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RodinStar / Startup

I have failed, but I am not a failure !


 

Awarded the

“Rodinstar” Post 

of the week!!

 

 

I am writing this today cos, failure is celebrated only at one place in the world and that’s TRHS. I am amazed to see how people share their failure stories and are appreciated for that. I would have never spoken about my failures but got the motivation from this community. Not even my family understands this, and I have a tag of a failure and my family thinks that I should just be doing a job. Whenever I share a new business idea with my family they laugh and my mom then tells me not to try it 🙂

Anyway, here are my failure stories. I was introduced to business pretty early, by my dad. He was a departmental store owner, but an amazing businessman. I am sure if he would have been here, he would have supported my pursuit.

Bread Supplier: I was pretty young and the eldest son in the family. I knew our financial conditions were just not right to ask anything extra from my dad, but I also knew that I want to live my life. When I joined college, I wanted to own a bike. I asked my dad and he smiled. He said, you wanna ride a bike, so you’ll have to earn it. I was excited. I asked how? He said, I’ll give the minimum down payment possible and rest you’ll have to earn to pay the EMIs. I was in a regular college. I was not sure how I could earn while I was still in college. Here also he gave me a chance. We had an agency of bread and Soft drink. We used to supply bread and soft drink to small retailers around. He asked me to find out retailers and supply bread and soft drink to them in my spare time. I used to earn Rs 1 per loaf of bread supplied. It was a great deal. I used to wake up at 5:30 AM and used to supply bread. While coming back from college I used to collect the money. This way I started earning about Rs 100 – 150 per day. It was fun to know that with some small efforts I could earn my bike J . Finally I was a proud owner of a bajaj pulsar in a month. I still cherish those moments.

Lesson Learnt: If you have the right reward, you can really do anything. You got to understand, who needs what. My dad saved the cost of a supplier and at the same time taught me a lesson for life.

Kiryana Shop:  Well, supplying bread could not go for long, my dad passed away in 2003, when I was in my second year.  It was a sudden death. I didn’t know what to do. And for worse, we were broke.  I had two younger brothers, my mom and grand mom to take care of. Anyway, I decided that I will manage the shop. I worked hard and gave the most of the shops around a run for their money. People there still talk about the things I did at that time. Like, I started sending fliers with the lowest cost (it was before super markets came around). People used to flock at our shop. Simple marketing, let the consumer come to your shop, give him 2 things at his price and rest at your price. You’ll still be able to get the same margin. It worked for a year or two. Finally, I completed my graduation and that’s where things started going bad. My mom wanted me to take up a job. Her point was that the shop is anyway running, anybody can sit on the shop and I should look for something else. And then emotional blackmailing, of the fact that my dad also wanted me to take up a good job.

I succumbed to that and left the shop to take up a job. The shop was managed by my younger brother, who was not interested in studies and my mom. We started fighting on smallest of the issues and finally the shop was closed within a year.

Lesson: It’s your baby; nobody else will raise him like you can. Business is not for those who can’t get a job. Business is for those who want to do much more than a job. People tell me that you need money to do a business. I tell them, money is just a fuel. You need a good car and an equally good driver too.

Fabrication Unit: As expected, I got bored of my routine job soon. Moreover, the shop was on the verge of getting closed. Competition had also raised people around were pouring money in departmental stores like anything and we did not have it. Anyway, I thought of another business idea. Export houses were in demand at that time. There were a lot of small and big fabrication units flourishing. I spoke to a friend and took some basic knowledge. It felt as if it was nothing. You need to have a few machines, karigars, and orders from export houses. That’s it 🙂 I knew I am confident and can convince people. The best thing was that I was educated, unlike most of the fabrication unit owners. I took a loan from my mom, and brought 10 machines to start a fabrication unit. I used to work in night shifts those days. I will then work nights in office, come early morning, would sleep for about 4 -5 hours and then go in search of workers as well as Orders. Getting orders was not difficult, in fact some export houses were really appreciative of the fact that I was working at this age. I was 19 at that time. Well, orders starting pouring in. But the next huddle was the workers. Who would make those orders. It was really difficult, cos, I used to get the money 15 days after fulfilling the order and I had to pay to workers daily. Cash flow was a challenge at that time. But I somehow managed. But it was just a matter of a year. Here also, things started getting out of hands. I was still working and could not manage both the things together. Moreover, the worst thing was I could not manage workers. I just could not relate to them and their problems. I felt, they were exaggerating, but I was wrong. Finally, due to lack of money, lack of people management, things started falling apart. I had to close the unit, sold off all the machines, of course at a loss.

