Saturday, September 12, 2009

To dream is human, to do is entrepreneurship! (updated with new links)

(in this post, I thought I will use both British and American spellings of Entrepreneurship as I wished, but my readers have convinced me otherwise!)

So the big day arrived finally! For two weeks now, the entire system was gearing up to host the National Entrepreneurship Summit 2009, at PROTON Indore campus.

The entire event was being managed by a team of Faculty mentors, alongwith students of PGP2 (specialisation - Entrepreneurship & FMB), and members of the Entrepreneurship Committee.

And what a day it was! At a personal level, listening to five successful entrepreneur CEOs in a span of 6 hours was enlightening, entertaining, eye-opening and electrifying.

Here are my learnings from this Summit
  1. Entrepreneurs are lonely people. It's always lonely at the top.*
  2. When you are just getting started, it'll be nothing but business, business, business on your agenda. There is no scope for anything else. It's a matter of sheer survival, not any choice.
  3. A lot of them are not going to make it (through the startup stage). It's too nasty, brutal, and short!
  4. Money is a bad thing. It helps speed up the rate at which founding teams start to break up, unless wisdom prevails.**
  5. Scaling up is quite a different matter, as compared to getting started. The rules change quite dramatically.
  6. Ceding control in right measure at the right time is important, if you wish to grow up.***
  7. Understanding what kind of financiers to align with is a life and death situation for many enterpreneurs. The fit has to be right.
  8. Vishal Gondal (Indiagames) shared he knew little of the snappy financial terms that VCs would throw around, when he was a startup kid. He trusted his instincts always, and they've never failed him.
  9. Prakash Mundhra (Sacred Moments) revealed that participating in business-plan competition at b-schools is a great way of getting started on the road to being an enterpreneur.
  10. A common thread across all five CEOs' thought - you really need to hear the call from within you. If you don't, you are not meant for it.
  11. Vivek Bhargava (Communicate2) shared that the cost of acquiring an extra customer is always nothing compared to the direct addition the acquisition will make to the bottomline. Hence advertise more.****
  12. Sasha Mirchandani (BRV and Mumbai Angels) spoke about the VC's need to grow the X to 10X quickly, and exit. So offer them a plan that sounds plausible enough to be able to do this. Sasha also fondly shared the memories of one of the great Indian minds (who recently passed away) who was a mentor to Google founders.
  13. A beautiful pearl of wisdom : "the joy of creating wealth always exceeds the joy of having the wealth."
  14. Another : "the best thing that a government can do for enterprise building in this nation is to stay away from trying to help it!"
  15. Every enterprise will face a death-like situation at least once. It could be the result of sheer audacity, misguided enthusiasm, wrong investments or plain bad luck. Those who survive this stage, emerge much stronger.
  16. Holding on to your field force for a long duration is a really good idea. It inspires trust in your customers' minds.
  17. An interesting idea that popped up : Pooja kits for education sector^
  18. Good questions always create a good impression.
  19. The five CEOs were unanimous in this^^ - "the use of technology (at PROTON) to leverage such events is commendable. Even in corporates, one does not find such uses of technology"
  20. Smart and successful entrepreneurs are invariably EXCELLENT COMMUNICATORS^^^. It is such a pleasure to listen them speak. Such a pleasure!
  21. One of them was surprised to see all students neatly dressed in corporate suits. I made it a point to clarify that usually Saturdays are informal T-shirt days, but this being such a big summit, we didn't want to take a chance :-)
So, an amazing day, with five amazing people. An excellent experience, even for an old-hand at enterprise-building like myself. At times I wonder, how lovely life is when one is willing to listen to others, to share their experiences, and to try and validate one's own against that backdrop.

Remember my habit of validation?^^^^ I asked them what they liked the most.

The feedback from the CEOs was
  • We are surprised to see the number and quality of questions being asked^^^^^. This is a very healthy sign 
  • We visit many B-schools regularly. PROTON is unique. Many others have huge campuses, but andar se khokha hote hain. The tastefulness and world-class standard of PROTON's ambience is unexpected and very pleasantly surprising
  • The enthusiasm of students is very high. This is a strong differentiator
  • The stress on values is interesting. This should really help in the long run
  • Sasha said : "I am a very active & impatient kind of a person, and cannot sit still for more than an hour! I have spent the whole day at PROTON happily, enjoying every moment here!"
Jai ho!

