BEFORE starting a Business, Listen to this! | Mahavir Sharma | TBCY

BEFORE starting a Business, Listen to this! | Mahavir Sharma | TBCY

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Welcome to another episode of The Brand Called  You. A vodcast and podcast show that brings you   leadership lessons, knowledge, experience and  wisdom from hundreds of successful individuals   from around the world. I'm your host, Ashutosh  Garg and today I'm delighted and privileged to   welcome a very, very senior entrepreneur and  leader from India, Mr. Mahavir Sharma. Mahavir, welcome   to the show. Thank you, Ashutosh, pleasure.  Mahavir is the past chairman of the TiE global Board of Trustees. TiE for those of you  who don't know is the Indus entrepreneurs.   He is the past chairman of the carpet Export  Council. He is the chairman of the Rajasthan Angel  

innovators network. He's an angel investor. He's  a leadership mentor. And amongst all these things,   he's a very successful businessman doing business  of carpet, jewelry, in marketing and branding. Amazing journey, you've had, Mahavir so  far. So I thought today we will speak  

about TiE and startups. Absolutely. So let's  start with TiE, as the global Chair of TiE, what have been the activities of  TiE and what has been your role? So you know, TiE, as you know, is almost 30 years  old as we speak today. It's been a long journey,   promoting entrepreneurship, growing, as we did  gradually across different continents in different   chapters, in different cities. I think, you  know, over the last

six years that I was on the board before I  became the vice chair. In my seventh year in   the chair in the eighth year, I realized that  TiE is doing so much across various ecosystems,   from schools, to colleges, to women, of late  2019. And there was not much noise or much   impact or people didn't realize the  value of the brand that we had. So I   quickly thought that we have to establish certain  parameters, certain brand expectations, certain   deliverables. And that can only happen if  you work in partnership with various

governments, work in partnership with various like  minded organizations. And that's where I think   the visibility of TiE and the outreach of TiE was  very, very important. And so we started to reach   out to many people, we created bridges between  state governments in India and state governments   in the US and national governments. And we  tried to create the fact that entrepreneurship,   technology, startup and angel investment are  synonymous with TiE. And if there's  

anyone who can mentor someone on entrepreneurship,  or on tech, or then help angel invest, it's   has to be TiE. So that journey or that  thing is what we tried to started to create,   which is continuing in the last two, three years,  even after I was done with the chairmanship. The   other thing we thought was that we give too much  of mentoring, we give too much gyaan, we give too   much of emphasis on networking, you know, these  are all byproducts, these will always happen,   we need to put our money where our mouths are,  so we need to invest. And we need to be the   first cheque writers to startups or teams or co  founders who have potential to grow, whether the   idea today might pivot, whether the idea tomorrow  might grow, whether they might change their idea   and start a new startup. But the fact that we have  to help them at an early stage and an idea stage   and help incubators and accelerators that  the government of India has put across   the country, we need to be relevant at  the bottom of the pyramid and C. K. Prahalad

which is house of TiE has always been at  the bottom of the pyramid whether it's micro small, medium enterprises,  entrepreneurship, creating jobs or so,   that's where I think we started a very robust  angel program. I think US angel program and the   Indian angel program and I continue to lead the  India initiative because it was started under my   leadership. And I think in the next two to three  years, you will see the TiE will be probably, you   know, co investor, if not the full investor  in early stage idea stage companies in India,   because we have a huge potential of 13,000 people  who can invest and we are democratic. We can be local mentors to these startups  across the world, we can help them reach out   to the world market. So I think those are the few  things that I always thought of and we started off  

during my tenure, which continued to grow and  are continuing to help TiE grow as we see it. So you know, I  see the activity of TiE because I've been a   charter member, haven't given back as much  as you have. But you know, and   we'll have hundreds and hundreds of startup  entrepreneurs listening to our conversation. What is the advantage other than what you've just   outlined in terms of knowledge and money for a  young startup entrepreneur, or anyone to join TiE?   I'll tell you inspirational stories. I mean,  I from a traditional business of   handicrafts, carpets and jewelry to become an  angel investor to know more of tech, to being   part of this thing is just because I was inspired  by so many people from Silicon Valley to Delhi,   and their success ratios, their impact on the society, their impact on revenue,   their impact on employment was immense and huge.  And I said this 20-10-15% growth year over year   is not the way to go, acknowledges the future. So  I think, you know, be surrounded by good people,  

