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Experiences while building My Dream Store

Awarded the

“RodinStar” Post 

of the week!!

I’ve been interacting with lot of entrepreneurs recently and have a learnt a lot from their journeys. Books or Degrees never talk about those experiences. I started up with a venture dealing in customized t-shirts in 2010 along with couple of my close friends Nalin, Satish. Now I can say I am at the peak of my entrepreneurial career. The reason why I call it peak is neither because we’ve got funded nor we’re making extraordinary numbers. We feel we are building an amazing product which is making difference in the lives of few people. This feeling is insanely magical. I wanted to share few things we’ve learned during our journey:

Be Persistent – There is always a reason why you start in the first place. What is the problem you are aiming to solve? How big you want to take this venture to? Always remember it. Whatever the work you are going to put today, should be only towards the problem and nothing else. If you stick to the problem and give your 100% time/ energy to it, you are going to figure out the right solution. If not today, but maybe after 325 days.

Most of the times, we give half hearted efforts and when we are stuck at a tough problem, we move to pursue something else. And when the new problem gets tough, we move on to something else, so on and so forth. That zone easy problem solving is always heavily crowded. Don’t get carried away with the wind.

Set your top 3 priorities right: If you are given opportunity to only do 3 tasks in a day, what are they going to be.  List them down and religiously stick to it. And all the 3 priorities should be towards solving the problem in the most efficient way. Don’t have more than 3. Do the toughest one first. Here are my 3 priorities today – analyzing the business metrics, talking to one of our not so very happy early adopter, executing the marketing strategy planned for this month.

Build a proper team: Always hire someone who is better than you. A’s recruit A’s. B’s recruit C’s. It is true. And there is a strong misconception that we get A’s only when we can afford paying huge salary. I got one of our core employees (Garima Shukla) at a pay of 15K when she joined us. She is our head designer currently managing the design team. She worked with that pay for 3 years, currently drawing 3.5x of the salary. When inquired what made her stick to us this long, she mentioned – she got freedom to work, got people to appreciate or motivate her work, had faith in us.

Similar is the case with our operations team managers – Kannan/ Arun who put double the work a normal employee does. When asked why they stuck with us – it was again belief & freedom. Be honest, because they believe you. They want you to be 100% true in whatever you communicate/ preach. Create faith in your team.

Decide one core value which you think your future peer should possess. In our case it is – hard working attitude. One more thing which we’ve observed is an employee with at least one strong passion performs better and delivers great results. Our ops manager Arun, spends 15 days every year to go on a bike trip. Our tech team member Arjun has a strong interest in Cars. Our designer (Maninder) has a strong passion towards photography. Our content manager (Arunlekha) has a strong love for pets and is a feminist by heart.

Create accountability: When you hire A’s they expect you not to micromanage. Give them objectives for the month/quarter and ask them to reach you in case they find any difficulty. Share your ideas on how you think they can fulfill their objectives. Have review meetings and ensure your team is on the right track. Before you expect your team to take accountability you’ve got to train them, spend good amount of time with them making them understand the importance of the work being done and how it is impacting the overall vision of the company. We’ve got couple of interns from VIT (Harshal & Priyanka), they are very much eager to learn. We trained them how to do Facebook Advertising/ few other marketing techniques and within 30 days time frame they started delivering. These people are managing around 8 – 10 lakh marketing budget in a month and they are enjoying it. Accountability makes them feel the ownership of the task and most of the cases we get great results.

Appreciate/Motivate/ Respect your team: Nothing can replace appreciation. Genuinely appreciate efforts of your team members. Thank you notes/ appreciation emails/ unexpected small tokens of gratitude pumps in energy in the individual. They feel their work is being valued.

Conduct Monthly team meetings: Make it a habit to have monthly team meetings. Talk about what you’ve achieved last month and what you are aiming to achieve in the following month. Evaluate yourself. Share some interesting insights happened. Share high level objectives for the coming month, let everyone know what their peers are going to work on. We have it on last day of every month and choose one employee of the month who performed exceptionally well during that month & reward him with a small token of gratitude.

Travel Often: Most of the times we figured out solutions to our toughest problems while travelling to a different place. I feel travelling gives you a different perspective to the way you look at the things. We often ignore this owing to work/ financial reasons. But start traveling.

Building a scalable business: People might contradict me here. It is not necessary that every business must be scalable. People start ventures because of multiple reasons – money, freedom, fame, screwed up boss. Till the time you are enjoying what you are doing, you should be okay with it. And raising funds is not a metric to success. So please don’t get disappointed if you are unable to.

I hope these points will help fellow entrepreneurs and surely we can expect many happy souls building their ventures.

I’m Karthik Venkat. I am one of the co-founders of My Dream Store. We are working on a platform which enables individuals to create & sell merchandise with zero upfront costs or hassles. Buyers pre-order the products. We manufacture & deliver them directly to the buyers taking care of customer supports. We want to give the individuals an access to world-class infrastructure so that great brands can be made online.

Btw, we attended the recent Rodinhooders of Hyderabad meetup!

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  1. karthik, thanks for sharing some of your learnings. as someone who has heard you speaking at the hyd meetup, i know for a fact that you have so much to share!!! we must have you and your team speak at one of our OHs 🙂

    i really like your set your top 3 priorities right. in a day, i find myself juggling too many priorities 🙁

    it is so evident that you have built a proper team everyone is inclusive + motivated – so imp!

    gozoop has bansi as their happiness officer!! http://therodinhoods.com/forum/topics/building-a-positive-start-up-environment-more-smiles-less-stress 

    travel often is bang on. i work remotely, from home, so whenever i travel, it opens my mind. we try to travel as frequently as the school calendar allows us. and i carry my work wherever i go!

    the best part for me, is what not many founders would actually say/realise – but it’s 100% WORTH FOLLOWING!!

    “One more thing which we’ve observed is an employee with at least one strong passion performs better and deliver great results.”

    i’m an ardent IFFI (international film festival of india) attendee. and that’s the only time i take half days off throughout the 10 day festival which is held every year in goa! i finish all the imp stuff on trh and rush to watch 2-3 movies every day!! i’m exhausted by the end but it is a passion that i religiously follow!!

    this makes a super read karthik. thanks once again!

  2. I like the “Travel a Lot” part… its a game changer

  3. Yo! Karthik amazing stuff! 

    Though I don’t own a startup, I’ve had to build a developer team & everything that you said about team building is bang on! Experienced that the last 6 months!!

    Travel more – Point Noted!

    You always do a great job sharing your experiences man! 🙂

  4. karthik,

    i had to ruin the top of your post 🙂 sorry!!

  5. @Asha – Thanks for your kind words! Rodinhoods is a great community which helped us in learning & we hope our learning helps others not to repeat the same mistakes which we do!

  6. Thanks Abhishek! 🙂

    I am sure your dev team would love you for all the motivation you give.

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