Today's news
Check what the Hindustan Times says about this event. Click here
Check what the Dainik Bhaskar says about this event. Click here
Check what the Naidunia says about this event. Click here
CEO speak
Testimonaials! CEOs speak on their experience at PROTON. Click here!
Web Report
Detailed documented report of this event is here! Click to read
Lots of photographs can be viewed here!

*irrespective of the organisation's size, be it 1, 10 or 10,000 crores. There are things that the top guy (the enterpreneur CEO) just cannot discuss with anyone. This probably explains the success of "Enterpreneur Only" type of societies
** that is, grow beyond a successful start-up stage. The first stage is the romantic one. it gets serious beyond that, and one needs to understand that the game will change
*** I have personally seen partners (educated, MBA-degree holders from some of the best B-schools) become sworn enemies the moment the business (that they founded together as a team) starts generating good revenues. The camaraderie of the founding days evaporates overnight. Such incidences leave me wondering - what is education teaching these guys?
**** example of the travel industry, and a hotel room going empty comes in handy while discussing this point
^ exams... tense kids... tense parents... got it?
^^ at PROTON, I have personally driven the installation of video-conferencing technology and live streaming kits, so that what we do at any one campus can be transmitted live to any other number of campuses (thereby multiplying the learning effect)
^^^ I advise all young managers - work very very hard to improve your communication skills. It is the single biggest differentiator in today's world. All your talent may lie undiscovered and untapped if the world can't see it - and communicating beautifully is the way to make the world see it.
^^^^ to understand more of "validation", see my blogpost
^^^^^ this means that at many b-schools, the level of participation in such programmes from the students' side can be improved significantly. Does this reflect inherent pedagogical limitations? Have the students been trained into being inquisitive always? I personally feel we have won a big battle as our students ASK a lot of intelligent questions always. Good, good. Asking questions is the most difficult thing to do. You need to know a lot to be able to ask sensible and intelligent questions, that go beyond the "pedantic" and "demonstrative" to being genuinely inquisitive


sanjay said...

Hi Sir, great post! The things you shared regarding entrepreneurship are of very high value.

Anusha said...

hi sir! great post! these 20 points are the jist of the entire days event.thanks for sharing your learning.

Chetan Choparia said...

Respected Sir,

The Summit was really a excellent experience for all of us.
Our speakers share their thoughts and learning with us. The way, they develop was just great.
I am really inspired by them, mainly by Mr. Prakash Mundra, that how a idea of "Pooja Kit" can turn to such a big success. It reminds me your teaching, in one of your blog that "its all about an idea that makes all difference".The idea about, 15 gm ghee sachet!,wonderful no one can think about it.The idea of "Coke and Pepsi" game was also a great one.

Sir, I want to know , what if you are not doing well still by giving efforts?
How to identify bootstraps?

Thank You,

Proton Chetan Choparia
Fall 09

ankit sharma said...

Respected Sir,
Thanks for giving revising lession about yesterdays event.
the learning which i got from NES is
"You need not to be rich in order to start, but you need to start in order to become rich".

Thank you,
Proton Ankit Sharma
Indore campus

Anurag Khandekar said...

Respected Sir,
The NEN summit was one of the most memorable experience i ever had in my life. Every thing was so engrossing that other matters seemed to be trivial.The video conferencing session by Hitesh Sir was one of its own kind, I would like to term it as electrifying. Sir, my question is that the entrepreneurs face high levels of stress and fatigue because they are at the top of the hierarchy of their enterprise, so despite loving their work they become a victim to stress, So are there any solid steps to wade off stress from your system. As you recently mentioned in your Economist session that the stress levels are so high that you face stress of 40 years while you are in your mid twenties. I would also like to thank you Sir for providing such an aureate platform for us to imbibe some values in our system.