Lesson:  Managing people is also important. Retaining talent is the most important aspect of any business. You’ll have to strike a right balance, between business development and talent management.

 

Dial a Cake: This was a business I could sustain the longest. May be because I was little more experienced and was little mature when I did this. Okay, I had already lost a few opportunities till now and my family was completely against doing business. I stuck to my job and the entrepreneurial streak I had helped me rose in my position in the job as well. Within 3 year, I was a Manager. I learnt people management in my job. At one time, I was managing a team of about 50 people, so it was great. I realized that in corporate companies, cake cutting was pretty frequent. I thought, this was a great opportunity, cos, no one used to deliver cakes at that time. I again took courage and thought of starting up Dial a Cake. It was a novel concept. I knew it will be hit. I did some basic calculation and started the company. What I didn’t realize was that keeping your rates low would ensure initial orders but it will be difficult to sustain in the long run. There was a market gap, people were ready to pay anything if you give them the quality. But I kept the rates low and later kept struggling for margins. There was a lot of learning in the process, but I could not sustain it. The bottom line, I had another failed business in my kitty.

Lessons I learnt from Dial a Cake:

1.  Market Research is important but you need to place your product right as well. If your product has potential, it’s okay to place it a little higher than competition. You don’t always have to play yourself small.

2.  it’s a tight rope of Net Margins and Sales. At times we get tempted with a sale and give away discounts. The discounts you give today are going to hamper your net margins tomorrow. Keep this in mind.

3. it’s easier to put a rate tag and convince the consumer but it’s difficult to revise it. Believe me, the most difficult part today it to convince the customer for revised rate

4. Brand is important. Create a Brand be it service or product. People will remember the brand and any feedback, positive or negative, will get attached to the brand.

5. Think about your running costs more than your initial costs. Onetime costs are still okay to bear, but it’s the running cost that has to be looked at. When we start a business we get tempted to take things which we don’t need immediately, may be because we took those things for granted in a job. But in your own business, you got to keep a right balance in what’s important and what’s not.

6. Last but not the least, you got to look at the revenue channels. At times we feel that this could not be a revenue channel for a business like us, but think again. Business is all about innovating and challenging the rules. You never know you might find a new revenue channel for your business. For ex. With Dial a Cake I always thought that we are B2C and will deliver once a customer calls. But it proved wrong when we approached a few shops who were not selling cakes but we put our brochures at their shops and got some amazing business from them.

Well, after these failures, I have learnt a lot but I seriously feel there’s lot more, yet to be learned.

It’s an ongoing process and we all keep learning at every step of our life.

Right now I am working with an ecommerce startup and have learnt here a lot as well. I hope to start again soon and with the blessings and experience of TRHS, I am sure, I’ll go a long way 🙂

Thanks for reading this far.

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45 Comments

  1. Profile photo of asha chaudhry

    kamal…. i have no idea how old you are. from your pic, you are just a boy!

    this post has completely changed my perception about you – kudos to you and your SPIRIT! you’ve taught me quite a bit through this goosebumpy post.

    when you start your fifth venture i will be cheering for you! god bless….

  2. Profile photo of Kamal Kalra

    Thanks a lot Asha ! Believe me I have really learnt a lot from TRHS community. 

    TRHS would be the first one to know when I start next, and I am planning to start soon. 

    BTW, I am 29 🙂 

  3. Profile photo of Aman Jha

    Kamal… yaar kamaal ho gya, 1st tym I hv met someone who started at the young age as I did, who has as many failed ventures in his kitty as I hv. your last venture was related to food biz  same as mine, you are working on E-commerce right now and coincidentally even my nxt venture is related to E-commerce.