surrounded by better people, listening to  their inspirational stories, and talking to them,   becoming part of their lives and  taking them along in your journey,   in itself is a great achievement. I think  positive, encouraging, growth oriented,   technology driven environment is not easy  to find. And I think that in itself,   whether you get funded or not, whether  you get mentored or not, that, in itself   is a change that society needs. We don't need to  be graded by the grades that we get, we don't need   to be graded by the city that we live in, we don't  need to be graded by the language that we speak,   I think it is the inner ability to be confident,  successful, and take people along with you. I   think that's the positivity that I bring. And I  think that's something that we or the youngsters   who don't, I mean, who are not the toppers  definitely need that. And that you know, is 90%  

of all of us, I mean, I was never a topper  in school, but I was you know, above average,   but average, you really need to have to you  know, grow from there. So, these stories,   these inspirational journeys are something  that you will get one, you know, 10,000 amongst   various chapters, various ecosystems, various  events, online or offline. Fascinating.   So, another question that I wanted to check with  you was the TiE is a global organization, for   someone in say, the Delhi chapter, how easy is it  for them to access someone in another country? Not easy. Obviously, successful people are  very busy people, and they are inundated by  

people reaching out to them. And everyone  is not as responsive as you and I could be.   Because, you know, responsibility and  responsiveness are not synonymous with everyone.   But it's not that you will on either  one or event one or day one you will be able to   access, it's a process. I've always  realized that whether it's relationship,  

no matter what relationship, or whether it's an organization, you get as much as you give,   if you give your time, if you  give you energy, if you volunteer,   if you work with other people. And if you're  willing to help people who are below you,   you will be recognized, you will be supported,  you will be known. And you will be able to reach   out to anyone sitting in Silicon Valley. But it  doesn't happen in one day, one month, one year.   It is a process. And it takes time. And I'm living  example. I mean, I was a very non participative   reluctant charter member for the first seven  years. And suddenly, you know, for the lack of   being a better choice, I was made the president of  Rajasthan. And luckily for me, the global retreat  

happened in Jaipur that year. And suddenly, I  realized that all that four or five months of hard   work to deliver the best retreat ever, got me into  not only recognition, but talking to people across   the globe, and also the fact that Jaipur, you know, since 2009, grew up as a startup   ecosystem. And so everything collectively fell in  place. Everyone worked very hard, collectively.   And we have an ecosystem in Jaipur. That's in the  top 10 in India. And I think, that initiative,   that encouragement, that opportunity that I  got, would not have happened, it took seven   years. So you don't know. And because I decided  to give back that year. And I decided to do something  

without expecting anything. And I think we as a team delivered a great event participants   attendance, the government of Rajasthan at that  time, everything fell in place. And I think   it's positive energy invites positive growth.  And I think that's what happened. And since then,   I've never looked back. I mean, I was you know,  and that's what I feel. The more you give,  

the more you get. Fantastic. And that's an amazing  mantra, I think any organization, which has   members, the more you give in it, the more you  get back. Fantastic. So now let's talk a   little bit about your next Avatar, which is as a  startup entrepreneur and as an angel investor. Let me start by asking, you know, and as someone  who has led TiE, a very common question that a   lot of startup entrepreneurs have is should I go solo, or should I have a co founder?   What is your view? Oh, definitely not solo. Startups and entrepreneurs journey is very tough.  

It's very competitive. Having people alongside  you, people who are equal or better than you,   as co founders will always help, I think going  solo is a very, very rare thing that I would do,   I would need a team, I would not go solo. Okay. And there is also, you know, lots of   statistics thrown around that one, only one out  of 10 startups make it. I'd love to get your   perspective, the what, in your opinion, are some  of the major reasons, startups don't make it? Oh, you know, multiple reasons. I mean, of course,  even if you have a great idea, and a great team,   sometimes you don't realize the competition that  there is, and people only see competition as   direct competition, or they think that they are  innovative, or they can sell something for free,   or give something for free. And sometimes  there's so much of indirect competition,  