Anurag Khandekar
Fall'09 Carnegie Hall

Kapeesh Vyas said...

Respected Sir,
Congratulations for the success of the mega event we had in our college.It was a day to be remembered in my life.Listening to the towering personalities was a great experience.
The insights that you provided would be helpful at the time when i would be entering in the corporate world.And lastly the speakers that we had were versatile and i had learnings from each one of them.

Test said...

Sanjay, Anusha, Chetan, Ankit, Anurag, Kapeesh - thanks for reading.

Indeed, Prakash is an inspiring figure. He'll surely go places.

The quote is brilliant. You really need to start to get rich. And if you are primed properly (with ideas, attitude and humility) before you start, the probability of getting rich drastically improves.

To handle stress, the best tool is *HUMOUR*. Learn to laugh, in and at every difficult situation. Learn to see the big picture, and have a reasonable maturity level to handle awkward situations.

Gaurav Bajaj said...

Respected Sir,
First of all congratulations for success of such a great event. This event was a great experience with lot of learnings for us and such events on regular basis might change the way the students think.
Those seven strategic decision which you discussed, though sound simple but were very great which forced us to think about our life, our behavior, why we are like this, how should we improve, what are the controlled and uncontrolled decisions which have a great impact on our life and how to make best use of what is left in our hand.
Thank you for sharing with us such great thoughts and we believe that such learnings on regular basis will definitely help us to think and make our life better.
Thanking You
Proton Gaurav Bajaj

Unknown said...

Respected Sir,
Congratulations for the success of yesterday's summit. It was a great experince for me. I have learn many things from this summit but two of the learnings are
1. Always grab the opportunity when ever you get and,
2. Its all about an idea that makes all difference.

One more thing which i have learnt from yesterday's experience when i went to airport to welcome the speakers was that how take decisions on last moment changes.

Thanks a lot sir for giving us such a great experience.

Charchit Nema
Fall '09 Carnegie Hall

shraddha said...

Respected Sir,
I want to felicitate you and all the Protons on the great success of yesterdays event.Also I want to thank you for organising such an event.
It was a day full of tremendous learnings,enthusiasm and positive change as well.
Day of great learning.
Proton Shraddha

pratik said...

Respected sir,
first of all Congratulations for the success of enterpreneurship summit.

All the speakers were fabulous, listening to them was great source of motivation, not only listening to them sir even when i listen to you there is a inner voice from inside it is the time to do something in life.

I am really thankful to you sir, because proton has really changed my life.

Proton Prateek gupta
Kanter hall

Akash Paliwal said...

Respected sir,
Before this summit I had one question in my mind because of which I was in dilemma & the question was "Entrepreneur is the one who flies alone, who soars alone & who hunts alone". How true it is?
And finally i got my answer.
Sir, thanks for providing us such a good opportunity.
Congratulations for the successful event.

Bhargavi said...

Respected sir,

Thank you for giving such a great, enlighting and eye-opening event at proton. The learning from your side shows the great detailed observation skill of yours.

Sir, your point about the question asking is very true. One can not ask the question without having knowledge about it.The same has happened with me. I have lots of doubt about communicate 2 but couldn't be solved.
Would you please help me to understand the concept of "search marketing". I have also visited the site of "communicate 2".The question arose in mind was: If it is to do marketing on search engine then Google will be direct competitor to communicate 2? then how is it possible to survive n grow for a start up against the giant like Google.

Proton Bhargavi Dholakia
Proton Business School.

Ankesh said...

Dear Sir,
As usual, it was an awesome article! I wish I could have attended that seminar.

Really appreciate and wondering, how you must be stealing time from your busy schedule to write an article 'daily'.

Warm regards,
Ankesh Mehra
Ex-PT Student
2004-05 batch

Test said...

Thanks Gaurav, Shraddha, Prateek, Bhargavi, Charchit, Akash, Ankesh for reading and commenting!

It seems we are all positive motivating factors for each other. The more we interact, the more we learn. Do keep writing your suggestions, questions, criticisms.

Vidit Shah said...

