So the day finally arrived when I attended the FIRST ever meet up of my life. (Yes, you read that right. Introvert, remember?) I’ll be honest with you I was dreading it. The thought of meeting so many people in the same room was terrifying but I made a commitment and I decided to keep it. Plus, I really, really, wanted to meet Asha and Aarini!
I headed to the venue straight from my office, mentally preparing myself. Bonus: I got to spend additional time with the lovely mother-daughter pair. People started walking in soon and I was perched in my spot, taking down notes already. Abhishek, the anchor, officially started the event with a small overview on we took off.
Once the seats filled up, introductions began. The nervousness turned to thrill with each intro. From aspiring entrepreneurs to interesting stories to entrepreneurs looking for co-founders, we had them all in the 30 odd people who showed up. I mean, the diversity was a pleasant surprise and I realize just how much potential Hyderabad really has!
The enthusiasm was contagious and it just kept growing. Interactions began during this phase itself. No one wanted to wait for the networking phase to get to know each other!
Meet the Rodinhooders!
1. Santosh (Truckopedia): Owns a food truck discovery service. Anything you want to know about the food truck business, he is your guy! From permits to set up a food truck to locating the nearest food truck to you! What’s more, they service the entire country.
2. Saurab: He heads a virtual incubation startup. They provide capital to startups! As Asha put it, you should all have his contact details and picture on your phone!
3. New dad Daya Gaddala (Visual Tonality): This amazing gentleman came straight from the hospital to attend the meet up! He owns a photography and videography startup and specializes in “anything visual.” We wish him and his newborn lots of happiness and success!
4. Karthik (Dry Wheel): Karthik hails from Vizag. He owns a waterless car cleaning service. He is also planning on starting another venture on the lines of entrepreneurial awareness, providing them with mentorship.
5. Rahul Jacob (Ride It): Rahul’s startup helps corporate employees with ride sharing options. They bring together people who can offer rides and who need rides. When cars aren’t available, they send dedicated cars as well! Ride It raised funding recently!
After graduation, Karthik tried a couple of entrepreneurial ideas before having the epiphany that is popularly known as My Dream Store. His earlier ventures didn’t really solve a problem or make a difference to anyone. This realization made him think harder and come up with a brilliant new concept.
Seeing as to how difficult it was to cope up with dead inventory, he decided to use technology to solve the problem. He started Mera Merchandise but due to lack of coding knowledge, it stumbled. He started again in 2014, this time calling it My Dream Store, and today, his bootstrapped startup that takes your design idea to execute and market it is funded and is scaling to greater heights.
Takeaways from Karthik Venkat:
1. Get validation from customers first. Understand why they don’t want to buy from you. Realize where you are going wrong. You can approach the investors after that.
2. Money is not the only thing you need. Money won’t bring you the right people to work with.
3. When you hire, see it as a see it as a long term association. Hire someone you think you can work with through out your life.
4. Be ruthless when you are firing. Keep your emotions out. (This advice he got from Alok over email!)
5. Your team is the most important part of your startup. Success depends on the team.
6. Believe in yourself. Only if you believe that you can stretch your limits can you stretch them. BELIEVE.
7. Books will tell you a lot but you really won’t execute them. Experience counts. That is why you should attend meetings and interact with everyone.
8. Experiment! The worst that can happen is failure and, mind you, failure is not a bad thing!
Rituraj is one of the earliest Rodinhooders. His paratha delivery service was completely offline to begin with. He moved to Hyderabad in 2013 and his first day revenue was 3000 INR. There was no looking back after that. Today, Paratha Post is not just funded but also acquired! It now a part of Hello Curry with 2 crore revenue!
While they are expanding big, Rituraj has joined another startup in Delhi. He now wants to lay off for a couple of years and “give back the life I took from my family.” (One of the sweetest, most touching things ever, isn’t it?)
Takeaways from Rituraj:
1. A big wad of money won’t solve your problems. You need to have a consistent flow of money from your operations.
2. Passion is good but it doesn’t bring home food. Be objective while making decisions.
3. Be ruthless. (See how this has been repeated?)
4. Trust your partner. If you can’t trust him, you simply cannot build a business together. (It was amazing how he kept mentioning his partner Mukesh throughout.)
Mubaid is one of the most refreshing people ever. There’s a certain air of sincerity even in his smile that makes you want to listen to him. And, oh boy, what a journey he has had! With an aim to start the “coolest T-shirt brand in India,” he started Lazy Ninja. Despite discouragement and taunts, he went ahead with his dream.
He had no experience, no business knowledge, and no money. He had to even take a loan to create his current account! Some of his friends pooled in to get him off his feet. Thus, he had 20,000 INR to get started. Initially he was only on Facebook but two and a half year down the line, he has managed to convert the 13,000 INR into 3.5 crore revenue!
He faced hiccups throughout with lakhs of rupees being stolen once, a vendor disappearing after being paid, and what not. He had to start from ground zero quite a few times but nothing hurt his spirit.
While he was happy that his “incoming was more than outgoing,” he went on to share how he got carried away by the whole “investor bear trap.” Seeing how everyone else around him was raising funds, he thought he should do it too. The distraction made him lose focus and his business suffered. That taught him never to lose focus and to concentrate on his goals.
Takeaways from Mubaid Syed:
1. Bootstrapping is highly recommended.
2. Don’t compare yourself with anyone. You definitely don’t need funding just because everyone else does/is.
3. Complete and utter focus is the key to success.
4. As long as you are happy, stick with your small business. It is not about the size of the business. It is about your satisfaction.
5. Don’t keep changing yourself and your business model for investors. Stick to what you are doing and the right one will ultimately invest.
By now I had loosened up and was enjoying myself, despite not having uttered a word. We posed for a group photo and then it was time for refreshments and networking. At this point, the enthusiasm was out of the charts. Everyone started mixing up, exchanging business cards, getting to know each other better, and cracking a joke or two.
The food sponsor: The First Meal
The delicious snacks were brought to us by the amazing team of The First Meal, a budding startup, focusing on the most important (and neglected) meal of the day. Everything from packaging to the quality (freshness) of food was spot on. I loved how neatly they had stacked the food in the box. The samosas were especially delicious!
I don’t know how meet ups usually are but I can positively say, through the expressions and feedback, that this one was a huge success. While I am still skeptic about meeting people, I wouldn’t mind attending more TheRodinhoods meet ups in the future.
Thank you, Asha, for making this possible. Thank you, everyone who came and brightened up the atmosphere with their amazing stories. Yaayy to Hyderabad and double yayyy to TheRodinhoods! J
Added by the Editor: Rodinhooders of Hyderabad are grateful to Rodinhooder Joginder (who is an inventor!) for graciously hosting the meetup at one of his offices. He was busy that day giving interviews on his latest invention but managed to attend the entire meetup which extended till 9pm!! Check out what he’s made!