    No wonder, I could relate with all your problems and lessons learnt!

    Failed ventures just mean that we are not successful…YET!

  4. Profile photo of Kamal Kalra

    Yeah man… That’s why I could relate to your post as well. 

    I really liked the last line “Failed ventures just mean that we are not successful … YET” 🙂 

  5. Profile photo of Aman Jha

    Thanks but let me confess its copy paste item. Actually it’s Sanjeev Bickchandani’s line, founder of Infoedge.

    He actually said, “If you are lucky, your biz will click in 5yrs, if not lucky then in 10yrs and if u really hv worst luck then 15yrs, until then u r just not successful…yet!”

  6. Profile photo of Aman Jha

    Asha ji, I think now it’s time, we can hv a scetion for celebrating failures, everyone here hv so many stories to share. 

  7. Profile photo of asha chaudhry

    :)))))

    alok & i have already exchanged notes on this. stay tuned 🙂

  8. Profile photo of Sagar Gupta

    Awesome post.. many lessons learnt.. Thanx for sharing your experiences with us.. 

  9. Profile photo of karthik.c

    Loved this part the most “2 things at his price and rest at your price.” I think this is a unique way to bring repeat customers for any business. Keep rocking!
    All the best,

    Karthik

  10. Profile photo of Mohul Ghosh

    Hey Kamal.. Although we have met (At last 2 OpenHouses in Delhi) and talked on phone, it is for the first time I came to know so much about you.. 

    You are very brave. Keep it up.

    And all the best with your future ventures.. 🙂

  11. Profile photo of Kamal Kalra

    Thanks Sagar 🙂

  12. Profile photo of Kamal Kalra

    Thanks a Karthik 🙂

  13. Profile photo of Kamal Kalra

    Hey Mohul, I am already a fan of your writings buddy… Will look forward to learn more from you. And Thanks for appreciating words. 

  14. Profile photo of Anamika Joshi

    Kamal – Amazing story and some amazing lessons to be learnt… Your failures are your strengths… These are the points where you will no more fail in future.Wishing the best for you in future .. !

  15. Profile photo of Kamal Kalra

    Thanks Anamika 🙂 

  16. Profile photo of Himanshu Mody

    Awesome post Kamal. This is what I love the most about this platform , the ventures can fail or succeed , what is important is to keep the entrepreneur in us alive.

  17. Profile photo of Parthiban T S

    Kamal, Hats off to you and your fighting spirit.

    All the very best for your upcoming venture.

  18. Profile photo of Manish Singh Bisht

    Thanks for sharing this Kamal. Keep up the spirit.

  19. Profile photo of Jasveer singh

    Superb Kamal! Keep up the spirit

  20. Profile photo of Rohit Kuttappan

    What a story, and valuable lessons here. Kudos to you, Kamal. Really love your attitude…Reminds me of Michel Jordan’s quote, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” All the best for your future ventures.
  21. Profile photo of Aditya Babbar

    Super !

    Girte hain shahsawar hi maidaan-e-jung mein
    Woh tifl kya girenge jo ghutno ke bal chale

  22. Profile photo of pavan srivastava

    wow kamal very inspiring story …it will give courage to every aspiring entrepreneur , like me to just dive in into the awesome ,challenging ,fast paced word of entrepreneurship

  23. Profile photo of Surabhi

    I liked this idea of TRHS community, I appreciate your spirit. Good luck for the future!

  24. Profile photo of Kamal Kalra

    Thanks a lot guys….I hope to share my success stories with you all as well ….May this community grows and help all the entrepreneurs reach out to their dreams 🙂 Amen ! 

  25. Profile photo of Ratnakar Gokarn

    Hello Kamal,

    Great story and even greater spirit. Wishing you all the success.

    Personally, I think we can learn more from failures rather than successes. It is great that you have shared your story with others here on the forum.

    I can more or less relate to most of your experiences as I have been through most of them myself almost identically but only with different businesses.

