Friday, August 1, 2008

The start up dreams....

Its my first posting to this league of extraordinary bloggers, though i remember joining it ages ago. I know what you are thinking, "why the hell does this guy have to write one now". Can't blame you guys for that, its all my fault...

What i'm gonna tell you today is about a dream hidden somewhere in the depths of our conscious or subconscious minds of one one day sitting in a pretty CEO cabin of a successful company that you have brought up. I have seen quite a lot of people in my short professional life, who have taken the bold decision of going after this golden dreams. It feels so sad to say that out of them, only one has seen success and that too in a big way. The rest have perished into the cruel wilderness of reality....

What i had been doing all this time was to study their cases and figure out what went wrong. May be one day when i'm at the juncture of spending my money to chase my dream, these experiences are going to come pretty handy. I just wanted to jot down a few points that had been crossing my minds over this.

First let me jot down about the most recent story i heard, its about VJ, my project mate in Trilogy where i have learned quite a lot about how to build a company to last, how to change your business model with times, how to stand up from glaring falls and not just walk, but run. Few months back when i was working VJ, late nights in office were pretty common(thats truly a trademark of trilogy). With nightouts come the pain of ordering food at office, which is such a common thing in our "hard working" IT industry. This certainly struck an idea in his mind...why not we have a food ordering software, why always call up these guys and place your order. The idea was to develop something and sell it across the multiple food chains out there, something that can fetch you money from not just one client. I dont know to call what he did after this foolish or brave, but he just went out there, took an office place on rent, got systems, recruited few ppl and just started a team working on this. Idea was to have income inputs through works on small assignments from abroad along with their main goal. But things neednt always go according to plans, his sources of income started to dry up like our rivers in summer. He started taking loans to keep his business running, mounting credit card bills, debts and over everything his project plan overshoots itself. He went on until his electricity connection got disconnected! On the whole, it cost him 6 lakhs, every penny of his savings (being a 23 yr old, you cant expect much savings)and so much debt left to clear off. My first response to his story was "wow, what an experience man!!!". So easy to spit out those words...rite. What he has gone through surely requires a lot of courage and will. People say he learned a big lesson from that experience. True, i would also say that to him, but only to console. In my opinion he was brave, but a lot more foolish. He went after his heart, never thinking of the need to consult his mind. At times such reckless things might prove a great success story, but in probability terms, your chances are way below even 0.05. Also, keep in mind that this guy kept working in trilogy all along this. You can catch his story here.

Lets view a success story on the other hand. We had a tall mate who joined alongside in Trilogy, for the great TU2K5 (Its the Trilogy university, which i would rate among one of the toughest induction programs that ever existed in our industry). Working our asses out, 24 hours for 3 months we were all working on businesses of our own. The whole theme of our TU batch was to bring business from e commerce in months.a business worth persisting and valued not below 10 million in the long run. That was our first taste of what it takes to start a company (luckily it was at Joe's expense ) I still rate those three months as my most memorable, productive period in my professional life. Now coming to the story, the hero's name is Vishnu. While we were all working all the night he made it a point that after 1'O clock in the night, he made it a point that he spent sometime towards his personal projects. He built a simple elegant GPS navigation system, and believe me this was in 2005 and one of the first attempts at this. He soon realizes the potential of his creation (lots of things like puttting it up for sale must have contributed to it). Now he is the founder of Inter Chain solutions , an international company.

Both of them had great ideas, which had the potential of bringing success, but do you see any gaping differences in what the two of them did? I did notice a few and let me list them down,
1) One had a prototype before starting off, the other just an idea.
2) One believed in his product making a company for him, the other build a company for his conceptual product.
3) One believed in owning an office, recruiting people to get the feel of owning a company. While the other made it sure that its his product that dictates the terms.
4)Once he had a prototype and wanted to pursue his dreams, Vishnu resigned and devoted his full time towards his dream, while the other wasnt confident enough to leave his job for his dream.

There a lot more when you consider the finer details of the stories which i havent mentioned here. But still, the first mistake someone will ever make in starting a company is glaringly evident here. Believe in your idea, build a prototype, get people to believe in your idea and then think about renting out an office or actual "building of the company". These are expenses that are too much for just building a prototype. Work with your personal laptops, in your apartment until you come up with something solid. Second, dont just go after your heart(i know many of you'll disagree), do give your brain a little bit respect. It not your heart that talks business, its your money that does it, but sure you need a strong will and passion for it.