Five Insights From Successful Indian Entrepreneurs
I have been reflecting on some of the successful Indian entrepreneurs to learn from them. After all, we look up to those who run (or ran) in-front of us for inspiration & instruction.
Here I note five insights I gained from such reflection.
- Dhirubhai Ambani: There are many American rags-to-riches stories. Dhirubhai's is the first Indian rags-to-riches story. He was smart in capitalising every opportunity to grow his empire. But there is one strategy that he employed at every venture. He took pains to educate every stakeholder—regulators, common public and market— about his venture. For Dhirubhai, educating stakeholders was part of doing business.
NRN: NRN showed that it is possible to build a clean business in India. He was also generous in sharing his wealth with employees. No entrepreneur practiced employee share option in India like NRN did. He made his employees millionaires.
NRN shaped my generation's view of employee compensation. If employees are part of wealth-creation, then they should be part of wealth-enjoyment too.
The Bansals: Bansals were not intimidated by Goliath sized competition. They dreamt big and made flipkart the biggest e-commerce store in India. The exponential growth may be because of a single thing that every top executive, including the founders do. Everyone of them take part in customer service calls.
It is one thing to talk to prospects but it is another experience to talk to customers making service calls. It reveals broken products, broken processes, and broken promises. It's the duty of a CEO to fix these, before they destroy the company.
Vivek: I've been following Vivek since I interviewed him. He left privileges and prestige of working in an MNC to start his company. While he was taking public transport, his classmates were buying luxury cars. I'm sure it was a trying time. But Vivek believed in his idea and persevered. Reward for his perseverance came in the form of lucky break from Y-Combinator. Last time I checked, his company's client list is impressive. It includes Facebook. Adobe, Yelp and Evernote. The best in the list? White House.
Perseverance is one of the traits that sets apart an entrepreneur. Having left a cushy job to start DSD, I hope to persevere like Vivek to achieve our mission.
Girish Mathrubootham: In Tamil there is a saying, 'வம்பு சண்டைக்கு போகாதே. வந்த சண்டையை விடாதே'. In entrepreneurs' language, it means, "Never start a crisis; Never waste a crisis". Girish lived up to it when his competitor ZenDesk came knocking with nasty comments. He didn't get into a pig fight with them. He punched them with a knack. He put up a landing page and presented his story with facts. But he didn't stop there. He hit the growth pedal so strong that ZenDesk had no option than to recognise his company as a competitor, in their SEC filing.
Crises are inevitable part of building companies. I can't avoid crises, but, I hope, when they come, I will be as street-smart as Girish in turning them into a great opportunity for growth.
- Educating your stakeholders is part of doing business
- Let your employees be millionaires too
- Attend customer service calls as often as possible
- Persevere in your idea
- Never waste a crisis
I'm thankful for those who have paved a way before me. Because of their effort, my journey is little better.
Who are the successful entrepreneurs you look up to and what have they taught you? Care to share?