Rashmi Bansal Mumbai May AUTHOR'S NOTE 01_The book of aracer.mobi 7/19/08 PM Page 2 STAY HUNGRY STAY FOOLISH 2 THE BOOK. byRashmi Bansal. Topics Stay Hungry Stay Foolish. Collectionopensource. Stay Hungry Stay Foolish. IdentifierStayHungryStayFoolish. book review,ppt,stay hungry stay foolish - Free download as Powerpoint Presentation .ppt /.pptx), PDF File .pdf), Text Download as PPTX, PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd Rashmi Bansal is a writer, entrepreneur and youth expert.
|Language:||English, Spanish, French|
|Distribution:||Free* [*Registration needed]|
Editorial Reviews. About the Author. Rashmi Bansal writer entrepreneur and youth expert. Look inside this book. Stay Hungry Stay Foolish by [Bansal, rashmi]. Stay Hungry Stay Foolish book. Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. The inspiring stories of 25 IIM Ahmedabad graduates who c. 'Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish' is a famous quote from Steve Jobs's commencement address to graduating class of Stanford University in This motto came.
This book is for someone who abhors the rat-race and who wants to be at the mercy of none but himself. This is for someone who wants to sit on the driver's seat and lead. It is a beautiful documentation of successful tales of 25 people who believed in their ability, their idea and maneuvered their ship with grit through the rough weather. I don't understand the people rating this book 1. I believe in looking at the brighter side. In my opinion, the author though was not the best at writing but has worked hard to get the stories together and inspire people in and around India.
Life is too small to learn only from your mistakes and this gives you a wonderful opportunity to avoid certain mistakes that these achievers committed. Throughout the book I felt, I must make my to be wife read it before we get married so that she knows that my life is not going to be a cake walk. It will have it's own entrepreneurial share of struggle.
These are success stories, come on, you can't really question them. Some of the most important traits that the book highlights are 1. View all 4 comments. Jun 14, Arun Subhash rated it liked it. Stay Hungry Stay Foolish is an honest attempt to bring forward Indian Entrepreneurs who began their entrepreneurial careers at different stages of their lives.
It is writing in a conversational format and the book contains 25 interviews. The language of the books is not exceptional and at times the author has used Hindi while quoting conversations. GiveIndia is a not for profit organization in India.
It is an onl Stay Hungry Stay Foolish is an honest attempt to bring forward Indian Entrepreneurs who began their entrepreneurial careers at different stages of their lives. It is an online donation platform and aims to channel and provide resources to credible Non-Governmental Organisations across India. GiveIndia was conceived in by Venkat. He wanted to create a credible link between people willing to donate and credible grass root NGOs which work for the poorest of the poor.
Venkat's entrepreneurial journey was inspirational! All in all a good book and a one time read! Jan 06, Abhinav Agrawal rated it liked it. The book is essentially an IIM Ahmadabad marketing material. It contains details about indian entrepreneurs and their success stories The big issue with the book is that its like a mixed vegetable dish in indian restaurant menus.
There could have been numerous other example of Indian entrepreneurs which have made it much bigger in the same time period Do not spent more than 3 hours on the book and you can finish it in a single sitting Nov 30, Awdhesh Singh rated it liked it.
A good and motivating book to read. It talks about the life of 25 IIMA graduates who chose to become 'successful' entrepreneurs. However, the style is quite dull and often you have to drag yourself to complete the chapter. The stories start looking repetitive after a time and you lose interest going into the nitty-gritty of the project implementation. If you interested to motivate yourself to become an entrepreneur and if you from IIM, this book can help you leaving your job to take the risk of A good and motivating book to read.
If you interested to motivate yourself to become an entrepreneur and if you from IIM, this book can help you leaving your job to take the risk of entrepreneurship. I am sure there must be many-time more IIM grades who failed to achieve success, but we obviously have no interest in their lives.
Apr 11, Heena Garg rated it really liked it. Best insights about great IIMA alumni. Everyone does not chase money rather many chase dreams. Some dreams are beyond any common man's imagination. Totally inspiring book with true successful stories including their hurdles. Mar 10, Shubham Kabra rated it really liked it. Good collection of stories about IIMA startups. Two quick feedback 1.
The book needs an upgradation with time - All stories end at and the world has changed a lot after that 2. Stories are about hardcore business, the tech-driven startup has little to learn from references but core phenomenon remains the same - persistence! May 28, Narendran M R rated it really liked it. I picked up this book in a roadside bookstall, had never heard of this book before, but boy!