sometimes, and you don't realize that and that's  a lot of that takes away all your effort that   you have done, you've created a product or  a service. And it   can be a byproduct for someone else. And then  the Googles and Facebooks, and Amazons of the   world will just eat you alive, because you've  given something that they can do free, because   they have revenues coming from everywhere. So I  think that's one reason why they don't realize  

that they don't realize is in great competition  for many, many people, number one. Number two,   the lack of mentoring or lack of vision to pivot  when they need to pivot or evolve. And you know,   evolution is natural. And if you static in your product or service, if you're static in not improving what you're doing, I think  people have lacked and they became complacent,   and then they you know, slowly died or slowed  down. So I think that's the other thing.   I think innovation and pivoting and mentoring is  very critical. Lastly, I feel that many times topline, bottom line, growth, and fundraising are  challenging things to answer. So while

some investors say I need a top line, I don't care  about how much you burn. Some people will say that   hey boss, you never know if you  will be able to raise the money next round or not,   whether it'll be 18 months or 24 months, you need  to make sure that you're unit economic positive,   your operations are positive, cashflow  positive, you don't start to burn and lose the   money unless you raise the next round of  fun. So there's conflict and everything   in one shoe doesn't fit all. The  problem is that some sectors need top line,   some sectors need bottom line, some sectors need  both. And the next round of funding is very,  

very critical for them to survive either ways, and  so many good ideas, many great ideas, many teams   die because they're not able to raise money at the  right time. And that's unfortunate. And then COVID   has done some damage to some startups. And  some startups die on their own. Because you know,   it's very tough and competitive to convince  every angel investor or VC or a B fund. So it's   a challenge. And I think it's a journey that is  marred, full of not internal lack of competence,  

but external forces, which are beyond the control  of startups, and I don't blame these kids.    But so long as you've learned something,  you've organized something and you know the reason why you were not able to raise the  next round of money. That in itself is a great   learning and worth a lot of money than the money  that you would have raised. So your response  

on money gives me the segue to my next question,  which is again, a million dollar question.   A lot of startup entrepreneurs want to hear and  you're as probably one of the best people to ask,   should one bootstrap as long as possible or  should one raise money as soon as one gets it? I think bootstrapping is the best thing to do. But   outside validation, even for a small equity is not  a bad idea. Because there is a Hindi   saying, you know, Ghar Ki Murgi Dal Barabar, you know, all these things are very, very   relevant. You have to go outside of your city or  your comfort zone and say, this is what I'm doing.  

Would you invest in this and I think  it's important, but bootstrapping, nothing like   bootstrapping, nothing like growing organically.  But you should know when you're ready to swing into a much faster higher ground.  And that's when you should raise money,   but bootstrap as long as you can. And the  most important thing which people don't realize,   continue to think like a bootstrap  startup, even after you raise your money.   If you start to splurge money and get swayed  by on acquiring companies backward integration,   forward integration, or cost of customer  acquisition decision going up because you're under pressure, it doesn't work.  Think like an entrepreneur, think like   a bootstrap company. There are plenty  of people investors, investing. But there is a lot  

at stake when you have to raise the next round  of money. So it's very, very important that you   continue to think like a bootstrap company. My next question to you is that,   at what stage should a start up start to scale  up? Because again, the big question that everyone   seems to talk about is PAN India, global. And I  keep saying, but if you're in the National Capital   Region, you've got 24 million people to get to. So it depends on the sector to   sector. It depends from city to city that you're  in. It depends on who your competition is, and how   much money have you raised. So all these  three factors being same. If we were all in  

New Delhi-NCR, if we were all raised, we had  always saved money and had enough money to spend.   And if we were all in the services sector, I would  say that once you have, I have a dominant position   in Delhi NCR in that service, and you have been  validated by outside funding, and you're able to   raise the next round of funding to go to 10  other cities in India, I would scale up at   that point of time, that's when I would ramp up  because you have to have the backup plan,   you have to have funds in place and cashflow in  place for the next 18 to 24 months. And you should   be team ready-product ready to scale up.  I mean, unless you are ready to scale up with your   team and product, even if you have money,  don't do it. Wait because customers and consumers   have a very, very short span that they give  you, they only give you one opportunity,   they like your product, then they start using you  they don't like it, they never come back to you,   why?. And that's bad publicity. And as you  know very well, it takes 10 times effort to wipe   off a negative statement, then it takes to build  one. Absolutely. So time for a few more questions  

