of the week!!
Pre Script: This post is an account of my conversation with Alok Kejriwal and my learnings. Alok also asked me to write something for therodinhoods and so here goes. Whatever you have to say about it, do comment!
This story starts fifteen minutes before my conversation with Alok bhai.
The first task at hand was making sure my housemaid does not start the mixer during my phone call. She did not really understand if I was talking to Alok Kejriwal or Steve Jobs. But I had to make sure she didn’t fuck the call up.
I sat down with the laptop, a notebook and a gel pen. I had a few points noted down about what I wanted to say. For some reason the moment reminded me about the first time I asked out a girl.
That was back in the 7th standard. I didn’t understand a shit about all this, but wanted to do it because Ross or Joey or someone from ‘friends’ did it. The reason I remembered this was because this jump into entrepreneurship is something similar. A jump based on faith. And I was little nervous.
Getting back to the call, it was slightly late so I thought maybe Alok was busy. But soon enough the phone rang and it was him.
The first thing I was confused about is how to address him. In most of the start-up events everyone calls everyone else ‘sir’. It even gets funny sometimes, Sir A talking to Sir B. But for some reason I feel people like Alok are more like friends than your boss. I think I did call him sir twice. But I’ve decided against it now. Not due to a lack of respect, but because a friendly relationship should not be formalized.
Alok bhai now on. Much better than Alok Sir. Sounds similar to Dhirubhai too 🙂
Getting down to business:
I told Alok bhai what we are trying to do. He liked the idea. The product was good. But while talking to him, I realized something.
My business plan was a hobby plan.
For a moment it felt like I was an inclined plane wrapped helically around an axis.
To quote Alok on the subject matter:
“When you make cheap and sell expensive, it’s a business. When you make expensive and sell cheap, it’s a hobby.”
But all was not over. Alok had an idea to make money out of our business/hobby. He even offered to be a client.
How should one feel if a person whom he is talking to ask for advice loves his idea and might be willing to pay for it? Happy?
I felt stupid.
Using your brain:
I am getting into the content business. And another important thing Alok bhai mentioned in our conversation is how brilliant the Economist and The Financial times are. They are the ones who really produce something good. And as a result they take home gold bricks while the others struggle to pay the EMI of their 100 cc commuter Hero Honda bikes.
That shit was exaggerated but you get my point.
So what I decided was Alok bhai was right.
And maybe he was WRONG!
The fact is he knows a lot about this field. But it is my job to do the thinking and diligence for my business. Not Alok bhai’s!
What I really gained from him was the following:
1) I need to stalk enough and find out how The Economist and Financial times got to where they are. Not today’s story but how they got to where they are today.
2) The perspective that I need to figure out the cash flow for the business. Maybe not in the coming few months, but a few years down the line this will come back to bite me in the ass. So have to work on it right now. Figure out a model which works.
3) A brilliant way to make money for the experiments I want to do while building the Indian version of the Economist. Something actionable from right now.
So am I going to take Alok’s advice?
The answer is a yes and a no. Will I blindly do what he has told me? Fuck no. Will I make sure I explore the perspective he has given me on things?
If this were a Hindi movie, the end would be something like this.
“One day I will prove Alok bhai wrong. And as we toast some expensive Champaign in the back of my bespoke Rolls Royce Phantom, he tells me he is mighty happy about it!”
But this is life. Maybe I will end up doing exactly what he told me in the first place. And maybe that’s what I will be happy doing.
I don’t know about that.
But I do know one thing; I sure as hell will try for the first ending.
Moral of the story: Take advice. Do your own experiments to conform the perspective. Say both yes and no. Have a healthy disregard for the impossible. It was Alok’s generosity to tell me beforehand what won’t work. It’s my job to figure out what will. Similarly be ambitious in your vision and pragmatic in the execution.