Last saturday, unexpectedly I got a call to share my experiences with Technology Entrepreneurship with a group of budding ‘technopreneurs’. Though the event got postponed to next week, it triggered me to incite certain thought about what were the most important lessons I have learnt from my 2 years stint with Technology Entrepreneurship, first as a student, then as an incubatee and finally as an entrepreneur.
Points which came immediately to my mind were:
1) Idea ka paisa nahi hai ! (Having just an Idea is worthless)
2) Follow a systematic approach to finding an idea/solution
3) It is all about PEOPLE
4) Equity is Shit
5) Sometimes Mentoring is more important than just funds
Idea ka Paisa nahi hai
This was one of the first lessons I learnt from my initial days at NirmaLabs. This got reiterated when I had to painfully give up my ‘billion dollar idea’ of Microfluidic Diagnostic Chips for Indian rural population.I soon realized that, just having an Idea means NOTHING, unless followed by a implementation. Many people give undue importance to come up with an earth shattering idea, but fails to understand the implementation of the same in real scenario.
Follow a systematic approach to Finding an idea/solutions
This is a point which would take up at-least 3 pages of my blog, so I would restrict myself to giving just an intro into it. Until joining an incubator I always used to think that ‘ideas’ are just for the lucky lot. I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that ANYONE could come up with a real solution/idea for existing problems if you start looking at ‘Pain-Points’ and not a use for the technology you have learnt.
Another major advantage of using this approach is that it would not make you ‘POSSESSIVE’ to your idea even though you are so passionate about it. This would help you to validate your idea at each step and to drop it if it doesnt qualify to be a feasible one.
More often, Entrepreneurs fail to quit at the right time and this is one major lesson to be learnt.
It is all about PEOPLE
If you can’t manage people, you better stay away from being an entrepreneur. Overlooking this one point, has taken many startups to its end so quickly. At all stages, you are bound to manage people. Be it your partner, employees, investor, advisors, suppliers..anyone… It is an Entrepreneur’s never ending duty to manage people. I have seen many startups dying without any success, just because the founders are not comfortable after a while amongst themselves.
So to be a successful entrepreneur, learn soft skills and Network.
When I joined the incubator, I hardly knew a VC. It just took me less than an year to get in touch some of the ‘who’s who’ of the industry, potential investors, like minded entrepreneurs etc. Networking is the Key.
Equity is Shit
I heard this phrase in one of the talks by some eminent entrepreneur through TED talks. He said: Equity is just like Shit. The more it is distributed the less it stinks.
Entrepreneurs have a tendency to cling onto maximum amount of equity, claiming that they are going to lose the control of their own baby. But just a little deep thought into it would make things clearer.
Which one is better ?. Having 80% share in a 1 crore company or having 30% share in a 10 crore company ? Larger the pie, better would be your share. So if you want to grow your pie bigger, be ready to shell out equity to other stake holders. Many people fails to understand this concept.
Mentoring is more important than just funds
Disclaimer 1: Here Mentor means more than an advisor. Nowadays any tom, dick and harry is a mentor..but am not mentioning about such mentors
Disclaimer 2: This point is more relevant to first gen Entrepreneurs
For me, this has been a golden rule. If I have no clue about an area am working on, I immediately get a ‘mentor’ for me from the same. This has helped me immensely while taking certain decisions on a go. Sometimes, you really need an experienced opinion while taking a decision. Be it a decision on a key technological issue, or deciding terms & conditions of a Term sheet, or going for new recruits or investments… It is always a great help to get some second opinion regarding the decision you have taken. Ultimately though it’s your call, a Good Mentor is as good as a Co-founder.