A truly inspiring book, the narrative is fluid, never glossing over unnecessary details, with well grounded takeaway summaries at the end of each chapter. The book will make you impatient to take the plunge if you are the one like me hovering around the fringes of entrepreanourship thoughts constantly: Rashmi Bansal, Way to go!
Hope to see similar gems in future. Jun 16, Harsh added it.
I would recommend it to aspiring entrepreneurs who dont have an inkling abt what Entrepreneurship is all about especially the a Well I would recommend it to aspiring entrepreneurs who dont have an inkling abt what Entrepreneurship is all about especially the above 2 stories!!!!
Jan 18, Aju Thomas rated it it was amazing. I've always wanted to an MBA, but I've had my doubts about what to expect if I set out to be an entrepreneur. This book has cleared a lot of ideas I had about being an entrepreneur because it speaks from the experience from 25 passionate people, their success and failures, and the idea that doing your own thing is going to be easy has changed, but the other effect it had on me was that I've never wanted to do anything more than an MBA.
This book I think speaks about how to chase your passion and I've always wanted to an MBA, but I've had my doubts about what to expect if I set out to be an entrepreneur. This book I think speaks about how to chase your passion and what to prioritise on your way doing that. Oct 28, Nithin rated it really liked it Shelves: Good read for those who dream big. Some of the great philosophies learnt through this book are 1 You can have short term goals and long term aspirations not long term goals.
Time you devote for former should be more than latter. Chose intuition and stand for it no matter whatsoever happens. Feb 28, Pravin Agarwal rated it really liked it. I always loved the title of this book, it is highly motivating and teaches you patience.
When everyone is doubtful of your actions you continue with a passion and sheer love of your work. The book is a collection of IIT Alumni stories who go their way to become great entrepreneurs. The book is motivating and thought provoking. Aug 27, Nishant rated it really liked it. I lived just a stone's throw away distance from IIM Ahmedabad. For me its very inspiring to know that IIMA had atleast 25 Entrepreneurs, about whom a book has been written!
For me its definitely a must read!! Oct 12, Jay Sutariya rated it it was amazing. A great book for all aspiring entrepreneurs. A must read for all those people who think that starting a business is kid's stuff.
The book gives insight about some famous businessmen, despite being in IIM alumni have to face great challenges for their business and how they overcame that challenge. Sep 30, Chirag rated it did not like it Shelves: This is a Bad Book. Not inspirational. I read only one story. Dec 09, Saurabh rated it really liked it. Inspirational book..
The best part I would say is the practical advice that the author doles out for the aspiring entrepreneur after every biography of the IIM-A entrepreneurs featured. Jun 07, Chetna rated it liked it. Jun 10, Anagha rated it really liked it. A book worth reading.
I enjoyed a few stories. Sep 16, Muhammad Yunus added it. Feb 22, Yogiraj Banerji rated it it was amazing. This book was a motivation for me. It made me realize that there is no limit unless we impose some on ourselves.
Apr 23, Vishal Kale rated it really liked it. This is the first Rashmi Bansal book I am reading, and I have to admit that her writing makes for an interesting read. Stay Hungry Stay Foolish is a very interesting and diverse collection of stories of Entrepreneurs — I wont say Case Studies, as the focus is on the individual rather than the company, the Brand or the strategy employed. And this is just about the only negative I can spot in an otherwise near-flawless book on Business in India.
A worthy addition to any regular reader on Business This is the first Rashmi Bansal book I am reading, and I have to admit that her writing makes for an interesting read. A worthy addition to any regular reader on Business, rated 4 stars. This classification makes it interesting, to say the least. Perhaps the best part is that the Author has focused on a large cross-section of sectors, and has avoided the temptation of giving IT examples or new industry examples only.
You will find represented here examples from the sugar trade, retail, mining, education, finance, BPOs, apparels, healthcare, marketing and advertising, social enterprises, and more. Now this is the frontispiece, and the most important reason for reading this; a balanced and well-distributed collection that gives a good and fair representation of the entrepreneurial spirit in our country in modern times.
Read More: Mar 08, Vaishnavi Adapa rated it really liked it Shelves: Brilliant Read. People used to say that networks are the most important in a corporate career and I never felt that an IIM network would be as useful. So, I could feel good that I am from such a good college. About the people the author chose to write about, OMG! I cannot imagine leaving a job in 15 days after joining a multinational company or give up a lot of things just to listen to my heart over the bra Brilliant Read.
I cannot imagine leaving a job in 15 days after joining a multinational company or give up a lot of things just to listen to my heart over the brain. An inspiring read at the current point in my life. I was motivating and I took an important career decision in my life from an overall insight I got from this book.
