Thursday, April 9, 2009

Mumbai Mentoring Session - Part I

At the Mumbai leg of The Elevator Pitch Mentoring Sessions, the auditorium was abuzz with potential entrepreneurs hobnobbing with other aspirants and angel investors. A crowd of 350 plus turned up for the two hour Mentoring Session that included insights and learnings from experienced, successful entrepreneurs across the country. The session took off to a ceremonious start with Vinod Mahanta, Editor-Corporate Dossier, saluting all the entrepreneurial hopefuls that had the courage to believe.

Mr. Harish Mehta, Co-Founder Nascom and Founder Indian Angel Network, then kicked off the session that included prominent panelists Mr. Priyank Garg, Mr.Satya Bansal, Mr. Bharat Banka and Mr. Vipul Mankad among others.

Commenced Mr. Mehta, “In today's turbulent financial times, the Entrepreneur will act as a change agent in society and create jobs, not the existing multinational companies.” Moving on, he encouraged the audience to believe in their talent, passion and keep intact their ability to convert an idea into a business reality.

Adding to Mr. Mehta's learnings was Mr. Rayver Khan,, an international flower delivery specialist. Mr. Khan asserted the importance of building a core business team whilst embarking on an entrepreneurial venture, “My top team took time to build. It was critical to find people who would aid my venture, who would take charge. Finding people you can rely on is half the battle won.”

Mr. Krishna Jha, Member-Indian Angel Network, took on from Mr. Khan stressing the importance of luck, getting it right, and discovering your entrepreneurial call. Facing rejection too, is of utmost importance in Jha's books. “When you're an entrepreneur, you have to face rejection. You get paid for the trauma, get paid for listening to people say: NO! This is what sets you apart from merely being an employee.”

Concluding a round of introductory speeches, Mr. Mahanta then opened up questions to the panel, starting with one on everybody's mind: Is this the right time to take on an entrepreneurial challenge? The panelist responded with an uproarious yes: “Irrespective of when the question is asked, the time is always now. Of course, it's important to have a cracker of an idea.”

Mr. Satya Bansal, CEO-India Barclays Wealth, advises that the financial downturn is the best time to test an idea. “The power of an idea gets tested in tough markets, allowing it to then thrive when markets open up.” Mr. Vipul Mankad, President-SIDBI Limited, pointed at two parameters for adjudging a business idea- customer acceptance and profitability. And Mr. Bharat Banka, CEO-Aditya Birla Private Equity, stressed how it was important to determine if you wanted a large share of a small pie, or a smaller share of a larger pie.

The discussion then moved to discovering the entrepreneur within you. The panelist believed this was critical to attracting venture capitalists. It's also critical to test yourself, minus the pretensions and to allow for flexibility whilst continually keeping your eye on the goal post. “There's a difference between being passionate and obstinate!” the panelist pointed out. Mr. Mankad too, addressed the importance of staying focused. “Be resilient, and quickly adapt to changing environments,” was his mantra.

The final question to the panelists addressed the importance of adapting to Indian markets. While there was nothing wrong in being inspired by Western counterparts, the panelist believed it was critical to adapt suitably to India's distinct needs and mannerisms. Lastly, entrepreneurial aspirants are adjudged largely basis soft skills, the process is also emotional as much as logical. This, the panelist believed, was important for aspirants to understand.

This message was brought out successfully in Mr. Krishnan's speech. The founder of start-up Quench, an Online Library, Krishnan spoke of his journey from the pitch stage to finally attracting venture capitalists. “Nothing quite prepares you for the challenges to come when you convert a great idea to its scalable form,” said Krishnan. He spoke of the passion, the emotion whilst emphasizing the need to remain objective especially when taking in distilled wisdom from varied sources. “The process was rigorous, as it was painful and yet the process helped us to evolve and crystallize our own thoughts into a realized entrepreneurial dream. Conserving cash was a handy decision.”

1 comment:

  1. Actually , every business plan competition , or presentation , like power of ideas , the eureka , the intaglio , the IIPC , everywhere you go , one thing is common dont expect to be funded , if you are an innovative company , then there is a very few , or 0% chances of getting funded , because the Indian Investors , the Venture Capitalists , the Angel Investors are not the ones those who exist in Silicon Valley and those who have funded companies like Microsoft , Google etc.
    The good thing about this contest is they are trying to create a similar kind of ecosystem which exists in US , Europe , but until and unless as VC firms come forward to address the real issues of Indian Entrepreneurs , nothing is possible here ….
    I had attended a numerous business plan contests in India , for hellodoctor , one thing I got from that is some certificates , some feel good discussions, some networking but its of no use to me presently , no serious investors , investors talking about millions of dollar investment but buddy we are a start up we dont need this , the real issues what an Indian Entrepreneur is facing is not addressed , the same way you have to fignt , you have to get self funded , take calculated risk , like that
    One thing I will like to say that these Bplan Competition can sharpen your brains , make your business plan papers more effective , but for startup forget anything from these competitions , you have to depend on your own resources , own will , you have to fight the monsters inside your brain , and outside too … If you want to be an entrepreneur take the first calculated risk first , you are not a millionaire , you are there to make millions … If you dont have confidence on your own plan , and you are thinking If you are putting your own hard earned money then forget to get any investors ..

    Dr.Smrutiranjan Patanaik
    COO - hellodoctor24×7