I started my roller coaster ride of entrepreneurship right from my college days. Due to our education and social system, Entrepreneurship has been made a lot tougher than it really is. There are very few genuine faces in Indian Entrepreneurial Ecosystem who are coming forward and willing to guide the next generation.
Alok aka ‘The RodinHood’ and this platform has played a very important role in my journey. I posted the story of my days as an student entrepreneur here and got immense motivation and support from the community. I started my second business from college and posted about it here, and the response was so phenomenal that some community members coming from that post are still my clients and friends even after 3 years and logically led to my current startup. Alok has talked about my work twice, and he has done the same with a lot of people, which is an immense source of motivation for anyone who is just starting out. Alok has been an indirect mentor to me and I am sure numerous others. His videos, blogs, slides always have a short, clear and concrete lesson attached and clear the clouds on some less understood but most talked about topics like fundraising, valuation and actual sales to name a few.
But today I have to ask a question to Alok, I am completely convinced that there are more people from this group who will have identical questions to ask our RodinHood. MTV has just started a new show called Dropout Private Limited, the show is more on the likes of Roadies and Splitsvilla. I, like many of you, am not a fan of these shows because they are mostly scripted for higher TRPs, use unnecessary profanity, sometimes even violence and stupid drama. But the fact that Alok is one of the judges on the show, was enough to convince me to wait for the episode and give it a watch. While I don’t know that much about the other two judges Sandeep and Anisha [I am sure they are super achievers and talk really sensible on the show], the presence of Alok as a judge would ensure that the zeal and spirit of entrepreneurship is not murdered and laughed upon in front of millions of people watching the show on national television, BUT I WAS WRONG.
In the first episode, one of the judges was offended just because one contestant had a bad handwriting, and the contestant was talking in a louder tone. One guy who has tried multiple innovative ideas along with managing his family was told that he is a failure just because three of his ideas didn’t work out as expected, remarks were made about how he is a parasite on his wife’s earnings. There were a lot more remarks which would surely turn any entrepreneur red hot in anger.
You are an inspiration, a go to guy, a mentor, a guide for many budding entrepreneurs. When such nonsense remarks are made in your presence, and you don’t raise your voice, you know you are doing wrong to everyone who looks up to you as an inspiration.
You promote entrepreneurship, you know how unnecessarily difficult entrepreneurship has been made in this country due to mere fear of failure and social stigma. The forthcoming generations of entrepreneurs who are right now in school and college are watching that show, they are watching you, the tales of startups are first time aired on the national television in the form of a reality show. Would you like to paint this picture of entrepreneurship in their minds?
I know you haven’t made any bad comments on any of the participants, but if someone is doing wrong to your strongest of beliefs, should you stay quiet?
Raghu and Rajiv are from the entertainment industry, they have their experiences. But you are more learned in this field of entrepreneurship, you are more attached to this ecosystem, you have talked to more budding entrepreneurs, you hold bigger responsibilities here. You cannot sit quietly when someone almost punches your values in the face.
I look up to you, many fellow entrepreneurs look up to you, please correct people when they are wrong. Please be our voice.
Please also tell us your primary motivation to join this show? Was it fame(you are already popular among people who matter), money (entrepreneurs like you always have 100 ways to make money), helping entrepreneurs (this is not being done as seen from the 1st episode).
I hope answers to these will lead to a much more fruitful discussion.
Fellow entrepreneurs, please feel free to add/raise your concerns and questions in comments.
I write here and live in Mumbai.
Thank you very very very much for this post and your heartfelt, genuine question.
Here are my genuine reasons for being on the MTV Dropout Show:
– TV is bigger than any other media in India as yet. I think “Rodinhood” (The Brand and myself) deserved a shot at TV to grow the brand and position myself on National media. I calculated the productivity lost of missing work, and also consulted my partners at work and my older daughter (21, who has worked at CNBC and Starbucks in Social media) to ask what they thought. Everyone believed that the few (12) days spent would be worth it to try and bring visibility to Alok, Therodinhoods and of course Games2win.
