After working for around five years with large organisations, adjusting to a mindset of being an entrepreneur is a difficult thing. However, once you get used to it, it's a great pleasure. And the only reason for the same is the fact that every achievement or failure brings a challenge, learning, appreciation and of course de-motivation. The emotions are very different from each other, and small achievements are cherished.
The only thing which I don't think I know, as of now, is the consistency and persistence to feel motivated - day after day - for years. Like master blaster Sachin, who played for so long, I think it is the entrepreneur who goes to bat every day, practices every day, goes through the same shots, survives and thrives. I think that is a different challenge and probably comes only after you have gone through 7-10 years of doing the stuff.
Learning from mistakes
Like any other entrepreneur, I, too, can write and fill sheets after sheet on the learning I have had during my career. When I started, I felt it was all about sales and signing the customer. Soon I realised that unless you deliver well, it won't work. When we closed the first year at Jade Magnet, we had huge issues regarding payment collection. That was the first time I realised and learnt the importance of cash flow and collections. Then, we went to multiple geographies in India and outside for hiring people, but realised that motivating people sitting far away was a challenge. I used to think that everyone who joins a startup is equally motivated and would run and manage on his own, but I found myself sitting on the wrong side. By the third year, profitability was a challenge. But amongst all these, I think the biggest learning is really to go through the process every day, sleep with mistakes and wake up with solutions rather than excuses.
Indian startup ecosystem vs Silicon Valley
It has grown tremendously since we started around four years ago. Startups are getting huge support from mentors, angel funds and incubators.
I feel that there is no point comparing our system with that of Silicon Valley or feeling bad about the distance. We need to travel because everything goes through a cycle and there's no way you can achieve a century without making half a century. I feel the ecosystem is good, startups are maturing, scaling and growing, entrepreneurs are becoming more ambitious and smarter and funding system is becoming more and more solid. But yes, I feel that it still has a long way to go to catch up with the Silicon Valleys in the world.
Are investors a pain to manage?
Like most people would say, there's no right answer. I don't think managing investors is a pain because if you can't manage your own people (investors) you can't manage customers or employees either.
There are businesses which require funds to scale and grow. So, you can't survive and thrive without it (you don't have an option here). While on the other hand, the services business can grow step by step without raising money from angels/VC. However, again, it depends on the speed with which you want to grow. You can't go to five cities or hire 50 people etc if you don't have the money. Whether that money comes from angels, VCs or banks is the choice an entrepreneur needs to make.
Although we haven't raised VC money yet, I think the funding ecosystem is good and is maturing. If you have a great idea, I don't think money is a problem at all. However, if there are check points which are missed, then you would struggle.
(Manik Kinra is co founder & chief marketing officer of Jade Magnet Online Pvt Ltd, which enables businesses to 'crowdsource' design projects. As told to our Bangalore correspondent Sainul K Abudheen).