Friday, June 13, 2014

Musings of a Struggling Entrepreneur

Prepared jointly by Arnav (IIT KGP + DB + UrbanTouch + Sokratik + Carcredible) and Pratik (IITB + Morgan Stanley + Blackstone + Clipr + Tomonotomo + ZippedNews + Spiral Media)

Stopping for a second to look back at my startup journey - some points in no order.

1) Marketing and sales are important - even for tech startups. Nothing sells itself. The movie Social Network did not talk about it. Its not only about the product. "Bijnessman wahi hai jise bechna aata ho"

2) Accept failure quickly, learn from your mistakes and iterate fast. "Subah ka bhoola shaam ki jagah agar din mein hi ghar aa jaye to behtar"

3) Do not fuss about equity. Be equal partners and go ahead. "Ye dosti hum nahin todenge"

4) Listen to VCs with a pinch of salt - They have all the time in the world to talk. You don't. They would want that you either succeed quickly so that they can invest, or fail quickly so that they can hire you for one of their portfolio companies. Do not get excited if a VC is talking to you.

5) The biggest job of the CEO is to inspire. You have to inspire your co-founders, employees and investors. You have to set a vision and short term action strategy for everyone.

6) All startups need leaders. Down with democracy. When everyone has an equal say, things move slow. add the fact that the group has smart, opinionated people and you will never build true consensus. Successful founding teams have one person who has the final call. The rest go along. Earn that trust & respect, LEAD, take the tough decisions yourself and get others to run with the decision

7) Ideas before friends. Good ideas, when executed well, make money. Friends don't . We are a group of people who want to do a startup together and are looking for an idea - e.p.i.c. FAIL! Find ideas independently, look for co-founders for executing it. It is your job to find an idea. Find an opportunity - Then ask your friends to come along for the ride. But pick out the destination yourself

8) Take lonely decisions. Just because it is a startup doesn't mean you have to discuss and debate everything among co-founders. Don't expect anyone else to take decisions for you. There is no magic wand. Mr. CEO, you need to decide. Take inputs but decide on your own. Take the blame for wrong decisions. Try to be correct as often as you can. Keep the decision making swift.

9) Make things happen. This is a startup. Nothing happens on its own. no emails and phone calls will magically find your inboxes. Everything that happens, happens because you make it happen. Do your job, make it happen

10) Make peace with the sub-optimal. Find the next milestone for the business (funding/ revenue/ more funding/ hiring/ growth/ profitability) and focus your energy on that. It is ok to grow like crazy while having sub-optimal decisions. Be ok with the sub-optimal as long as you are on track for what matters most.

11) Get married to your co-founders, but don't sleep together. people. product .personality in that order. Prioritise your co-founders' happiness. Next comes the startup itself. Make your quirks, passions, opinion, ego and interest a distant third. Marry your co-founder and treat him as your wife.(irritates you, is difficult but you still give in happily to her) . Avoid staying together though, too much face-time builds stress. Living together never lets you get out of office completely. Builds stress, hampers cooling-off. Abstinence, please !

12) Be happy : Never a beautiful creation did an unhappy man make. Find out what keeps you happy, go after it. Unhappy founders don't stand a chance.

Be good. Do good. :-) Cheers!