for you. And I'm going to shift now again  gears and talk to you as an angel investor. What do you look for, Mahavir before you  take a decision to make an investment? Oh, so many things. But of course, the team, as I said is most  critical, obviously, the product, the idea   are important. But the timing, you know,  sometimes I've seen products and services   that are not ready, people are not ready. We also look at validation from

the market. And people sometimes, startups or co  founders sometimes don't realize that when we say validation, it is not  validation from the customer that's buying it.   But validation from the supplier, because he's making money while he's selling on your platform   and his or your, you know, is that viable  for him to continue to do that? And the third most   important thing is that, are you making money? Or  are you just using a platform to take A to B   and not making money in between, it has to be  a win-win situation, every element has   to be a winner, and you have to check all the  boxes no matter who's paying you the revenue.   And similarly, if it's a B2B2C, then it has  to be four winners, if all the players   from the supplier to the end consumer and  no matter how many hands it's changing,   if everyone is not happy with the money that  they're making the product that they're getting,   it will not work. So it's very critical for  me to see will they sustain the test of time,   if this thing continues, or if the supplier  suddenly decides that I will not give the   product to him or the technology team  quits, will this be able to survive   the test of time and all those things are very,  very critical. And I think those things are very  

important. Obviously, you know, get into  valuation in unit economics, on cashflow, on   other things that are important because  valuation and the funds required, have to make sense, the numbers have to add  all the money that you require, it cannot be 8 to 10% of the equity, or valuation that you  10 times the valuation, all these things are very,   very important. So we do a lot of work. We listen  to them, we ask them all sorts of questions.   We even go to the extent of asking them what if  you're not able to raise the money that you're   trying to raise? What if it's a partial raise?  What are the answers going to be, are they ready to   deal with that situation? So all these things  are very, very critical and COVID in last two   years has made us, you know, we have to be COVID  proof, we have to be travel proof, we have to be   you know looking at markets to scale or to  grow without people with feet on ground.   All those things are very, very important. And then critical and add up to this. But   though it depends on product and service and the  sector that they are in, of course, patents, IPS,   you know, all that does add value. Colleges, education and work experience does add  

value. But it all has to add up. I mean, if there's one red mark, you're gone. I mean,   we won't invest that. If there's some red flag that  I see, it will not work, it will not work, because   irrespective of the nine good thing that you might  be doing, or might have, if there's one thing that   I feel will not work, which we as investors  would stay away from. It's a very, very   slow process. Very, very tough process. And we're  not gods, we could be wrong. So we've gone wrong, I have not invested in companies  that have done well. And I've invested in   companies that haven't done well. So basically,  it's perceptive, it's something that  

everyone thinks differently. So be persistent,  continue to grow your product and service,   and also reach out to as many right angels, as  you see fit. Well said. So my last question to   you now. And again, this is for the 1000s of  people who will listen to our conversation. As someone who's been there, done  that not just as an angel investor,   but also led the organization which is  supporting and mentoring so many investors,   what would your advice be to a young entrepreneur  starting off on her or his journey? I think my advice is to everyone, forget  if you're entrepreneur or not, keep learning.  

You know, at our age, Ashutosh I still  learn every day, I still read a lot, I still   try to question various things and get try and  get answers for them. So I think keep learning,   entrepreneurship, success, failure,  startup, one startup, two startup, 10    investor, investment, businesses, they're  all journey. They're all there. They're all   means to achieve better life, better goals, better  environment, better society, but they're not the   end. The end game is where so long as you continue  to evolve as a person, you continue to give back   to the society, to your employees, your family, to  your to everyone around you, life will move on and   you will continue to grow. And I think it should  be again, you know, a journey full of happiness,  

live every day of your life. Don't  wait to succeed, don't wait to have   an exit. Don't wait to have a series D or E. If you're not enjoying what you're doing,   it will become a drag. And you will wear out much  faster than you are, life is unpredictable. So   enjoy every single day, enjoy everything that you  do, and continue to give back. Because what goes   around comes back. