PG to start on his own?

–        One more story, while I was passing out of IIT Delhi

  • Critical decisions in life that will tell you what you are going to do
  • Started applying for jobs
    • TIFR – highly tech questions in the interview, got through
    • Job with TELCO – Now Tata Motors
    • Admissions in the Univ of California, berkley
    • IIMC
  • Each path would have lead me in different direction
    • One friend of mine went to TIFR, now Deputy Director at NIC, Professor at IITD
    • Many friends went to the US, a few became entrepreneurs, acads or high paying jobs
    • Had I joined, Tata Motors; Senior Hierarchy in Tata empire
  • Decision to join HCL, a start up after IIMC was also not a normal one at that time
    • A professor of mine advised me to join the start up
    • Because of that exposure, entrepreneurial juices got released
    • HCL was highly entrepreneurial
    • Those days were pre-personal computer era
    • Mainframes and Mini – 13kb memory; floppy disks – 80 Kb;
    • Disks replaced punch cards that were in vogue then
    • At HCL Software development, training customers, etc…

–        HCL, itself was suffering – needed people, computers very expensive, ..

–        I somehow wanted to buy a computer (4 lakhs)

  • Get the data, process and give the results
  • I will do training
  • Raise some money to start off
  • I put money after raising it from friends and invested

–        Shiv Nadar wanted to have a chat, once I put in my papers

  • I shared that I wanted to become an entrepreneur
  • He said that he was thinking of sending me to Singapore, to head operations
    • Many temptations will be your way; discouragement
  • Once he felt that I am determined, Shiv asked how he could help me
    • got software assignments,

–        Media company : 1981 – Defence colony barsaati

–        A girl from UNICEF – livestock idea… did a back of the envelope calculation

  • Livestock times
  • Paper and reams..
  • Rums and cokes inside
    • I will have to put money, then have to know the business
    • Converted into a magazine – Dataquest : India’s first B-2-B magazine

Why not Berkley, why IIMC?

–        Majority of people going to Berkley did not become entrepreneurship

–        IIMC, I thought will facilitate me

Entrepreneurship

–        Raising money was far difficult during our time

–        It was not accepted / socially was not

–        Setting up a company was difficult

–        Doing your own business is the last choice

–        Business was a dirty word

–        Today incubators, Seed money, angel network, HNI, loans…. Many avenues (in a special session we will deal with them)

Deterrents

–        People would say film magazines, women and political mags work, no other magazine

–        Business mags just came out in 1981

–        I did not have any idea about publishing

–        Sports and Children’s mags did not do well

Four ingredients, key to success

–        Inspiration – Idea that will change, disruptive

  • Idea can just take you that far; it will bring copy-cats
  • Microsoft did not expect google; they could never match google’s search engine

–        Aspiration

  • Passion is important
  • Companies become 6 crore, not go beyond; hunger in the belly stagnates

–        Respiration

  • Build a team,
  • Get people better than you
  • Raise equity, get ideas

–        Perspiration

  • It is all about hardwork
  • Roles
  • First three years, I have not had any vacation
  • You have to pay everyone who works for you; you may not take for yourself

I still remember the first issue of DataQuest. I still have a copy of it. Indescribable pleasure. There are risks, pressures and responsibilities

You will have pressures even when you are working for others. What would the managers of NOKIA be doing today, when from being a leader in the business you have been relegated to a struggle in the market?

Entrepreneurship has been an accepted path today.

–        Do not try entrepreneurship if you are risk averse..

–        When the risks are there, rewards are there..

How do entrepreneurs chase the rewards – How does wealth get enhanced?

–        Sense of accomplishment is there…

  • Recognition

–        Profits : how will you take it from a company

  • Salary /  incentives / commissions / perks
  • Shares – dividends get paid
    • Value of the shares go up – defined by capital markets perception
    • Buy out
  • IPO, stock markets  you know the valuation

–        We need to realize that a few CEOs will get paid more than an entrepreneur

–        Serial entrepreneur is the height of entrepreneurship

  • One kind of entrepreneurship required in early stages
  • Second kind of DNA required to run in the second stage
    • Systems, processes, consolidation…

–        If ambitions are high, then resources are needed

  • IPO
  • Diluting
  • Other shareholders
  • Responsible for all

Q & A

–        As a Cyber Media CEO – how do you balance between Work and Family

  • The choices are not binary in nature
  • We need to create balance
  • We need to deal with multiple pressures, in the limited hours
  • If we plan well time-wise, you can always work
  • Quality of time is as much important as quantity

–        What happens to the employees, when one company is sold off to another

  • Employees will continue to be part of the new company
  • As long as you are performing, need not worry

–        Were there any time, when you were going through huge losses, how you dealt with

  • 2009 slow down affected very badly
  • Borrowed money from banks
  • Shutdown business that are not profitable
  • IBM went through sever losses in 1990s and then came back
  • Steps to overcome
    • Reassess what you are doing wrong or right, strategize
    • Cash needs to be available
      • You must be able to pay
      • Close down a few business, sell assets
      • Restructure the business to spare money

–        What was the driving force to continue entrepreneurship

  • Passionate
  • Sense of achievement
  • Hurdles will come in the way, how do we handle is very important

–        Had you gone to the US would it have impacted better

  • I thought of an Idea, and wanted to make it happen
  • Possible could have postponed, but someone would have come with a magazine
  • We have not seen the future..
  • If you have entrepreneurial bent, see an opportunity, why postpone
  • Becoming an entrepreneur is difficult in later part of life

–        Ideal path – job then entrepreneur, or start off?

  • What worked for me might not work for you..
  • Each one has his or her own path….
  • Idea is the key..
  • Jagdish Kattar – Carnation

–        Infinity ventures : 5-7 years fund

  • Every fund has life, it gets distributed
  • India Bulls was the greatest company; India games is now with disney
  • Then we formed Angel Network
    • Every year new money is raised, new investments every year (2 every month)

–        1999-2000

  • Boom helped many entrepreneurs
  • Money was flowing, about 1000 companies came into existence; only 10 might have survived
  • Money is just one among many things required; it is perhaps the least

–        Did you have plan B, while starting a company?

  • Sometimes we really think too much;
  • safety nets are there for all of us who are educated
  • Once you are passionate, you will not think of anything

–        Stereotypes

  • Any for females now?
    • No one rule fits everything
    • Create own path
  • Social stereotypes
    • Risk takers
    • Aspirational

Knowledge is sitting in this room; we have everything here…. Just go and believe in your ideas and create your business.

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