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ASK RUDRAJEET Anything about Starting Up!

As a part of our ASK RODINHOODERS series, we are proud to present Rudrajeet Desai. None of us actually know that Rudrajeet is our first Rodinhooder – no, he didn’t sign up first on trhs. But he was one of the first aspiring entrepreneurs to be mentored by Alok!! Rudrajeet is often seen at our Open Houses with a camera in his hand, plonked on the carpet and sure enough he is the first to share insights with the Rodinhooder who is presenting! 

Rudrajeet is the perfect dude to seek help from if you are an early stage entrepreneur. Needless to say, he will go out of his way to help you! He is Humble with a capital H 🙂

About Rudrajeet

“I am a 35 year old first generation entrepreneur. Co-Founder & CEO of ideacts innovations… an Internet Media company that runs the worlds largest Cyber Café Management System called iCafe Manager. I have raised 3 rounds of venture capital from Sequoia and Saama Capital (SVB) – lead the company as a CEO for 8 years – grown from a small garage to a multi-million dollar business – downsized once – seen 2 recessions and expanded into more products. 

I have also written a book Breaking Out and Making Big on Startups & Entrepreneurship and recently launched a mobile app on my own called moviebuddy on Google Play. 

I am a Sales & Advertising professional by work ex, having worked in Group M, mobile2win, BPL Mobile and Cadbury India. A Product and Tech guy by passion and expertise.

 

What can you ask me?

I am a guy with very limited amount of knowledge about a very few things in life – can’t even name all 11 players in the Indian cricket team… But you can ask a lot of stuff on Startups & Entrepreneurship. I have played the role of a Truthful Mirror to many startups and most of them have thanked me 🙂 

Product Development & Product ideas

Internet & Mobile Technology

Venture Funding

Organisation Structure

Marketing

Design, UI, UX

Hiring & Team Building

 

I promise to give you a blunt, to the face honest opinion in very few words, which in most cases no one else would give you – so go ahead and ask…”

**** 

Rudrajeet is following this page – so go ahead and ask him all you want to in the comments below!

 

@rudrajeet is on twitter too! 

*****

 

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49 Comments

  1. Profile photo of Rudrajeet Desai

    Great work by Asha in starting up this section and happy to be a part of something so awesome… 

    Look forward to being Asked !!! 

  2. Profile photo of Abhik Prasad

    Hey Rudrajeet, 

    I figured i might as well make use of this opportunity 🙂

    We are writing a book on personal finance due for launch on the 15th of June. Instead of going via a publisher, we are self publishing (figured once it gets some traction we could approach publishers for the second edition)

    Any pre / post launch marketing tips that you can suggest that might have worked for your book.

    Instead of just listing chapters, we have built an interactive tool which people can use to get a sense of the stuff they will find in the book and if it will be useful for them or not. Can you share some feedback on it too if you have some time. It’s available here: http://theblueprintbook.in

    Thanks a ton in advance 🙂

  3. Profile photo of Saraswathi Pulluru

    Hi Rudrajeet,

    Thank you for sharing your experiences via your book. I just downloaded via Amazon and started reading it.

    After working for 12+ years in telecom consulting, now I lead the product development team in my current company. But, it is more of a development lead rather than a product lead.

    Now, I often think of transitioning to a proper product manager. How can I do this? Few of my friends suggested to take the Certified Product Manager, but I  am not sure it will really help.

    Thanks in advance.

  4. Profile photo of Ashish Chowdhary

    Hi Rudrajeet,

    I’ll get directly to point: Someone has shown interest in investing in our startup. I want to understand the nuances of investment and what things I should take care so as to protect my interests..

  5. Profile photo of Rudrajeet Desai

    Hey Abhik… nice to emeet you and sorry for the late revert… am out of town for some work and should be back on Sunday… will revert back as soon as i get back. Hope that works… Thanks 

  6. Profile photo of Rudrajeet Desai

    Ashish – Congrats on the offer… this is a point that needs a lil longish chat than what we can achieve here… If you are fine we can get on a call sometime next week and take it ahead… Let me know a convenient time… also, can you share a bit more on your startup. you can write to me on rudrajeet@hotmail.com 

  7. Profile photo of Rudrajeet Desai

    hey Saraswathi… if you are looking at larger companies then that might help a bit, but for startups i dont think it would help much… Startups are always in need of Tech background folks who can do Prod Dev… 

    to be a good Prod Manager you have to know the product and all sides related to it very deeply… one thing i can suggest is that if you have ever thought about building any product on your own then a good start might be to start penning it down in what can be called as a Scope Doc. 

    http://www.nextbigwhat.com/unpluggd/ – there is a day in this conf only of Product Management that might also interest you 

    let me know if i can be of any more help… 

  8. Profile photo of Vimlesh Gautam

    Hi Rudrajeet,

    My name is Vimlesh and currently working on an idea of building a platform in the mobility space. I have been doing research on it and want to convert the idea into a working business. However i am unable to move forward as there are areas where i don’t have any experience. Could you please guide me on how to move my idea forward.

