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Surviving 4 years of Business in India

 

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Disclaimer: This is a bloody long post. It isn’t meant for everyone. Only a few would be able to connect to what’s written here and only those are my target readers 😛 so grab a large coffee.

Burn me in hell oh god if I am lying when I say “surviving 2 years of business in india” was one of the easiest thing I could do compared to what I’ve been through in the past 2 years.

I really wanted to wait for the day wherein we’d have finished 5th year to write this post (big fan of rich dad poor dad books), but I believe there’s a lot of learning that has happened already which I couldn’t wait to put forth.

Now everyone’s shit is your business!

There comes a time in your business when you begin to feel as if the stars are aligning in your favour. Deals land in your basket out of nowhere. People call you from everywhere asking if your product or service is available at their place. The very friends and family who thought you made a fool out of yourself by getting into business turn generous overnight and start sending business your way. It becomes a habit for you where you start receiving calls and you keep hearing “ab tu toh bada businessman ban gaya bhai”.

It feels good. It feels god like; but let me warn you to sit your ass where it belongs – humility. When this starts happening, if either your head or your heart is up your ass; it’s fairly easy to screw up business, relationship, friendship and family ties.

Of course there would be genuine accolades that come your way from people who really value you in their life. Acknowledge it; let them know that it means a lot to you. Learn to develop the ability to recognise the genuine from the fake.

Let me tell you a few words about the fakes, the opportunists. These are the people who don’t have a single fucking clue as to what you’ve been through. They would call you or meet you and start narrating to you how miserable and un-fortunate they’ve been; and it’s your duty to help them out in getting them, their son, their daughter, their cousin a job, an opportunity. No matter how much you’re compelled to believe; their shit is not yours to handle. You’ve just begin to navigate yours. Believe me or not; every effort of mine to part-take in this has ended up badly; either as a support person, in the form of monetary support or in any other way. You will be cornered and pushed to dig up the past and turn the heat their way; do not; walk away as smoothly as you can.

On the contrary; the genuine ones look up to you as an adversary; they seek out your opinion and they value it when you give one. They don’t expect you to hand hold them; but instead ask of you to give hints on what may lie ahead. Help them; heck; go an extra mile, give away contacts and resources that can be of value. Universe is a strange thing; the more un-expecting you are, the more you start receiving.

Family to the rescue

Your closest family peers are the fastest to learn. They have to settle with the truth one or the other day. It quickly dawns to them that you’re chasing something bigger than yourself. Now what they do not know doesn’t scare them as much. They don’t mind now the dinner that was cooked previous night but didn’t get eaten. They don’t mind that you still continue to work on Sunday. They’re okay when you skip the marriages and ceremonies of your relatives; they understand.

I think it is now, that instead of biasing towards ignorance and saying things like “Forget it; you wouldn’t understand”, that you take time and educate your family members on what you are up to. Of course it takes time, but in the times of horror and storm, you cannot comprehend the energy and moral support your family brings to you.

I have been through times which were so tough that I couldn’t even include my partners in the decision making and it was up to me to take the shots; and during those times my family was able to sense what I may have been going through and stepped up to offer that love and support.

There would also be well wishers in your far relatives who are genuinely happy with what you have done with your life and selflessly offer you support and advice. It’s important to pay attention and give ears to them. Take that help when you need some; it doesn’t mean you are small or weak. It’s a way to convey to them that you too value them and are respectful of what they are offering.

You are now shit scared of ideas

Okay this is a big one. I think in your 2nd-3rd year of business, your cash position is likely to become better. You now have money to throw a party to your employees; your close ones. You now can take a flight or two to attend those trade exhibitions, to see potential advisors, investors. With this money, also comes a bit of free time as you now may be leading the company with different teams and leaders in place. When you aren’t doing the chores of your company on a daily basis, you obviously are left with enough free time which occasional tea and smokes can’t kill. Business is good apart from the fact that now it has become a routine, may be a boring one at times, the same old boring stuff and the same old problems which don’t seem to go away.

Be very very afraid of these times. It’s these times that put you in a frenzy where you get carried away by things like “who is getting funded in your space”, “can we pivot our business to attract these investors”, “can we do something about this idea because it looks so promising”. The last one is scariest of it all.

Me and my partners went into this free time frenzy mode and decided to kick off another startup (www.squadro.in) in the e-commerce space wherein we decided we should also be present in the product market as it widens our chances of funding and going in a turbo-boosted mode to success; whatever that meant. That’s where our focus was split; our core team divided and then began and endless tug of war between how something wasn’t going right, or how something wouldn’t work. Basically every step that we wanted to take in the new venture’s direction, we had to go back to our ‘working business’ to fix issues, generate revenue, earn profits and invest it back in the new venture.

I cannot begin to emphasise how we screwed up our timing on this one. It was a collective, consensually made, bad decision for that time. We got rockstars to work on the project and everything we had learnt about high productivity workforce was put into action in the new team. If you were to take a look at the website; you’d instantly know the quality and depth of effort that’s been put into this.

When it boiled down to revenue generation through online channels, we were now ants in the war of elephants. There was urban ladder, pepper fry, zansaar, fab furnish bleeding money in online advertising. The CPC with which we had kickstarted our campaigns were now 20 times lower than anyone who occupied the first ten spots.There was a war being fought with terms like ‘free delivery, unlimited choices, insane discounts, lifetime warranty, test the furniture in your home’ and we were this tiny firm trying to put in terms like ‘quality, durability, urban designs, personalisation’ and for some reason, we were being compared under these lens and we looked like kindergarten kids. We realised we were way too early for this game. We had burnt upwards of $4 million in cash for this entire circus in the last two years.

Lucky for our birth nature of hustling; we aligned common goals of our core business and new venture in the early days of development and we insanely benefited out of the whole exercise and now we wait for the funding dust to settle (2 of the companies mentioned have already shut shop with more on the way – now what happened to that 10 years or lifetime warranty?)

Punchline: Be very very scared of new ideas; not because you might fail, but because you may have the ability to succeed at almost everything. This confidence will eventually get you killed in multiple successes with no real depth.

Everybody is executing everybody’s idea!

When your startup is on the path of growth; you are bound to be overwhelmed by too many things. New people walking into office almost everyday, cake cutting for that old and loyal friend who is starting a new chapter of his life. Colleagues getting married, colleagues celebrating the birth of their child; colleague who faced an accident, one who lost a dear one. Way too many things to handle for a little emotional being like you.

When your team size goes north of 20 on the way to 100; it’s a shit-storm. Trust me. It becomes difficult to weigh opinions and suggestions; who’d you value more? The employee who slogged with you for the last 2 years and knows the nerves of the business and who grew with you? Or the new recruit who has years of experience and pitches in with an opinion of what we’re doing may be wrong and feels a critical change is required immediately? You gain favourites and you too are favourite for few others. With the lack of proper structure, hierarchy and command flow; be ready to face an avalanche of team silos that forms without your own knowledge where few back your leadership and the others back other co-founders.

Before you realise it; you would have grown addicted and reliant on the knowledge, experience and wisdom that’s brought to you by your team mates and favourites and without a flinch you may even start to back them up so that you can keep their creative spark breathing. It’s during these times that relationships between co-founders and leaders become so turbulent as it becomes not only important to let respective teams and people know that they have your support and that you understand the future they are planning, it also becomes equally hard to wear your co-founder’s shoes and actually soak-in as to what they’re trying to say and do.

Don’t be in the dark with the new things that are happening in your organisation. When there are no policies, SOPs and standard process; your team mates create one for themselves. When everyone does that in your company, each of them hold their ideas and processes dear to them and usually go defensive on others’ ideas. As a cofounder; you need to be aware of this buildup despite the kind of work load you may have. If you do not exhibit leadership in curating these events and being diligent in evaluating what’s right for the company from your perspective; it’s only matter of time your team members start getting a feeling of “you don’t know enough to understand what I’m trying to tell”. If that were to happen it wouldn’t be much different from you heading a huge army and on the day of the battle, each one of your soldiers draw the blade and start slicing each other while the enemy mocks you.

Employees simply enact you – watch what you do

This is a no brainer! From the colours you wear, the way you talk, the way you present yourself to the attitude you carry is all diligently noted and copied subconsciously by your employees. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t be bad-mouthing any of the other employees or the customer no matter what situation. The conduct that you carry during these strenuous times will go a long way in setting a high standard for everyone around you.

Back in 2012-13, we co-founders used to sit in office and chat up with each other about what was going on in each of our daily works; and during these discussion we often spoke of the good customers, the bad customers, difficulties we faced and the humour around it. Two weeks later we walk into our office and we find our employees behaving in a similar way but this time the tone towards the customer had suddenly become disrespectful.

We three were thoroughly shocked and we went out for a coffee. We all looked at each other and said “we fucked up”; we shouldn’t have spoken the way we have been speaking these days. We then firmly decided come what no matter, we’d behave with everyone without exception in a manner of respect that we’d be happy to receive any time ourselves. It wasn’t just about customers; it was also about a carpenter, a labourer, a delivery guy or a cleaning lady.

We are now happy for the fact that despite being a 200+ family; to a great extent incidents of disrespect are few and are usually not tolerated. Now apply this to everything that you do in the presence of your employees; the way you treat your sub-ordinates, and your partner as well, it subconsciously sends out messages as to who holds power and who doesn’t at office and it’s a bad work environment to be in.

Apart from behaviour, the values you believe in and uphold go a long way in defining the culture of company. There can’t be a set of values for employees and special values for management. If you cannot withstand pilferage; it’s the same degree of treatment no matter what designation.

Fetching from market – guess that never changes.. because we are the market

Alas; it took us good time to understand the fact that getting funded isn’t as sexy as it sounds. Apart from a few flashy blog coverages and mentions of Indian rupees in USD; there isn’t by far anything sexy that may result from it if you aren’t prepared to the toe.

Investor is a distraction during the times when you are supposed to focus unwaveringly on the customer.

By keeping customers at the centre of our focus, we haven’t had a board to please, no politics to play, no term sheets to live up to. It’s been quite an ass-kicking and blood drying experience at times; but nonetheless an experience which in turn improved our processes, product and knowledge base of the organisation. We didn’t have money to write off bad debts or goof up in our work; we were forced to go back to the customer, fix things that we messed up and stand there to get the payments. No matter how hard it was; it helped shape the behaviour of the entire organisation!

Come the third year of your business, the banks come lobbying to your doorsteps. They want you to put your money in their bank but the imbeciles won’t help you in your working capital or growth expenses. But in a way we understood the fact that no matter how much we hate banks, end customers are all found in a long and deep relationship with them. Banks did help us in a big way by introducing split payments and low interest loans wherein we were able to pump in revenues ahead of expenses helping greatly in the cash-flow (Or did it? ‘Coz the money they gave us; is still with them in the bank accounts! :D)

Conclusion is, do not shy away from anything that would put revenue in your company’s wallet. When your company gets to a size, the payroll is a monster in itself, it’s like a fucking Pac-Man eating your dots and you are left panting and searching to add more dots while the Pac-Man is just a dot away from biting your ass off.

Taking all that comes to you – sure shot way to suicide after your second year in business

Taking everything that comes to you helps you survive the first two years. Talk about next two years; if you continue doing it, you’d procedurally kill your own startup.

By the 2nd year you must know your target customer demographic. You must know where these people work, what cars they own, where they’d like to go on vacation, their view about money etc. If you don’t, it’s a good time you start reconsidering that job you so arrogantly kicked away. In our 3rd year we continued taking up small jobs; and no wonder these little projects hogged and clogged all the functions of the company. With every passing day and week the company bled money to the tunes of 2x or 3x of what the customer had paid.

Labour costs, employee costs, transportation costs, administration overheads, taxes and recurring bills aren’t forgiving. If your costs don’t justify a project/product – no matter how enticing or alluring; chuck it at the blink of an eye. You can get back to it when you are sitting on a pile of cash but not when you are constantly afraid of an upcoming salary day.

Learn to identify those 20% of customers that make up your 80% of top line and bottom line. Maximise these 20% to 100% and chuck away everything else.

Kick justdial, sulekha, asklaila – Huh, I believe many of us forgot sulekha and asklaila? If only you had made your strategies content first?

Really guys? You are supposed to be the beacons of transparency and ruthlessness; but instead you cheat your core mission by letting people flock to undeserving place in your listing with the power of money. What’s up with the shitty UI? You are supposed to be easy, predictable, accessible and available at the touch of fingers and yet you conveniently neglect the paramount importance of being a pioneer in technology; the bloody search bars don’t work with half the relevancy of 2000’s search engines.

How are you even surviving?? Oh yeah; you are devil’s little advocate. There is no reason why you shouldn’t be kicking these new age madly funded startups; but no; you prefer being in the comfort zone. Amen to that.