If you askme what, I may not be able to say, but yes it was influencing and implicitly influenced an important decision I had to make. A simple read and for people in the current day MBA colleges, its a matter of jealousy tat MBA is no more so experimenting and no more like the one it was 20 years or more so back. Dec 03, Prabhat rated it really liked it Shelves: All characters in the each story are from middle class background.
The Stories are not immediate success stories, conceiving a project, hardwork, initial set backs, arranging for finance, foreign travel and foreign collaboration, finding partners, in some cases serv Stay Hungry Stay Foolish- Rashmi Bansal- IIM Ahmedabad Graduate has written this book after taking interviews of IIM Ahmedabad Graduates in various disciplines about entrepreneurship and converting dream projects in reality on field.
The Stories are not immediate success stories, conceiving a project, hardwork, initial set backs, arranging for finance, foreign travel and foreign collaboration, finding partners, in some cases serving wife is the initial financer, then after the project is settled she is a partner, crossing barriers of government red tape, convincing Bank and financial institutions about the viability of the project. Readers can connect with these stories immediately.
For parents, it is a world of make belive and trust in the decision of their children and encourage them to move forward in life. It is a must read bok for all.
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Readers Also Enjoyed. Self Help. About Rashmi Bansal. But there was no renegotiation of the valuation. There was a point when we were losing Rs. And we had about 18 months of money left. That was the lowest point - in late We knew the value of money because we had always been short of money.
So when this 7 crores came in, we were very careful about how we spent it. But the encouraging thing here was that revenue kept climbing as the company executed very well on sales. And this, Sanjeev says, happened largely because of Hitesh.
Hitesh had no sales experience - he was a commercial manager in Levers. But this was probably a good thing. He had no preconceived notions on 'how sales should be done'. No cobwebs. The company adopted a 'common sense approach'. A salesperson costs the company 10, rupees salary plus a mobile phone plus conveyance plus office space and use of the computer. All in all, 20, bucks a month. So if this salesman can recover Rs 25, a month, he is contributing. Then, you keep on hiring more and more sales guys, build structure and systems, open new branches and new markets.
And that's what Info Edge did. Every branch kept breaking even in six months, and before they knew it, Info Edge was a person sales organization with offices all over India. There were two years of losses and then the company broke even at Rs 9. Along the way, Info Edge moved into a larger, swankier office in Noida, opened several branches, invested in techonology platforms and people.
Today, Info Edge has 1, people of which 1, are in sales. There was already an executive search operation. The company added Jeevansathi matrimony site , 99acres and allcheckdeals. There are multiple lines of business but naukri is still the flagship brand, the one people have heard of the most. As the company grew and became more and more profitable, it became increasingly logical by to do an IPO.
At the time it had revenues of Rs 84 crores and profits of Rs 13 crores. In the year , revenues stood at Rs crores with post-tax profits of Rs 55 crores. Many companies go through a phase of high growth. But the Info Edge story is way beyond that. In , the annual turnover was a mere Rs 3 crores with losses of Rs 1. So we had massively underestimated our growth. The good bit was that whenever there was an audit in ICICI, on who committed what and is delivering what, we came out smelling like roses.
As the economy once again went into a growth phase and confidence in the internet was restored, naukri. There was a fundamental belief in the product. And the genuine need gap it addressed. But it does not work right now, perhaps it is ahead of its time Keep it, at the back of your mind. To connect different pieces of the puzzle and bring your concept to life.
Going to IT Asia was a wonderful break, but it was not something that just 'happened'. Sanjeev went to the expo every year, just to look around, get new ideas. He even had a strategy: Seek, and ye shall find! Entrepreneurs are seekers. And they are always open to change. There are different kind of pressures operating at each stage- you evolve, and learn to cope with them.
It wasn't easy. When you have smart people, they will demand their space. They will demand respect. You have to empower them and get out the way. What if the dotcom industry had remained in the doldrums? What if he was still trying to figure out how to connect those dots? How long does one hang in there? Decide to give up? Why did I keep going? And if you chase something long enough, sooner or later you will get lucky. If you are really lucky then you will do it in 5 years, if you are moderately lucky then you will do it in 10 years, if you are terribly unlucky you will do it in 15 years.
The point is to try long enough and hard enough. I think persistence is a quality that you have to have, to be a successful entrepreneur. You will find it in your heart to keep going. You will never lose hope. You see, there is no such thing as a failed entrepreneur. You are a failed entrepreneur only when you quit. Until then, you are simply not successful… yet.
