The Rodinhoods Open Houses have always been close to my heart – call it the unbeatable charisma of Alok sir, the insane passion of Asha or the dare devil, brave enthusiasm of fellow Rodinhooders; Open House is one of those events which I call an ‘Entrepreneurial Pilgrimage’.
The day I booked my tickets from Delhi to Mumbai for attending this unique gathering of ‘Thinkers, Doers & Rodinhooders’, I happened to talk with one of my old time friends, who has just left his job to start his own venture. He asked me at the end of the conversation, “Boss, faida kya hai jaane ka?”
I was actually stunned for a moment.. He was talking just like my old manager, who sought ROI in every action (even that chocolate which he bought for his 2 year kid – “he will keep quiet for the next 60 minutes”, he used to say).
I boldly replied him, “Bhai, faide ka to pata nahi, par na jaane se nuksaan zarur ho jayega” (Brother, I have no idea about the profit, but yes, the it would be a great loss if I don’t go)
The vibes, ideas, vision and thoughts which I experienced at the Open House was actually beyond my expectations.
In fact, a strange, imposing zen powered energy was strongly felt during the Open House, as entrepreneurs & dreamers laid bare their deepest secrets and fantasies right at the altar of that ancient hall, filled with 500+ super energetic attendees.
Alas, no matter how long I write this post, the actual feeling would be never be shared with that friend: Simply because some things in life are simply priceless.
Zen & Belly of Capitalism
Open House 2016 was conducted at the International Convention Hall situated on the 1st floor of Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) at Dalal Street in Fort area of Mumbai. With a market capital of $1.7 trillion distributed among 5500 odd companies, BSE is in fact the world’s fastest and Asia’s largest stock exchange.
After the rigorous police checks, I was slowly climbing the marble floors, and the main lobby welcomed me with a huge, giant chandelier. As I stood underneath it, watching the surrounding walls and the exquisite floor, a strange energy engulfed me, overwhelmed me to some extent. I remembered that the place is 140 year old, having witnessed the ups and downs of God knows how many entrepreneurs & investors.
As Alok sir later quoted, it was indeed the ‘Belly of Capitalism’; the epicenter of the Indian financial world and all of a sudden, ghosts of thousands of rich men, poor men, greedy men, cunning men, honest men and great men whizzed past me in that single instant. All of these men and women, who stood at the same very spot, with dreams of achieving the impossible.
You may say, my first Zen experience happened right there, standing at the threshold of BSE as I was about to witness a phenomenon which can only be felt, not written.
Anupam Mittal – The Entrepreneur & The Zen Master
Usually, Alok sir is the only zen master present during a normal Rodinhoods Open House. But this time, Anupam Mittal gave him tough competition.
Anupam, the veteran entrepreneur-investor who has created Shaadi.com, Makaan.com, Mauj Mobile; has invested in startups like Ola, JustRide and Café Zoe, mesmerized the audience with his deep, ‘zen’ answers on the most controversial, burning questions.
The high point of the day was the ‘Keychat session’ along with Alok sir, wherein Anupam almost converted into a Zen Master, armed with the psychology of solutions and philosophy of logic. While we listened to him speaking on business and investments, the answers which we received were more on the lines of Karma and Reincarnation.
As Anupam was introduced to the stage, Alok sir asked the audience, “How many people have not heard about Shaadi.com?” When none of the hands shot up, he exclaimed, “That’s his introduction”.
I am sure that Alok sir’s awesome questions and probing extracted this hidden quality of Anupam, which very few were aware of till that moment.
For instance, when Alok sir asked him: “Need creation or Serving the Need?”; then like a typical Zen Lord, Anupam asked us to first think outside this question, and focus on the ‘Why’ part (which is Alok sir’s favorite, eternal question!)
While answering this particular question (declared as ‘Billion dollar question’ by Anupam himself), he graciously shared priceless gems of entrepreneurial wisdom, which is so desperately sought by clueless, naïve entrepreneurs and so ruthlessly hidden by veteran folks.
As the theory of gratification, the science behind customer’s satisfaction and deep, black secrets of Apple’s success came tumbling out, the massive auditorium was hushed into a mysterious silence, which was only broken when a long spell of applause disrupted it.
The Zen Way of Understanding Digital Business
“To understand consumerism, you need to visit USA”, said Anupam, as he ‘juxtaposed’ several Indian and American scenarios to prove his logic and to clarify beyond reasoning.
“You don’t buy an iPhone because you need a phone, you buy it because it satisfies you”, he declared as we delved deeper into the ‘zenstudy’ of business and economics, profits and loss, digital and mobile.
“FDI in Digital is bad. It’s simply the biggest mistake our Government has done, which will prevent billionaires from being born in India.”, shared Anupam, as everyone grabbed on to every word which was being spoken there.
“China is now trying to conquer Indian internet business as well”, he gave the warning in the most honest manner I have ever seen or heard.
When Alok sir enquired about the future Digital trends which can impact Indian business decisions, Anupam explained that due to Internet and Mobile, the world is now a common village. An 8 year old kid in both US and India are sharing the same aspirations, as they are watching the same TV shows, reading the same books and listening to the same music.
But the difference here is affordability and availability; and this is the area where the next generation of Indian entrepreneurs can focus on, right now.
“Tier 2/3 consumers in India also desire a foreign apparel brand, why should they satisfy themselves with Manish Malhotra?”, asked Anupam, as he gave us a hint of the possibilities. (dress rental business anyone?)
Debunking the myth that venture capital is a necessity for success, Anupam silenced the critics when he shared that 2/3rd of all successful companies in US are self-funded. On a question about the much hyped ‘tech business’, he clarified the whole model by stating that most of the entrepreneurs in this niche are ‘me too entrepreneurs’, with virtually zero differentiator and zilch USP.
Suddenly thousands of ideas bloomed into the minds as he put emphasis on using technology for your business, rather than be in the business of tech.
I wonder how many MBAs sitting in that hall unlearned everything they thought was the Holy Gospel of Truth!
Zen and The Artist and The Entrepreneur
I will admit that I am heavily influenced by the Seth Godin School of Marketing, which says that every entrepreneur is an artist. Except Alok sir’s articles and talks, I have hardly found any big shot entrepreneur focusing on this deep, spiritual linking of being an artist and being an entrepreneur.
And Anupam sliced it like a hot knife going through the butter.
During one such question, he told that he always wanted to be an artist: someone who keeps on doing that one thing which makes him alive; accomplished; complete.
“It is actually a meditation for me”, he shared, most probably pointing to the business and investments he does day in and day out.
When Alok sir asked him, “What next?”, he replied, “Figure out what to do in life.”
Something similar must have been Steve Jobs’ intention, when he said “Stay Hungry Stay Foolish.”
This is Part 1 of the Open House Roundup. In Part 2, we will revisit the awesome FinTech panel moderated by veteran TV personality Suresh Venkat and understand the passion and dreams of those entrepreneurs who were brave enough to face the crowd at BSE on January 16th, 2015. Stay tuned!
I am Mohul Ghosh, a Writer & a proud Rodinhooder. I blog about business & marketing at Trak.in and manage Social Media at APN News Channel (Noida). I am ‘almost’ done with my first fiction novel (which I have been saying for the last 3 years) and about to start my first non-fiction book on Digital Marketing and Content Creation. Follow me on Twitter or become friends on Facebook.