Bulldoze the Software Compliance Companies

Third year into the business, we could hardly afford the laptops in time after hiring. For weeks employees sat with other employees because we had to wait for the cash to buy the laptops. In comes walking the chanda people now dressed as Software Compliance. No offence with your line of work guys; but the whole ideology on which your entire organisation structure is built and the staff that’s packed in; you guys are a step and a baseball bat away from turning into mafia. The latter may prove much more profitable in my opinion.

If the nightmarish traffic which delays your delivery by half day, rains that ruin your goods, corrupt cops who pull aside your vehicle for meagre bucks, competitors who advertise with your brand name, SEO agency who run negative seo campaigns weren’t enough for you to go crazy; in come these headlong guys popping inside office space without a mail, without a call flashing their visiting cards.

At one point of time, I literally pulled up the P&L and the company’s bank account and asked the guy, “I know we’re supposed to be compliant, but now, look at this and tell me how can I make it happen without shutting down my company”. The idiot was far away from the reality that we were facing.

Me and my partners had to ask him to step outside and tell him not to come to office without prior appointment. We then decided to move to open source options for every other software we were using and had to buy a network management hardware and scare the shit out of everyone against downloading stuff. From then on; we have been in relationship with only those vendors who are sensible enough to understand how startups work and are ready to accommodate for us and be a partner in growth.

Food for thought: Couldn’t you idiots turn this into an opportunity? couldn’t you hunt those early startup who fall in your target market and lend them your software for free for first few years and then turn them into a loyal customer for life? I guess it’s not as enticing as extortion?

Know when to bulldoze these companies to your will.

Power of Partnerships

By third year in your business, you can sip a cup of coffee and spurt out the names of the vendors, dealers or distributors without whom you wouldn’t have made it so far. Make sure you convey your love towards them whenever you have a chance, and let your team know that you respect them. It’s easy for your employees to see them as someone who simply needs to be paid some money after the end of credit cycle, but it’s more than that. A yell, a scream and an abuse is more than enough to end a relationship that you so lovingly nurtured.

Keep in mind whether you drove a TVS XL 2 years back and now you are driving a Jaguar or a Landrover, part of it has to do with these generous businessmen who aren’t jealous of young and energetic few trying to encroach business world; but are people who selflessly and without a pinch of ego expose themselves to your energy, enthusiasm and passion. They love it too. If you can’t sense it; with all perverted reasons you can think of such as trade secret, patents, copyrights and other such bullshit, you are nothing more than a goofed up primary school child trading a mango tree for a Kit Kat.

When time permits; go back to them, thank them for being there when everything felt dark. Let them know that you’re having a bad month in business and they’ll share their pain too. Talk to them about your problems and ask them if they know someone who can help; help, they will. Keep talking to them and you begin to learn about the forces beyond your comprehension and control that can kill or launch your business to space. And hell yeah baby; we’re about to be launched 🙂

The way you see your company isn’t the way others see it: Employees

This was a hard learning for us founders. Ever since we set up our firm we had a firm belief in a work culture that is not extortive, values that were congruent to lessons that we learnt while growing up, and the ones which felt right at heart. When years pass and you have hundreds of people at your firm; you open your doors to every Tom dick and Harry. In matter of no time, you end up with handful employees who simply sit comfortably and keep scrolling through phones; and for whom the work they do is a favour for you, and they put a dent in the lives of other employees of greater sense of self and work. Compounding it is the whole bubble with funded companies who go on a hiring spree with double and triple the salaries, gathering every other guy who wants only money but doesn’t know what for and sending a wave of opinion among good people; that they aren’t being paid for what they’re worth.

Greed begets Greed. When these companies taste the dust, no wonder it’d be a lesson on two fronts; wait; 3 fronts?

Fix your hiring before it’s too late. Hire slow and fire fast. One single employee who doesn’t give a fuck about the values and philosophy of the company can tear down the work of art that you so lovingly put up for years. We had to face the brunt of it. We got carried away by resumes and experiences and the way people talked; and forgot to give importance to our gut feeling.

When something doesn’t feel right to you about an employee next time; do not swallow that feeling – do something about it; confront. You’d be astonished of the power of gut feeling that you somehow have stopped paying attention to now.