You can make your mistakes while it is cheap to make them, when there is no competition. Do not exaggerate in your business plan. Undercommit and overdeliver. Get great people - sell them the vision, the idea and share the wealth, be generous with offering stock.
If you are starting a business to make money, don't do it. Chances are that you will fail, because there WILL be hard times. And if your motivation is not something beyond money, those hard times will test you. You will quit and go back to your job. But if you are doing something other than money, you will rough it through the hard times. I spotted the opportunity but I didn't know how big it was, how big it was going to be.
I just said this is a smart idea, I love it! And it happened to be the right idea, at the right place, at the right time… If you are in enough places, enough times and long enough, you get your breaks in some form or the other.
You just have to be smart enough to take them. Scaling up is also a lot about letting go. Get smart people. If they are truly smart and if they have their self belief, they will create their own space and they will do stuff that maybe you can't do.
Or may be you haven't thought of. And do keep in mind that every choice you make impacts the family. If you live in a particular part of town, it will obviously impact the kind of school your kids go to. Frankly, these were the choices, the implications of which I did not consider. Thankfully, things have turned out well; the children also, the family also.
Did they always know this is what they wanted from life or did an opportunity come up and light the way? He founded a company while still in college and started another one right after graduating from IIM Ahmedabad. The thing about Shantanu that strikes you is how much at ease he is as he relates the story. It's not like he made it big overnight, it's actually taken close to two decades. Your reality is what you make of it. If you see life with an 'all is wonderful in this world' pair of lenses, that's how it is.
This is against conventional wisdom. The middle class ethic of being careful and completely realistic about the big, bad world around you. But all I can say is the formula seems to have worked for Shantanu. But like I said, it's the attitude with which it's been built which is more interesting than the building itself.
Dad in SAIL, mom a school teacher, an upbringing no different from thousands of steel town kids in the s. In fact, I don't remember getting any presents except books. I used to read voraciously. And probably that unlocked something in the mind. Big thinking, big horizon and so on. So somewhere at the back of my mind I thought that if I need to make money, then working in a job is probably not going to do it for me.
The business was organising rock music concerts. Not that he had any particular fascination for rock music but it was a good opportunity. We made a lot of money. Rs lakhs - truly a lot of money 20 years ago! And then the stock market bug bit me.
So I used to be on the floor of Delhi Stock Exchange, every single day for almost two years. Till I lost all the money! And I thought it was really cool you know - we were not going to college, doing things which were more 'adult'.
It was just a completely different rush. Someone from our event management company flew down to deposit the form in Ahmedabad, because it was too late to post it. So it was all a last minute kind of a thing. A contract had been signed with Thums Up to do a series of concerts all over India. A concert in Bombay was yet to be staged. It was a great hit. Honestly, I didn't take it very seriously in the first year. Then in the second year, I said okay, let's see the curriculum, what it's all about.
I always had this bindaas outlook. Why are these kids studying so hard, what is there to take so seriously here, you know! That sort of a thing. Shantanu recalls that 17 of his batchmates joined Citibank at salaries of Rs , a month in Not surprisingly, Shantanu did not go for placements at all.
With his friend and partner from the event management business he launched a company focused on education. The idea was to set up computer labs for schools. The business model was innovative - the schools did not invest. They only paid a monthly fee for every student who used the lab and signed a multi-year contract. So there was this whole mystery around IT. When we went and spoke to school principals, they welcomed us with open arms saying these guys know more about how to retrofit a computer lab in the school than we do.
So we actually got off to a great start. Lots of schools. The turnover was Rs crores. Again, huge for But, there were ideological differences among the partners. But we were great friends, we are still very thick. If you have capital, great. If you don't, it doesn't mean you can't start. The partner kept the company and pretty much all the money, while he made a fresh start.
Educomp started very small. And with a different focus. Instead of hardware, Educomp went into software. On paper it seemed like a phenomenal market to automate schools - there is a real pain that you are trying to address. But it wasn't a very successful product. After getting the product into 10 schools Shantanu realised that every school wants customisation. And they don't want to pay for the customisation.
But while on campus you appreciate none of it because you haven't gone through the grind. Not understanding what running a business means, you later relearn all those lessons the hard way.
I had two employees in the very beginning. Even before it was fully developed, we started going to the market and selling the product. And I think I am quite a good salesperson. So I managed to convince a number of schools to download it and business started growing. Today if you look at the product portfolio, the company has footprints in almost every space from KG to class And I think it's more a mindset issue than anything else.