    Thank youVimlesh

  9. Profile photo of Akash Gupta

    I always had one doubt in picking VCs-  Almost everyone says that choose those who have experience and portfolio in same domain. Say online grocery.. Some who had invested in bigbasket and also vying to invest in me then it may also be possible that since he has made series B in big basket and have more stakes in it, may try to debauch me if bigbasket starts to lose in the game? If i ask them to sign NDA, they gonna call me amateur. There is always a possibility that such investor may starve me to death, to save his bigger investment.
    So shouldn’t we choose someone who have experience of that industry but have not invested in big time competitor!

    Ps: Example is hypothetical.

  10. Profile photo of Mukat Jain

    Hi Rudra….i am running one online portal for home delivery of multibrand icecreams (Hokey Pokey, Baskin Robbins, London dairy, Mother dairy & all other major brands)  in Gurgaon by the name http://www.miga.in (Formely known as http://www.mithigaraari.com)

    Want to have some guidance from you for 2 major areas:

    1) Marketing of my products

    2) Scaling up my business in terms of products addition (for both Summers & winter)

    Will be happy with your honest feedback/suggestion…..Thanks

  11. Profile photo of asha chaudhry

    mukat – you’ve already reached out to abhik for marketing advice. 

    can you pls be very specific while reaching out to other rodinhooders who are volunteering their time and energy for others?? state your problems. tell them where you are stuck. or write a detailed post in ASK so everyone can help you!

  12. Profile photo of Rudrajeet Desai

    i will need a lot more information Vimlesh to be able to guide towards something… you can write to me on rudrajeet@outlook.com

  13. Profile photo of Rudrajeet Desai

    a very classic question and doubt Aakash… 

    VC generally are very ethical and honest people in what they do and generally in life… you dont get to handle billions of dollars of some of the top organisations in the world by having any fraudulent bone in your body. Industry also does not throw up any such examples… They are far beyond such petty games… VCs are also very cautious of their reputation as that matters the most in startups decision to take an investment… one bad example like this can make them shut their shop…

    many VCs have invested in competitors, Tiger and Sequoia are 2 examples, and I dont think any of their founders would be uncomfortable with it. I would rate their experience in that industry a lot higher than the fear of they hurting my business. hope it helps… 

  14. Profile photo of Akash Gupta

    Indeed a valuable advice. Thank you sir.

  15. Profile photo of Vimlesh Gautam

    Thanks Rudrajeet for your response. I will write to with more details.

  16. Profile photo of Saraswathi Pulluru

    Sorry for the late response. Many thanks for your valuable suggestions.

    If I want to target product manager position, I need some real world experience. I can get real world experience only if I get a job. 🙁

    Is there a minimum list of things I can be proficient in, before aiming to crack this interview. I really want to get into this position.

    Thanks a ton Rudrajeet 🙂

  17. Profile photo of Anirudh B Balotiaa

    This is terrific!

    Getting to hear advise directly from people on the ground and been there done that is superb! 🙂 

    Thanks Rudrajeet in advance for your time, anyone’s time is the ONLY thing one should never take for granted! 

    My specific question is if one wants to start its own Consultancy in UX, what’s the best way to get going? I am UX Designer, but been thinking about going solo for a long time. Confused, whether going solo is what I would be able to manage. 

    On the other hand, paradoxically, I am enjoying my current job but the excitement/enthusiasm has been fading slowly but gradually due to various reasons. How can one grow in UX? 


    P.S. – Ordering your book. 🙂 

  18. Profile photo of Rudrajeet Desai

    Hey Abhik – A million apologies for the delayed revert… had been unwell for a few days in the middle… 

    Firstly Congrats on the Book… Indeed a must have book 

    My book had a different story as I got lucky with getting Harper Collins as a Publisher in the first go… their name, reach, market credibility helped me a lot. Hence not much of marketing was needed for my book. Also, it was the first book they published on the topic of New Age Startups, hence had some good traction. 