When your strength is above 20-30; its’ the right time to put an org structure in place. If you don’t do it in time; you’ll eventually run into power struggle leading to a situation wherein your employees feel so empowered, few of whom would already be convinced that their ideas and strategies are beyond your comprehension and you are the blockade for them. And sorry to say, it would all be your doing.

The way you see your company isn’t the way others see it: Customers

 

Now coming to the customers. I’d like to write about a strange phenomenon. I know I’m simply scratching the surface of the business but I’d like to bring it up nonetheless. No matter the magnitude of problems you may be facing, once you are on a righteous path and you’ve made your bit to build the brand; the popular opinion is very much distorted from what you feel customers may be thinking about you.

When the times were tough for us and things were shitty; we kept getting calls from customers and our well-wishers informing us on how big we’ve become. We received calls from friends telling us how they bumped into their colleagues discussing our firm. When we were struggling, opinion of the brand Bonito was of a war hero and of an artist; everybody was an evangelist.

When the time came where we felt we were now in control of the business and things looked calm; were the exact times when our customers started lashing out on social media and private groups.This left us in a bit of a shock wondering at the strangeness of ways in which the universe works.

It then dawned on us that we as founders were very much responsible for the sentiments and energy that we brought to our team which in turn was responsible for the quality of bulk of perception about the brand. We exaggerated failure sometimes and sometimes success and it had a compounding affect to either render the organisation in a state of despair where they felt “no matter what I do things would suck” or a state of complacency after success “now since I’ve done well, let me stretch”.

We then decided to change our approach to start stating the facts as they were and bring energy in whatever we were doing no matter how good or dire the states were.

Did this happen to you?:

It’s interesting to see the first few customers we had when we started up were the few who risked their money for us. They, somewhere in the corner of their heart had the feeling, “let me give them a chance”. Not only did they fund our little startup in a way; they were generous enough to offer insights and opinions that helped us shape the company that it is now. After we gained size and reputation; things changed. Customers now are more expectant and less forgiving, they want best quality, for the least price and in fastest time; add to that the inefficiencies and lack of clarity of your organisation; and you have a class ‘A’ mess happening at every other work you do.

For some reason, you will bump into customers who feel that once they’ve paid you; they own you and you owe them.

Now a trailing moral question: Would you course-correct your business to serve the common denominator of customers and gear your product and services to appeal to this crowd and you walk away with billions in cash? Or would you hold on to your values and philosophy and risk reducing your target market to a minuscule size? Now since I’m a strong believer of dynamics of supply and demand; were we in a way responsible for all the shitty products that are floating around us? What would you do?

If you’re not kicking ass; you’re done with; for once everyone must know who’s the boss

If you’ve grown a company from scratch; you will run into times when you have to take decisions that would be momentarily displeasing for all. These are the times you can’t give in. You may convince yourself that you should get a consensus from your team members; but you are forgetting the fact that the reason for their presence in the company and the reason for the presence of the company itself is you.

Change is a bitch. No one likes it. Neither are employees willing to change to abide new process, new structure and newer rules, nor would you be willing to change to make hard and blunt choices and decisions. You let this situation slip or you drown in the ocean of agonies among employees about “he said this to me for that”, “she shouldn’t have done this”, “this shouldn’t be that way”; you are only elongating the agony of everyone and the day won’t be far when each one of you would have to part ways for good.

It’s no wonder even adults act like kids; be wise enough to catch it when it happens; and act like an adult. Walk inside the classroom and kick everyone’s ass and then watch how the classroom becomes silent.

Show that you value everyone; but also let everyone know who the boss is. There will always be decisions to be made which can’t be explained or brought to a consensus upon; people who truly value you would eventually understand.

Keep co founders & core team near your heart

There was a time where the three of us co-founders almost stopped talking to each other because of aggravated differences in the perspectives we had towards our business. I felt that it was high time to bring in technology, structure, order and processes, my other partner felt that revenues had to be increased immediately and work had to be done with no lethargy or else there would be no company left to make processes for; and she was right in a way. My other partner simply wanted to keep the machine running and take a breath or two (in a way he too was right as we were about to go mad with the pressure). One of us took the initiative and we all gathered for a lunch. First few minutes were awkward and then we let each one of us talk our heart out. It was such a relief; we switched our roles to the break monotony and we have kept the habit of such sessions ever since.

Biggest of empires have fallen not because of an enemy; but because of an internal conflict. Kick the ego out of the window. Always remember that it’s up to you few to decide the fate for people who have followed your dream. It’s up to you to make it. When enough time has passed; many would eventually understand.

