Entrepreneurship is mainstream now. Folks do jump in with or without doing homework. No amount of preparation is enough in this dynamic market environment and social media driven rat race culture though. I am sure there are many people who believe it was their destiny and it was in their blood. I am one of them.
God helps you at every step. One good thing leads to another. I got small projects when I dedicated full time to this journey. These small projects cater towards building the product that I am building. Another very good thing that occurred to me is https://ikenstartup.com. I joined with the expectations of mentorship, meeting other visionaries, fighters, people with dreams in their eyes. and guess what !!
I did get and do get tons of mentorship at iken. iken’s philosophy of ‘Bird in Hand’ – the bootstrapping way really made sense to me. New and budding entrepreneurs are not mature enough to go for game that VCs play. but why spend energy there instead of trying to get first client and a basic product that can fail or pass. Angel investors are ready to invest in my case but I am more focused on getting angel customers. I was under the impression that I don’t have a good network. iken anchors insisted that I must make a list. I did and found out that situation is not bad at all. I was hesitant in asking for help from my network but response from network was amazing. Response does come good when you ‘the entrepreneur’ displays strong belief in path chosen.
iken also advocates ‘ask’ framework. This framework consists of an organised approach to train you on negotiating and asking for help from others. I started connecting with tons of people using the Ask framework. Made good use of LinkedIn also. Talked to people from all walks of life. It is not easy for an introvert but not a problem for me. In fact, I enjoy this part a lot. How do you convince the other person to believe in your dream? How do you know what his/her ask is. It comes with practice. What favor or help do you need from the person who has agreed to listen to you? Are you asking for mentorship, connections, funding, cofounder role or to be the angel customer? I started looking for friends who can take me to their companies and work for me as ‘champion’ there and I was able to find some helping hands.
Entrepreneurship is a gamble I realized. we all have a limited capacity to play this gamble. ‘Affordable Risk’ might be a better word here that we use at iken. That’s one of the first thing that iken Anchors insist that we do give a good time to figure out. Affordable risk might change when you see your family is there depending on you. Answer to affordable risk’ varies with time. Getting the first customer definitely gives you stronger legs. It helps you convince your family to increase affordable risk limits. Involve your family in these discussion to determine affordable risk limits.
Key to success in this game is networking with your connections (bird in hand approach), asking them for the right things (using the ask framework). Relations you made in your corporate career would come handy. Use your relations every day. I am focused on US market but potential customers want use case to be India market oriented. I embraced the change. I assumed that my list of use cases does not fit BFSI domain but I was surprised there also. Gradually, it became an idea founded by me and enhanced by others. iken defines this evolution of idea as ‘Crazy Quilt.
There are critical decisions to be made every day. Every one of those decisions have the potential to affect your business in long term in a positive or negative way. These decisions give me the thrill, sleepless nights and sleepy days (because I did not sleep at night).
All I can say to myself and others is – Enjoy the ride, my friend!!
Vinay Mehendiratta, PhD; Founded OceanFrogs in December, 2016. Vinay is on a mission to consolidate and analyze information for public and private organizations that can be useful for business development folks. This platform would generate business insights on organizations and industry. Vinay has 15 years of experience in analytics and optimization. He has spent time in railroads, mining, oil and gas industry in US and India.