But I didn't seem to mind at all at that point in time. I was so completely obsessed with what I was doing and what I was building. So every single year of my life when I look back, I thought, that was the coolest year of my life. That I was doing the most significant things that I could ever hope to do. So one way to describe myself would be, you know, an eternal optimist. When you are an optimist some of the external environment stuff doesn't really bother you.
It never bothered me. Very slow initially. Then the company started growing. In the year , the topline was around Rs 12 crores. Because a lot of people start a business but most of them are never able to work that scale-up magic. Shantanu believes there are two questions which need to be asked: With an IIM Ahmedabad degree, the risk is not much. You can always go and start something. If it doesn't work out, somebody will give you a job Secondly, the universe of opportunity in India is phenomenal.
There are million kids going to school. There are one million schools, five million teachers, all of that stuff.
And Educomp can keep growing per cent over the next 10 years. Without reaching a saturation point. As far as we were concerned, we were passionate about it and believed this was the way to improve the quality of education. To grow, you need people. Good people. Of course all companies start with just a few, with the founder managing all the strategic functions.
The question every entrepreneur grapples with then is, how can I get more people as good, or better than me? But the problem was, the high quality smart people didn't want to work with me… So it was a lot of struggle.
It means not just a big fat salary cheque, but things like stock options, feeling of partnership, being part of a start-up organisation, fast growth, all of that. There are 4, employees at Educomp but the attrition rate is amazingly low, at less than three per cent. Aisa kyun?
And the company is growing per cent a year, we are now five times larger than our nearest competitor in India in this space And the heat of growth is fuelled by a timely dose of venture capital. It wasn't much of a struggle given the IT and dotcom boom at the time. The funding was wrapped up in two months. Did life change after the funding?
The canvas was always large. With more money you can just download more paint and do a better painting. We are very happy we took the company public rather than take private equity money.
But 20 years into the business, isn't a sense of fatigue setting in? Educomp is valued at about one and a half billion dollars as of May I think we can be a ten billion dollar company in the next three years.
So I am certainly there, in charge, driving growth for the company. For example, Educomp is now building schools. The company will invest Rs. The company is planning to get into higher education as well as making acquisitions outside of India. But I felt the same way in !
The desire to see your company doing better and better and better. And there is always a 'next milestone'. I never had the dilemma: Am I doing the right thing? Should I just shut this down and go take up a job? But I think for me personally, understanding how value is created is a very fascinating subject.
Studying consumer behaviour, getting new products out into the market, working with really smart people, it's a rush. But have there been any sacrifices on the family front? So let him do whatever he wants… When I got married, certainly I was an entrepreneur at that time, my wife was understanding.
But business every year has become more and more demanding of my personal time. And that is a much more expensive sacrifice than money. Even this interview is scheduled on a Sunday afternoon, right after lunch. Yes, had I been working in a job, I would have been very conscious of leisure time, very conscious of how much I am working. Here I am working for myself. I had decided a long time ago that the next 10 years of my life I am completely going to devote to building up my company.
Maybe I am not intelligent enough to balance or do this right, I am not proud of the fact. I think the ideal situation is to be successful professionally and take out enough time for your family and for other vocations, hobbies. That's something that I guess I will have to learn. There is no way that you will be economically rewarded lesser for being an entrepreneur than by taking up a job.
Recently, Educomp invested in an online tutoring company. Chandan Aggarwal, Riju and Mohit. There is no way you can do that if you are doing a job. Two years you may struggle.
If the average salary is Rs. After tax, you make some 50 lakhs. In 5 years, I can guarantee you, any business you do, will earn you that. Assuming that you are at least a little bit intelligent, within a year, the valuation of your business itself will exceed fifty lakhs.
No matter what you do. So if a 24 year old entrepreneur came to me, I would say choose anything that you want, that interests you, the internal passion you have. How to choose what to do? Miss a particular turning and you have to go several kilometers in the wrong direction, until you find your way back. Kind of like what happens in life. You make a plan, even a roadmap. But there could be a vehicle coming at you at full speed from right around the bend. Vinayak Chatterjee has faced these bends with courage and recovered from accidents of fate.
Feedback Ventures had a near death experience. Not once, but three times. Each time Vinayak managed to save it from extinction and hang in there, eventually taking the company to new heights.
Vinayak's story tells you that ability matters, determin- ation matters, but ultimately so does destiny. When life deals you a rough hand, it's not about how smart you are but how many people out there believe in you. It's the relationships you've built and the trust you've deposited in the Goodwill Bank which you will draw on. To get that second lease of life.
His father was a production supervisor in a jute factory. My mother was a lecturer in Calcutta University, she taught economics and political science. So a reasonably middle class life, very small town upbringing, only child. After schooling in Calcutta, Vinayak decided to go to Delhi for higher studies.
I am talking about the mid '70s. In any case, because I lived far away, I had to stay in a hostel. I had some seniors, cousins from whom I had heard of St Stephen's. I applied and got in. Instead of being diffident about it, Vinayak meshed in extremely well there, forged some deep friendships and became extremely confident.
Certainly a valuable three years! The prevailing value system in a middle class Bengali family for a child who does economics is to emulate Amartya Sen. Vinayak would have been happy enough to complete graduation and then go on to the Delhi School of Economics. But then there was the dilemma: But if you don't go take admission to IIMA, you are closing the gate. Take a look! Not for the grades and all that but for the quality of what I thought were puerile courses. He enjoyed courses such as business policy and marketing which had a wider perspective.
But Vinayak still didn't know what he wanted to do in life. It was a high profile job and Vinayak took the pre-placement offer that came his way. Two weeks after getting the confirmation letter, Vinayak told his boss he wanted to resign. I can't put a finger on it even now. But I just didn't feel my job had any content. It meant nothing. I looked at myself in the mirror and said that if these products don't mean anything to me, I am probably being untrue both to myself as well as to my employers to hang around in the job.
But Vinayak was clear about what he didn't want. Which is a start. I am an only child. They said, we told you to go to D School and do economics. Why did you go to IIMA and chase this The truth is, it all just happened. In hindsight, you can call it strategy. But it was important to do something. Something respectable. Vinayak had always enjoyed writing. So he thought why not combine the business degree with journalism? And an offer from Ashok Advani, to become the Bombay correspondent for the recently set up Business India.
So there is no hurry to take up a job. I chose the business policy area and started library work. Professor VL Mote called Vinayak to his house.
And there he met Raunaq Singh, chairman of the Apollo group. Vinayak hadn't heard of him back then. Prof Mote introduced Raunaq, saying he has a company called Apollo Tyres which is badly in debt because the government had nationalised it.
There is a long history to this - the company was given back to the family after a Supreme Court judgement in But essentially, the chairman wanted an MBA to turn around the company. The other half was still not clear what I wanted to do with life. But picking up ideas, picking up opportunities, some being created, some coming my way, picking, moving on. The next three years - to - were extremely challenging.
Because in those years, Apollo Tyres actually turned around. The work was hectic but satisfying. Very different from selling more cold cream. This was all about being part of the big picture - getting your hands dirty, taking small and big decisions which re-engineered the very DNA of the company.
Revamping 22 branch offices, product development, marketing. There was a lot of environment management in those days - licensing, pacing the corridors for loans from IDBI, industry meetings, tyre industry associations.
I got dhakkaoed but I learnt a lot. In many senses, Apollo Tyres was my finishing school. They grounded me in practical management ki Hindustan mein business chalaane mein kya hota hai. The other thing was that having seen the world top-down, from the chairman's office, Vinayak realised that he still wasn't excited by the proverbial rat race.
So what? And that's what sparked the idea of becoming an entrepreneur. It was she who brought to his notice a business opportunity. It was the first real competition IMRB had tasted. By this time Vinayak felt it was time to do something new. He was all of I am not a details guy.
I am better at strategy, marketing and networking than operations. Also his wife Rumjhum, who was a Calcutta University psychology graduate. Each member of the team brought in some special skills. He is the current vice chairman of Feedback Ventures. Jain and Rashmi Malik are no longer with the company. The team decided that starting a market research firm made sense and put in Rs. That name has stayed, though the company has nothing to do with marketing anymore. The first thing the young entrepreneurs did was meet Prakash Tandon and ask him to be their honorary chairman.
To celebrate this, Feedback threw a large party and blew up half of its initial capital! But luckily, clients were not hard to find. Batchmates from IIMA had reached managerial level. Someone was with Nestle, somebody in AmEx. Market research projects started coming in. The market research business… but you know in this line, events overtake you.
Serendipity, not well chalked out strategy. Will you do it? Feedback went in as market research consultants. So we ended up building a factory. Then word spread that this group of guys from IIMA, professional ethical chaps are available to do this kind of work.
Narasimha Rao was the Prime Minister, India was opening up. FDI had just started coming in and with delicensing, many new multinationals were entering the country. Feedback helped set up the Coca Cola plant, General Motors plant and several other industrial plants. And the business model shifted. Feedback vacated the market research space to focus on setting up factories. We were number four in the country, with branch offices, good clients.
It was a good business but we somehow got more excited by the projects story. Soap ka colour, toothpaste ka taste - that kind of thing. But to get into land, FIPB, industrial policy, civil engineering, machinery clearances, import licenses - the value chain seemed far more exciting and interesting. Money is a by-product. Business growth, turnover, bottomline is a by product of what your heart and head want you to do.
So if you follow that, money will follow. Woh Gandhi waali baat hai. Unless it's a stupid idea! The switch to projects happened easily and naturally for Feedback, there was no real sacrifice involved. Word spread and work flowed in. Then a state government heard about Feedback. So by the mid nineties, we got into industrial parks from factories. The plan is to ramp up to 5, in the next years. But surely there must have been some bumps on this road? Some tipping point?
And that happened because of a meeting with Mr Deepak Parekh. And he, in many senses, has been a mentor for me, personally, as well as for the company. But it doesn't force you to work for anybody else. It's an education degree, that's all. These are the two biggest shareholders and the chairman is common - Deepak Parekh. And he took a lot of interest in Feedback, guided the company, suggested it should go for private equity. One piece of advice from him which Feedback took was: And it wasn't so fashionable back then either.
Factory banaa rahe the. But is it necessary to vacate an existing space to capture a new one? Don't many companies somehow manage both? Well, many do but Feedback has always just moved from one thing to the next. We are putting up 5, kms of roads and SEZs, even hospitals. We do advisory but our biggest volume business now is engineering. We have engineers and we do everything from fundamental engineering and designing to construction, supervision and project management.
Consulting comes easy to MBAs, but hardcore engineering and execution of mega projects is a whole different cup of coffee. How did that happen? The company was called HSS Integrated. Basically, they brought in pre-qualification, or PQ, and in a few years Feedback bought them out.
The question is which came first, the chicken or the egg? The infrastructure position or the JV? There is something called destiny also that comes into play. Of course, one has to be a little opportunistic. We didn't think that much. With 5, kilometers of roads, bridges and industrial parks to its credit. Is that a conscious choice? We don't require brand equity more than that. I can't even handle the traffic today - my order books are bursting.
Increase market penetration, market share, market size in existing lines of business. But it wasn't a smooth ride all the way. There was, in fact, a point when the company almost shut down.
We had negative cash flows. And Parekh lowered a lifeline. Some divisions were shut, people were asked to leave. Also the transition from advisory to infrastructure was not taken very kindly by some of the senior management. To cut a long story short, three times in its history, for reasons of bad business planning, or wrong decisions, Feedback came close to liquidation.
If some friends or institutional assistance had not bailed the company out, put in money without any security or collateral, purely on faith Feedback would have been history. The financial debt is cleared, we are debt-free today, but it is a very humbling experience. But if you are honest to your purpose, you've never cheated anybody and you show clear focus, commitment, there are people in society who will go out of their way to back you.
Of course, there were hard decisions but always a sense of fair play. Sab ka salary kaata. Each time the mistake was a different one?
Then at one point we got tempted to think we could be developers. So we took a license to develop a acre township, put a lot of time and effort behind it and then realised that we were inadequately capitalised.
Everybody can't do everything. And we realised that it was not in our DNA to be a developer. Each time it was tough. But once you come out of it, you are stronger. But every entrepreneur I meet scoffs at the idea. At most the partners would lose the Rs.
A reasonable amount in those days but well worth it. There was no livelihood risk - jobs would always be available. And a year blip in your early 20s would hardly mean losing the rat race. We just decided to be thick skinned about it. I am more than my visiting card or salary slip. There was excessive hype and glamour about multinationals but I just never got what's so great about selling Dreamflower talc in rural India.
I care a damn! And that applies to just about anything.
Joh karna hai tumhe zindagi mein, woh karo. If your inner voice says you really love the rat race and can be great in the rat race, please do it. Just don't attach any value systems to it.
Many of my batchmates have made great careers for themselves, built great brand equity, done well as global managers. If your inner voice says, that's my route, go for it! If your inner voice says, my route is social entrepreneurship, do it. If your inner voice says, I want to be an author, journalist, write books, please do it! And look at the brand equity that he has today. What I find is many people hear that inner voice but just don't have the conviction to act upon it.
Don't get too concerned about peer pressure. You may be successful, you may be unsuccessful, but in the philosophical market, what is success and what is failure? I don't want to put a premium on entrepreneurship. It's not a fad or fashion to follow.
So my only piece of advice is find purpose, means will follow. Life's journey will take you wherever it is. Don't worry about the fruits. Woh Geeta wali baat hai - nishkaam karmayoga - duty without desire But be prepared to stick it out.