Lose the fear of Losing

If you are lucky; by the third or fourth year, you’d have made enough money to cover your daily costs and may be enough for you to travel to exotic locations. I’ve been brought up in a very frugal family; and beyond a certain amount of money, I was clueless with its application. It’s building the business that gave me a kick much more than money.

Despite of this, whenever I took a moment for myself; I imagined myself facing a day when my business goes bankrupt; when I may end up losing everything I have. Then comes this thought which tells me “No matter what you lose; how can anybody take away what’s inside you?”. The next moment I fantasize how it would all be if I’m given a second chance to re-do everything I did till date? Or if not this; what else would it be?

Isn’t that an exciting thought in itself? All the possibilities and all the undiscovered pathways? Always be prepared to go back to that stinky 1 bedroom flat; be prepared to go back to that village; may be now you know better about farming?

Now think back on the decisions you’re taking; are you afraid to lose?

Your self image would be chewed, squashed, ground and flushed down the toilet

As much as enthralling and adrenaline ride were the first two years; so much painful, emotionally traumatic and personally unforgiving the next 2 years were. When I wrote the last article; I felt I had seen enough. God I was wrong! Now I’ve heard, felt, seen, known, read, been and tolerated enough.

Before you realise; you progress in a pathway wherein you are in battle with yourself. There’s one version of you which stands ground and says “this is what I believed in all along my life and this is what must be done” and then there is a version of you that says, “that’s what’s been fucking everything up and you must do this if things have to become right”.

This is the fight you go through every time you bombard a loyal employee, ask a great friend but a bad performer to resign, stop lending money to employees for marriages, operations, sickness simply because now you can’t, deny a vacation to someone, bring a senior employee, corner a good customer for the sake of company policy and simply because company can’t always run on exceptions.

All said and done, everybody at your firm is either ecstatic or grumpy with your decisions; but none would come up and ask what’s been going on with you. Everybody without exception falls flat for the peaceful smile you carry along with you day in and day out.

Very few would sense that a person has been torn apart in pieces and now he stands atop of it trying to make sense of it all. Good, bad, great, ugly, right, wrong, just and unjust are all relative terms and are thrown out of window. When this happen, you can opt to be a emotional wreck, or you can opt to become a character of planetary weight. Choose wisely.

Compassion, Love & Peace

To conclude;

If you ever have kids; send them to a boarding school and ask them to run a business later on, nothing else can make a better man/woman out of your kids than this.

I had the opportunity to do both. I wouldn’t be lying that I’d be content even if I died tomorrow. Both have taught me a lot about how the world works. How valuable everything around is. I’m grateful for the food, the home that I have, the family that’s always warm to me, for clean drinking water; for the air I breathe and every second that I live. I’m eternally grateful and indebted for being alive.

But there are things that concern me.

The more and more people have begun to call me successful, the less and less wise I’ve begun to feel about myself and the world. Everything that anyone needed was just a stretch of hand away. Why then desert that little village of love and travel all the way to the city? Why buy a car when there is no space to park and no place to drive on the road? Why buy a villa when you only stay there when you want to sleep? Why wear Armani, Gucci, rado when we don’t have the humanity to bring good vegetables and food to people? Would you change job because you want a new car or bought a new car because you have a new job? How does that even make any fucking sense? How can we sit in AC and stuff our stomachs with burgers and fries that travelled for months to that fast food joint while there are homeless sitting right outside who are hungry most times, but when eats; does it better than us?

I had the opportunity to travel many countries and fortunate to witness and understand the working of the world. I know there’s a lot to know and understand; but from what I’ve seen, I don’t see any difference in the way us Indians are headed when the future we are contemplating is going to be no better than the ones that we’re witnessing in the west. Filled with infrastructure and convenience and lacking the happiness and contentment that we already have here. When I see people around me, I imagine a handful of greedy individuals who have rigged the planet for their benefit and we all merely are reflecting their value system. After all; the employees enact leaders; and we’ve been enacting all wrong leaders all our lives.

All of us always feel we need better infrastructure, better governance, better this better that; but I honestly feel each one of us have the ability to bring love, compassion and peace into the world. If only we stopped asking what others did for us and for once, let go of all the anger and frustration and once; just for once experienced the pure joy of being compassionate, loving and peaceful.

May be that’s what I’d do; comment here if you’d like to read the 5th year post?
annual
We just had our 4th anniversary; proud of my people 🙂

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18 Comments

  1. Profile photo of asha chaudhry

    WHOA. i took a long time going through your post sameer – but it was worth it!!

    first of all WELCOME BACK. now don’t fall off a cliff and come back to share your story only after the 5th year. pls stay in touch!!

    i think your post will resonate with many many folks who don’t express what they are going to, and haven’t really sat down to write what all happens. so KUDOS TO YOU for putting all of this down and baring your soul. not many people are able to be as candid as you have been – totally naked as i call it! as a founding entrepreneur that’s the only way one has to be!

    i think a lot of people will totally agree with some of your points, but may totally disagree on some others. either way i think your story, your journey, your mistakes, your learnings and your ability to share it all with us (with no holds barred!!) is commendable. so thank you for the massive effort you have put in sharing this one!

    pls add your twitter handle at the end so i can mention it while tweeting right away!!

  2. Profile photo of Sameer A M

    Thanks a lot Asha for taking the time out. Glad I got across without any censors this time 😛

    I definitely plan on being active going forward. Lot to learn here..

    my twitter handle is @sam2san

  3. Profile photo of asha chaudhry

    sameer – we are probably one of the most liberal (startup or other) communities in india where we don’t get offended by people using f-words to express themselves. very rarely do i advise a rodinhooder to tweak/delete something – and that is only when something comes across as obscene or offensive. i remember my editorial suggestions (which you may refer to “censorship”) to you in a para of your first post. it was perceived as offensive. btw, to be completely objective, i always seek 2-3 other rodinhooders’ opinions 🙂

  4. Profile photo of Jitesh

    Nicely written article!

    Yes, the struggle makes us better & stronger. It makes us realise the value of family, own life, others life and other resources.

    “……ask them to run a business later on, nothing else can make a better man/woman out of your kids than this.

    I had the opportunity to do both. I wouldn’t be lying that I’d be content even if I died tomorrow. Both have taught me a lot about how the world works. How valuable everything around is. I’m grateful for the food, the home that I have, the family that’s always warm to me, for clean drinking water; for the air I breathe and every second that I live. I’m eternally grateful and indebted for being alive.”

  5. Profile photo of Pannashri Gupta

    Great article Sameer!! I so so appreciate the honesty with which you have spoken about your successes and failures and lessons learnt from both. I hope you guys have a great future and please do share your experiences when you complete the 5th year 🙂

  6. Profile photo of Lakshdeep Rajput

    Having slogged for 5+ years as a co-founder of a bootstrapped company, I could relate to each and everything you just mentioned. Having similar experiences tell me that the entire post has been written from the heart. 

    I think life as an entrepreneur is all about navigating through these experiences each time every time.

    More power to you! 

  7. Profile photo of Suma Santosh

    nice article…………

  8. Profile photo of Hardik Vaidya

    Thanks for sharing this Sameer. More force to you and the team.
    Gratitude is that light in a dark tunnel.

  9. Profile photo of Sameer A M

    Thank you jitesh 🙂

  10. Profile photo of Sameer A M

    Will do for sure Pannashri 🙂 thanks a lot

  11. Profile photo of Sameer A M

    True to what you say Lakshdeep; I wish you all the best for your company as well..

  12. Profile photo of Sameer A M

    Thank you Suma

  13. Profile photo of Sameer A M

    Thanks for the wishes Hardik

  14. Profile photo of asha chaudhry

    hey sameer – i just messed up the top of your post!!

    🙂

  15. Profile photo of Vinit B

    Sameer,

    This is a very strong post. And the people who will truly get your sentiment are those who have gone through almost EVERYTHING that you have listed.

    It’s scary – but also reassuring after reading your topics that some of these may be self-inflicted, but most of the reasoning behind them is the way startups are designed to function.

    Thanks for writing this and good luck!

    – Vinit

  16. Profile photo of Sameer A M

    Wow ! Absolutely honoured Asha 🙂

  17. Profile photo of Sameer A M

    Thanks Vinit ; but don’t you think startup in itself is self inflicted 😉

  18. Profile photo of Anil Rajan

    This is too good a post. Having worked for a similar company during a bad phase, i somehow feel bad for my CEO. In a country who only celebrate success, hardly anyone comes with a post like this once they are successful.

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