– When a show of this format appears, it reaches out to 3 unique kinds of audiences. Think of this as 3 concentric circles.
a) The core community from which the show is inspired – aka YOU Ankit, and all our fellow entrepreneurs and rodinhooders. This is the smallest, yet most intense circle in the middle. This show is NOT targeted to this circle. It DRAWS from this circle but does not SERVE this circle (unlike therodinhoods open houses, Shark Tank etc).
b) A larger circle that has people ‘interested’ in the topic buy have never been exposed to the industry. In India, we have 75% of the population under the age of 30. A eye popping 60%+ want to “Do their own business”. They have no clue of VCs, Startups, Entrepreneurs and are directionless. This show IS aimed at them.
Case in point : I’ve got calls from young people (10yrs – 20) who’ve asked me questions about the show! “Uncle, is the person who starts crying really that brave?” etc etc.
This important large group are ‘being entertained’ to WATCH but subtly learning what Business and Startup is. This is probably the BEST WAY to teach them about entrepreneurship.
There are kids of ‘service class’ people; folks whose family members are in the Army – they have NO connect with ‘business people’ at all. This show is an attempt to edutain them.
c) The largest circle on the outer ring is ‘junta’. All the mamas, mamis, people watching in TV Showrooms etc. While they may not be the intended audience, something is making them understand what Business Questions are.
So, a 45 year old ‘mummy’ from Delhi called and said, “Alok Ji, you were so so good. I watched with my sons (18) and (16) and we all argued about the participants. I toh felt you should be more nice to girls…..”
I don’t care about Muumyji, but I LOVED that she got her 2 sons to watch. They would / will NEVER watch a Soap Opera with them.
– In the end, let’s together do the maths:
a) Before show, how many people in India knew about ROI, Business Plan, Market Mapping, Competition Analysis, etc etc. Let’s say X%
b) After show, how many people after show know of the above? Let’s say Y%
If Y% is > X% even by 0.01%, I think I have done my karma.
Hope this makes you convinced that I did the ‘right’ thing ????
At your service,
Follow on 1:
Good Evening Alok,
First of all thanks a lot for taking the time out from your busy schedule to give such an elaborate answer here, this really means a lot to me and the extended community.
Now coming to your points:
– Taking RodinHoods, your brand and your company on National Tv is truely a big step in forward direction for you. This point clearly says about your primary motivation to join the show and is a very convincing.
– I agree that the show takes the content from the inner-most circle and presents it in an entertaining way to the outer circles. This is a common theme in media, where the storytellers present experiences, daily lives of one small yet unique community to the whole world. The unique community gets the exposure, popularity, growth and support while the world gets learning, experiences, pathway and motivation. This sounds like a win-win story. This we have seen in movies like Dangal, Poorna, Guru etc. But in case of Drop Out Private limited the personality of an entrepreneur is heavily doctored and an entrepreneur’s image potrayed to the outer world is almost wrong. Frustration, depression, [Aish], failures are very well disclosed, but not the complete picture. But I think there is a very less I and You could do about it now as the majority of show might have been already made/produced till now.
– Now the final point about Edutainment and the common junta. Most of the Mamajis and Mamijis are never really convinced about anything but strong academics. But when they hear about a suicide or depression case due to strain in studies they themselves try to convince their children that degress and grades aren’t everything and children should take life a little lighter, just to save their children from depression and other pressures. From the initial episode all I think parents will associate entrepreneurship to is depression, frustration and continous failures. Which parent would want his child in future to choose that path. Given such a platform you had the opportunity to bring the truest image of entrepreneurs to the outer society, so that next time my Mom thinks about entrepreneurship she should know that the path is not entirely based on luck or other hidden talent and with proper preparation, interest, education and exposure everyone can pursue it as a dream career.
To really guide entrepreneurs and take the community forward, you can create a resources portal in collaboration with MTV, where you can host really helpful content for budding entrepreneurs with practical things they would need. The content could be interactive guides for digital marketing, sales, motivation etc. Bringing a large audience [TVs reach] to such portal would actually help them and compliment the show, as well as help MTV and you to create a bigger community [more engaged audience, more money], whose benefits everyone can see in coming time. I hope you will take this to MTV if you think this will be even remotely helpful to the community.
You are a motivation for every budding Rodinhood aka The Doers like me, we all would love to see you, your family and your company always grow. I admire you and I think your steps will take us all forward and your replies in this thread will take our thinking forward.
Thanks again for your valuable time