Remember Narayana Murthy's quote: That is the story of Mastek.
Mastek may not be the biggest Indian IT company in terms of size or scale, but it is certainly one with a lesson for many an entrepreneur wanting to start a company with his college buddies. More than friends getting together though, it is friends staying together for 25 years that is intriguing.
Because partnerships which endure are such a rare thing in today's world! Many a dream is born on an IIM campus, only to die out when faced with the real world. However Ashank, Ketan and Sundar kept that dream alive and made it happen. What's more they did this in an era when it took, on average, 15 years to get a telephone connection. And you could start an IT company, but forget about owning a PC.
But life in the Doordarshan era was kinder and gentler. There was less pressure to perform, and leeway to make some mistakes. The team was young and flexible, and figured out a way. And they had patience, which is another commodity in short supply today! I may not have managed to smuggle out anything of value to customs, but two hours with Ashank left me feeling richer for the experience. Yet he had the keeda of entrepreneurship somewhere, at the back of his mind. This was in the year There are always stories about how rock bands get formed.
And it's the same with companies. How do the founders actually come together? Usually they are classmates, colleagues or old friends. The group would sit and discuss what kind of venture they could take up after passing out.
So inspiration, advice, contacts, all that happened in IIMA. Their interest in the project indicated to the team that they were on the right track. Of course, there was this feeling that it's fine to plan but once you get a job, once you get married, all this will be over. Yet somehow they managed to keep the spark alive.
Ashank's employer, Godrej, offered the advantage of a house. So the friends literally 'stayed together'. The flatmates spent most nights chatting away till 2 am, discussing their business plans. But finally they settled on IT because it required less investment, no manufacturing and also, it was a field they were comfortable with. The other big decision was to be based in Mumbai, for reasons of both head and heart. But did Mastek actually see the full potential of IT? The way in which it would transform all our lives?
Yes and no. But they did know IT was important to companies at a strategic level; software as a field would grow. By this time Ashank was married and so he was the last to quit, six months later. Mastek was born in Ghatkopar, where Ketan had a house. The total investment was Rs 15, Business started coming in through friends and contacts. It was a classic management problem. Richardson Hindustan were manufacturers of Vicks.
The dilemma they faced was whether to manufacture in advance and stock goods or produce just in time. There were costs and benefits associated with each option. They're young and might have a fresh approach. I am very proud of that, although it is so small compared to our size as a company today.
But I still feel good about it and in fact, I talk about that example when I address new recruits. Luckily, Wasan was good at that. That first contract was worth Rs 30, and also fetched Mastek a bonus for completing the work ahead of time. Like many other MBAs who take up entrepreneurship, Mastek capitalised on the intellectual capital of its founding team to get into the game. How you leverage this advantage and take the company to the next level is the crux of every success story.
It was a 35 square foot office, but it was in the prestigious Mittal Towers. The other problem was that there was no phone in Ghatkopar, it used to take 15 years to get a connection in those days! A jeweller friend agreed to take their calls, but he stopped when there were one too many!
We did not have a computer for the first five years, can you imagine that? The business was executed at the customer's office, on their machines.
Like all new businesses, it took time to stabilise. We were not earning money At this point, friends and batchmates working for multinational companies were 'moving up in life' while the Mastek team was travelling second class. So, once in a while, the thought of closing down and getting back to a job did come to mind.
But what carried the team was two things - moral support from the family and the vision of building an institution. Mastek had, in fact, started hiring people soon after it started operations. One of the important people who joined Mastek early on was Sudhakar. He was working with Rediffusion, a client of Mastek, and was so impressed with the young company that he asked to come on board as a partner. Meanwhile one of the founders, Wasan, moved on. The PC had just been launched and Mastek was the only software company to advertise there.
The company bagged orders from companies like Citibank and Hindustan Lever through its visibility at this event. So Mastek started getting some kind of traction in the market and somewhere, the IIM brand also helped. You can see some longer period in terms of business. Some profit, or at least a breakeven. By year six, Mastek was in Dataquest magazine's list of top software companies in the domestic market. The company was ranked 6.
We are not small now! Where to, from here? Ashank believes there is a difference in the trajectory followed by Mastek, compared to other software companies. It introduced both financial accounting and stock broking packages. Selling these packages, as well as custom made software, made for a sound business. But it was clear that high growth would be possible only through exports. The question was, how does one crack the overseas market?
In time some banks started giving credit against invoices. Neither did it have a family or friends network in the US. In fact, it took 10 years. Ashank was the first person from Mastek to go abroad.