Disclaimer: Today is September 16th, 2013 and I am sitting right inside the Games2Win office, and writing this blog post! This was something I always thought of doing: Writing about Rodinhoods at its birthplace, and here it is. I hope the post is good 🙂
Around last week of August, Asha told me that The Rodinhoods Open House at National Stock Exchange would be huge. Not only Sumant Mandal, the enigmatic VC would be present, but also 200+ Mumbai entrepreneurs and dreamers would assemble and along with Alok, it would be a really entrepreneurial feast.
She told me that you won’t regret attending the event.
As the universe conspires to help you achieve what you want, circumstances converged so as to make me visit Mumbai and made me attend this super event. And boy! It was awesome.
Belly of Capitalism – NSE
The meetup started with a welcome speech by Alok, wherein he described the place as “belly of capitalism”. Yes, for the uninitiated, National Stock Exchange lists the top 50 companies of India, and the venue couldn’t have been better!
As Sumant Mandal and Alok Kejriwal occupied the stage, there began a questions and answers session, wherein Alok donned the cap of Devil’s Advocate, and asked some very relevant and practical questions. In reply, Sumant was modest, humble and brutally honest in answering them. The sheer humbleness and modesty of Sumant left a mark on everyone present there. His words were calculated, balanced and extremely true. And just for records, this was for the first time that I heard a VC talk.
After that, the four selected entrepreneurs presented their journey so far, and asked some more questions about their future growth and scale. Each and every question posted by these passionate entrepreneurs resonated with everyone present there. The experience and the insight which I was absorbing by that time was really awesome.
At the end, Anand Nair from Youtube presented the Youtube story, and explained how publishers and content creators can use Youtube and grow their platform. Finally, Alok distributed free copies of the book, “Autobiography of the Yogi” and clicked photographs with everyone.
So, here are the key takeaways, which remained with me after the event. Not necessarily in any particular order, but these are the Gems of Entrepreneurial Journey.
– “VCs are pain in the ass” – Sumant Mandal, VC.
I suppose this holds true for every business venture. If you are investing money and energy into a project, then you have to be brutal and brave. It is the necessity here, not the option. Citing an example, Sumant said, “Vinod Khosla was one my VCs during the early stage, and he was a real pain in the ass!”
Takeaway: Getting VC money is not success. VCs will make your life hell. Are you emotionally and mentally strong to handle this pressure?
– “Firing actually helps the employees” – Sumant Mandal
Explaining this pointer, Sumant told that hiring and firing should be done really fast. And by firing fast, you are actually doing that employee a favor. The sooner he will get fired, the faster he would be able to discover where he is good at, excel that activity. Delaying the firing part will be bad for everyone.
Takeaway: Find what you are good at, and be the best in the business.
– “You don’t need VC money” – Sumant Mandal
Unless absolutely necessary, don’t ask a VC for his money. Just 1% of all VC funded companies actually make money. It means that over 90% of VC funded companies are those, which shouldn’t have been funded! For every Twitter success, there are hundreds of failures. But as Silicon Valley is a small group of daring entrepreneurs and VCs, only the success stories are highlighted. Failures are often hidden and forgotten. Ask your mom, your dad, use your savings or take a loan; but don’t ask VCs for their money. It should be the last resort.
– “For Ecommerce startups, scalability is the key to success, not cheap price. Cheap is not a long term strategy.”
– “Failure is important”
Sharing a small anecdote, Sumant told us, in Clearstone Ventures, if they observe that 1/3rd of their projects are NOT failing, then it’s clear that they are doing something which will never succeed! Failure makes you realize the importance of success. Fail fast and fail often. Comparing with India, he shared that the ability to take risks and to fail is seen as a tragedy in India, but bravery in USA. Entrepreneurs must fail in order to succeed.
– “Being close to your customers is more important; Geographical boundaries don’t exist now”
It is more important to be close to your customer, rather than be in the same geographical location of your customer. With the web and mobile, geographical limitations have blurred.
– “When you see the changes in culture, then you create Facebook!”
This was in reply to a question about the geographical limitations and priorities of your customers.
– “Israeli network is strongest in USA”
Maybe this is the reason there are lots of startups and entrepreneurs from Israel? Although there are more Indians in USA, but they are not united. Citing another example, Sumant shared that they have invested in a lot of companies from Israel, and have observed that most of the innovations comes from one particular military unit in Israel.
– “Don’t think and analyze much. Just do it!”
Another interesting anecdote from Sumant: This was in reply to a question by Alok, where he shared that there are so many unique ideas and creations as published on Tech Crunch. How is it even possible?
There was one successful entrepreneur in USA, who got panic attacks every now and then. Doctors said that he is perfectly normal and all tests were negative. But still, he got panic attacks. Finally, his doctor prescribed him one thing: Stop reading TechCrunch!
Takeaway: Instead of seeing what others are doing, find out your strength; your power. Focus on what you can achieve and do. And just damn do it.
I know pretty damn well that I wrote only 1/4th of the things I listened and experienced that day, as it was really over-whelming. But I tried my best. If you were present there, and experienced the mega event, then please add your own version/insights here.
I sincerely pray and hope that Delhi Open House dates are announced soon.
Over to The Rodinhoods Community!