    Unless there is a very specific reason, why you are not approaching a known Publisher, I would suggest you try to approach one… I can get you through HC easily. Its a world of a difference when you do it on your own and with someone like them. 

    My website also helped me a lot… http://www.breakingoutandmakingbig.com – just increases the virality – so good work on that… My suggestion as a Internet and Mobile guy is that you could have more visuals on the site than text… It appeals a lot more and is quick in getting the message out. You should send it out to get book reviews… especially from publications which are related to your subject of finance and saving 

    how are you publishing it currently? the Hard Copy especially? though ebook sales are on the rise, Hard Copy certainly helps in creating the Brand

    let me know if i can help you with anything more… 

  19. Profile photo of Rudrajeet Desai

    Hey Anirudh… UI / UX is great thing to be good at and is getting to become equivalent to Gold as we progres… 

    There are 2 ways to go Solo… Freelancer and Company… As a freelancer, you will be able to do what you love, which is actually building UI / UX… but if you move towards building a company, then some day you will become a manager and will just hire and fire people… and do sales calls… no matter what your expertise it, every entrepreneur ends up doing the same thing eventually… 

    As a freelancer, depending on your monetary requirement, it might take you sometime to reach a level where you could make as much as you can from salary. Main reason being, in India we still combine our UI / UX with our web design and creative agency 

    Ideal would be if you want / can to do side projects along with your job… many people start like that on individual expertise… just like testing waters before you take a final jump…

    hope it helps! 

  20. Profile photo of Anirudh B Balotiaa

    Hi Rudrajeet, sorry for the late acknowledgement! 

    Yes it does help! 

    There is always a trade-off in everything and going solo or doing what you love even being in a company is a tough call! 

    Any tips on how to get started on the side-projects right, I don’t know if there are sites where one can keep track of freelance UI/UX work?

    Thanks once again! 

  21. Profile photo of Rudrajeet Desai

    i dont know of any… but am sure there would be 

    TheRodinhood itself is a great place to start from… create a PDF profile and post it here and you could get some leads… making a website with a few pages will also help… reach out to as many design / digital agencies… most of them have creative designers who call themselves UI / UX designers… 

    I am always in need such work… and always finding better work than what i have… if you can send me your profile / work, i could be your first lead 🙂 

  22. Profile photo of Anirudh B Balotiaa

    Super! 

    Though mostly all my stuff is propriety of where I work, which I wont be able to share, do have a look at my LinkedIn Profile and my Blog to get some idea of my profile and thoughts. Website is in progress, recently started taking this seriously. 

    Then we can take it offline if you feel there is a need which can be filled. 

    My email – anirudhbbalotiaa@gmail.com 

    Thanks, much appreciated! 

  23. Profile photo of Harshit

    Pl help validate/review my logistics startup idea.

    My idea is to provide RELIABLE logistics service which will help to move your things let it be machines, any raw material or household, just anything from place A to B.

    I don’t want customers to get reports from logistics providers “Sir maal nikal gaya hai aata hi hoga” or damaged products.

    Revenue would be definately on commission basis.

    Before I go deep into detail & start networking I want all rodinhooders review on this idea. Pl help me know pros & cons, also any other tips & advice.

  24. Profile photo of Aman Sharma

    Hi Rudrajeet

    I have been working on a business idea in religious/spiritual industry for quiet a some time now and I am on a verge to launch it digitally in another 3-4 weeks time. As I have been advancing on making my business idea/concept ready I have been in discussion with some retail investors to seed fund the venture and have got a positive response on the concept.

    I wanted your expert advice on is this the right stage to go and showcase  concept/product to investors or I should let the venture to start making some success(revenue) and then approach them.

    According to my business model we start making revenues from the day one.

    Pls. advice

    Regards

    Aman

  25. Profile photo of Aman Sharma

    Hi Rudrajeet

    Is it possible for you to spare some time from your schedule and if I can see you personally to share my business plan and also take inputs on latest and best fit technology tool for our product.

    Pls. let  me know if its possible.

    Regards

    Aman

  26. Profile photo of asha chaudhry

    hi aman, the whole idea of ASK RODINHOODER pages is to enable every rodinhooder some guidance and make each page a resource pool for the entire community. so i would urge you to pls ask your questions/queries/confusions here – that’s the best way online communities work. and afterwards if you come to a stage where you require one on one you could perhaps request rudrajeet for a call. he is volunteering to help rodinhooders, so his time is precious 🙂

  27. Profile photo of Vimlesh Gautam

    Hi Rudrajeet,

    We are looking out for seed funding for our technology start-up idea. While researching on linkedin found many people who are angel investors but then is there any way to find who is the right angel investor? As at this stage any investor for us seems more than welcome but how do we know that an angel investor will add value to the company. Also can you please guide if there are any forums to connect with angel investors who will be ready for investing seed capital.