    Having no family connections in business can be a disadvantage as there is no one to guide you through the tough times.

    The biggest lessons I learned the hard way was less about the business ( which is relatively easy) but more about people.

    1.Never sacrifice business principles for sake of just getting a sale. It can become very costly.

    2. Due Diligence is extremely necessary in this business environment. I found out the hard way that even people you may know for some time will take advantage if you let them.

    3. Learn, adopt, practice, evaluate and adjust.

    Getting into a new business requires lot of preparation and thorough understanding. Capital allocation is perhaps one of the most important skills to master in business.

    Thanks again for sharing your story,

  26. Profile photo of Kamal Kalra

    Hi Ratnakar, 

    Some great lessons there man… Thanks for sharing and best of luck for everything you do 🙂 

  27. Profile photo of Sachin Upendra Trivedi

    Awesome Post Kamal… Thanks for sharing… Many lessons learnt and lots of inspiration gained… you’ve truly lived the age old saying “failure is a stepping stone to success”… Cheers Buddy and best wishes for your new venture 

  28. Profile photo of asha chaudhry

    dear kamal…

    pls check the top of your post – we just celebrated your failures all over again 🙂

  29. Profile photo of Kamal Kalra

    Wow !! That’s amazing .. I never thought I could get the Rodinstar post 🙂 Thanks a lot Asha…

    It’s truly a Medal , I am feeling elated 🙂 

  30. Profile photo of Kamal Kalra

    Thanks Sachin for your kind words 🙂 

  31. Profile photo of Gopinath Nair

    Hats off to you Kamal… You taught me one huge lesson…Its not how you fail in one venture… Is how you get up and Nail your next venture 🙂

  32. Profile photo of Sridhar Satyanarayana

    Honestly Kamal when I was reading this I felt as if I was standing in front of a mirror

  33. Profile photo of Nitish Mehta

    Dude .. awesome post .!!! few things i have too faced similar ..!! you have gut u will have glory 

  34. Profile photo of Prashant Kumar Sharma

    Delightful post!.:)

    @Kamal- A failure is not a failure when it can inspire others, it has been so very well put, that anyone can relate and be touched. All the best for your next venture, I am very sure that you are on your way to make it big!.:)

  35. Profile photo of Vikram Parekh

    You’re a winner in my eyes. Amazing journey. Wish you good luck for the future.

  36. Profile photo of Kamal Kalra

    Thanks Vikram…I have already started a new venture…will share the details with Rodinhooders shortly

  37. Profile photo of Kamal Kalra

    Thanks a lot Prashant … It’s the spirit of Rodinhoods that gives us courage to share our failures with dignity…:)

  38. Profile photo of kaanchan bugga

    Kamal, this is really inspiring! Completely floored by your courage and persistence! Godspeed on your next venture…Look forward to meeting you some time soon. 🙂

  39. Profile photo of Kamal Kalra

    Thanks a lot Kaanchan for your kind words. I also look forward to meet fellow Rodinhooders.. there’s always something new to learn from all of you 🙂 

  40. Profile photo of asha chaudhry

    btw… you both will meet each other this evening over samosas :))))

    small world, huh?!!!

  41. Profile photo of Kamal Kalra

    :)) I didn’t know kaanchan will be here as well… Glad 

    I hope you will also be there asha. 

  42. Profile photo of asha chaudhry

    awwwwwe! i’m always around in spirit!!!!

    you will have an awesome awesome time. 

    kamal – you get to eat my hisse ka samosa. will look fwd to the pic :)))))

  43. Profile photo of Geetha Ravi

    YOu will be a success this time after all the practical learnings.Hundred percent success due to the experiences that you have gained.All the best.

  44. Profile photo of Kamal Kalra

    Thanks Geetha for your kind words… 

  45. Profile photo of Pannashri Gupta

    Hey Kamal, what an amazing story, and what guts and gumption you have, my friend. I know that this may sound cliched, but your experience will definitely help you someday. At that time, all these failures will make sense.

    I hope that you excel in your next venture. All the best and god bless you.

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