Dear Sir,
It was a great experience for the whole day. The time spent with the speakers, while escorting them to the guest room made me realize that the top members are also down to earth, jolly and fun loving.
We got the summary of the whole summit in just 20 points to revise the expert comments is an added advantage.
Thank you Sir, the event was a great success and we had a lot of learnings from this summit.

The most important point, thanks for making us arrange the whole summit and allowing us to have a practical exposure of how to organize an event.

Vidit Shah

Aditee Sathe said...

Dear Sir,

Great post!
Congratulations!The NEN summit was a huge success.It was a mind altering day that made me cognise about how to transform ourselves from being mere dreamers to successful enterpreneurs.
Also,the learnings written in the post opened some more learnings for me.

Proton Aditee Sathe
Fall 09,Sen Hall

Priyanka Bagadia said...

Hello Sir,
Great post!! After reading this post all the learnings from the session are revised.
My perspective towards entrepreneursip is very broad now and the point you shared about entrepreneuralism was very thought provoking.

It is actualy so very important to have an entrepreneurial mindset while we do any work, even as an employee. If we can take the ownership of our part of work, hen the job is done!!

The session was great.
Congratulations for the success of the event.


Test said...

Aditi, Priyanka - great that you enjoyed the Summit, and the blogpost! Honestly, I enjoyed more than anyone else. What lovely speakers, what style, what experience.. wow!

Unknown said...

Respected Sir,
Thanks for organizing such an event for us, it was very helpful & it enlighten us with lots of insights of which we were unaware. The seven strategic decision of life were also very inspiring & the learning's from this summit were very good & will help us in the path of life ahead.

Thanks once again.
Proton Richa Bajaj

Vivek Bhargava said...

Comment for Bhargavi Dholakia

hi Bhargavi,

google is hardly 10 years old, so it just took a company 10 years to become the de-facto standard of search, that is the joy of living in these times, one can set up a small company - compete with the biggest and win!! look at recent example of facebook, twitter, youtube beating companies that were 1000 times their size.

Having said that Communicate 2 does not compete with Google, probably i am not that brave :). Think of communicate 2 as an advertising agency. Imagine Google is the stock market of Media, advertisers want to buy advertising, they need someone who can help them buy the media most effectively - Communicate 2 is that entity that has the expertise to help companies buy media effectively - aim to become lehman Bros, OOOOPs, on second thoughts, aim is to become Goldman Sachs

hope the above clarifies your doubts on the business model of Communicate 2. Example - Proton needs to accquire students, we as communicate 2 could help Proton acquire students most effectively using Google network as a platform

Chetan Jaiman said...

Hello sir,
I am chetan jaiman student of PT education(alwar). Sir today a have attended the first Add pro session and it was so worthy that all my colleges related quarries were settled. Sir, i have an issue on which i want to discuss actually its a kind of uncertainty and am sure that you can really help me in that. Sir actually i am in a process of writing a book(fiction) so i have to invest some part of my time regularly on it but at the same time thoughts like 'rejection' , 'what if all the publication denied', dominates me so much that i get frustrated. Its my first time both for the book & the CAT. Sir, looking at your profile i found that fiction is not your cup of tea but i will try to live up to your belief & you certainly help me out in final process.

Vivek Bhargava said...

i love reading fiction - currently reading the symbol by dan brown.

one cannot succeed without hundreds of rejections - so dont worry about rejection.

do you have a blog ? the key is first start writing, writing anything regularly - every day 1 hour a day - writing a book is the next step.

i recommend keep one focus and achieve it, rather than focusing on a book and CAT at the same time, else one becomes an escape for not achieveing the other :)


p.s. please write to me on

Anonymous said...

The summit was really very good

Unknown said...

the bright side of being entrepreneur is you have get leverage to follow your instincts however very clearly you have pointed out the harsh reality that one has to go through this road like loneliness and disappointments and crystal clear focus on your aim to be successful and lady luck plays little role.
jai ho!

Unknown said...


Today i attended the 1st lecture of KB 2015-16 and read the blog, related Startup.

Many people around us are hopeless, but these people (Entrepreneur) always has an idea handle this kind of situation.

Thanks once again......

Amit Tiwari