    Thanks for going through my query.

    Looking forward to your guidance.

  28. Profile photo of Rakesh Adnani

    Hi Rudrajeet

    Can you suggest a good retail management system that takes care of accounting part too. I am into footwear retail online and offline both. Looking for a system that automates things and helps in expanding.

    Regards

  29. Profile photo of hariharan

    Awesome Rudrajeet,

        i know you as a perfect customer to work with and now more happy to know you as a mentor. Going to start a new venture in few months and definitely need your help with that 🙂 

  30. Profile photo of Rudrajeet Desai

    Hi Aman… Can you please share a little bit about your plan – will be happy to get on a call and take this further

  31. Profile photo of Rudrajeet Desai

    Extremely sorry Rakesh… I have no experience in Retail softwares and limited in accounting ones also

  32. Profile photo of Rudrajeet Desai

    Vimlesh… Angel investors generally don’t add much value unless they come from the particular industry you work in and have loads of time. Reasons being…

    They are generally been there done that and hence are not active anymore

    Very rich and hence have a lot of time given to many other things

    Or are in high profile full time jobs or businesses

    so if you are looking at a Angel Investor then only look at it from a mentoring perspective and not so much from operational guidance. IAN and Mumbai angels are the only 2 I have heard good things about.

    Hope it helps

  33. Profile photo of Vimlesh Gautam

    Hi Rudarajeet,

    Thank you for your reply. We are working on presenting our business plan to Angel investors and would definitely pitch on IAN and Mumbai angels.

    We have created our pitch presentation for investors, can you help us by reviewing it and giving us your feedback?

    Thanks

    Vimlesh

  34. Profile photo of Vimlesh Gautam

    Hi Rudarajeet,

    Thank you for your reply. We are working on presenting our business plan to Angel investors and would definitely pitch on IAN and Mumbai angels.

    We have created our pitch presentation for investors, can you help us by reviewing it and giving us your feedback?

    Thanks

    Vimlesh

  35. Profile photo of Vimlesh Gautam

    Dear Rudrajeet,

    We are applying for seed funding for our startup and are applying for the funds on various websites. While we are filling up the application form every one is asking for the round we are raising the funds for and give options such as “Preferred Equity/Convertible Equity/Common Equity” etc…they are also asking the pre-money valuation of the startup. Now below are my queries

    1. Can you please help me understand with some examples what are “Preferred Equity/Convertible Equity/Common Equity”. Also which option is suitable for a startup which is raising seed capital.

    2. Our startup is currently building the MVP and do not have customers hence no revenue generation. We founders have invested a certain amount for the current development. So what will be our pre-money valuation? How can this be calculated? I even referred to Alok’s basic funding concept ppt and its very good, but was not able to know the pre-value calculation for a startup with no revenues.

    Please help me resolve these queries.

    Thanks

    Vimlesh

  36. Profile photo of Kaizad Patel

    Hi Rudrajeet,

    I would like to seek your opinion on raising funding via the Convertible Debt route. What are the advantages and disadvantages? The MVP for this new venture will be in beta mode by end of Jan 2016. 

    Hoping to hear from you.

    Regards,

    Kaiz

  37. Profile photo of Rudrajeet Desai

    If you dont have access to any kind of equity capital then maybe this can be evaluated… i dont know your financial backing so cant say much.. but any kind of debt for a startup is not good… as a startup you will make mistakes and that should not burden you financially…

    issue with convertible part is that if you are not able to pay back then you end up giving way more equity than what you would for the same amount in a equity round… 

    also… if you are not able to pay, then Equity round from anybody else after that is always a problem 

    hope it helps… 

  38. Profile photo of Rajat

    Hi Rudrajeet, I recently created a profile on LetsVenture to ask for funding. Took me about a month to fill up all the details and create a presentation deck. Phew! I have a couple of questions. Finance beats me so please bear with me if I sound silly.

    > > 1. Considering the taxes are pretty high in India, I am sure many startups try and show more expenses in their books than they actually incur. So when you are filling out your financial positions on such forums like LetsVenture or Beehive do you give out true figures or just go by what the books show? Also, when investors meet you and ask you about the finances and profits (do they?) do you go by the books? What if your books show losses? Do the investors get turned off? 

    > > 2. How much funding should you ask for? I mean how do you make that calculation? Somebody suggested just calculate your expenses every month and multiply that figure by 10. Sounded pretty random to me actually. Here’s what I did though. I calculated the cost of hiring and retaining x developers, y writers and z sales people for 2 years. Added real estate cost to it for 2 years again (rent + security, etc.). Added some random resource costs (computers, backup, subscriptions) to this. and came up with a figure. Am I cool?

    > > Rajat

  39. Profile photo of Rudrajeet Desai

    like the way you have asked the questions – to the point

    Ans 1 – How you show finances should be decided by your CA / CFO and no one else… Because they need to be same across, same as what you file eventually… You should show true figures every where and NEVER ever lie about your numbers… especially to investors as a due diligence can bring up everything…

    Having said all of this… if a startup is making so much of profit that it has to hide it, then why would it need funding? Startups who make losses generally raise capital

    Ans 2 – Funding Needed = Capital Expense for 2 years + Operating Losses for 2 years… This is the money needed to keep a Positive Cash Flow… basically so that you dont run out of money

    Capital Expense is all Asset Purchases like Computers, Printers, Office Deposit etc… but you should again check this with your CA as to what applies to your business 

    Why 2 years – Because its not the most ideal thing to be in the market to raise funding within 2 years ideally… it takes time, causes distraction and creates uncertainty – so keep money with yourself for 2 years. 

    Hope it helps… 

  40. Profile photo of Rajat

    Thanks Rudrajeet. Made sense. 

  41. Profile photo of Gunjan

    Rather late here and I’m not sure if you are still answering questions but let me still try. my query is about UI/UX and design related.
    My question: Is it important to hire a designer to get a good, well thought of and researched logo and a fabulous design for your website by shelling out a substantial amount OR should I go with a simple self-made (or cheaply made) logo, focus more on the functionalities right now and then get a logo etc designed at a later stage?

  42. Profile photo of Mohit Gaur

    Hello Rudrajeet,

    Me and my team have a startup with the name CollegeDesk.in where we offer various services for the benefits of students.

    We are looking for funds to grow our business and expand services as well.

    I wanted some help regarding how to find suitable investors for our startup?

    A suitable help will be highly appreciated.

  43. Profile photo of Rudrajeet Desai

    sorry to have missed this man… let me know how I can help – you can write to me on rudrajeet@outlook.com

  44. Profile photo of Sandeep Agrawal

    Hello Rudrajeet,

     Can you please shed some light over the issue if it is worth leaving a Rs.14 lakh job and starting a startup

  45. Profile photo of Rajat

    Sorry to crash here. Go to LetsVenture and create a profile. There are a good bit of investors there who you can invite to visit your profile. 

  46. Profile photo of Vimlesh Gautam

    Hi Rudrajeet, hope you are well.

    We are an early stage technology start-up working in the space of Mobile App Usability. We are having a meeting with an investor next week and we have below queries. Trying to be as specific to the point.

    1. How do we know what our current valuations are? How can it be calculated? We have just recently got out product ready and are approaching the market for customers. We don’t have any revenues as of now.

    2. How much equity should we part with for the investment required? We require an investment of USD 1.35million to cover 3 years expenses. We 3 founders have invested an amount of USD 68K.

    3. How the equity of the founders will get impacted after the additional of an investor? How is the dilution calculated?

    Looking forward to your response.

    Thanks

    Vimlesh
  47. Profile photo of Vinayak Hanchate

    Hi Rudrajeet, just came across your article ‘ 99 Questions every investor will ask…’ great one…. identified with it. I would like you help me for my model here? I would like your inputs / frank feedback. 

    Link: http://therodinhoods.com/forum/topics/advice-suggestions-for-lejagah-com-revenue-model

  48. Profile photo of Ravi

    Rudrajeet..

    I have a franchise of IMS in Noida. imsindia.com I started off as an investor and soon had to jump in to take over operations as the existing partner moved out. I made 2-3 blunders being a novice but stuck to the option as I was longing to move out of corporate life and my gut said this was a good opportunity.I have invested 20 lacs from my savings running the operation for last 18 months. The business before my purchase was 50 lacs in 2013 & 2014. It dropped to 28 lacs in 2015. I had invested in March 2015 and i joined in person October. The business this year will also be in loss but might break even in 2017. Should i stay invested or move out when my agreement comes for review in March 2017. 

    Does one put Goodmoney chasing Bad money. I’ll be down to my last penny and forced to go back to job if I don’t break even in 2017 and start earning subsequently.

    Ravi – 9999 300 571

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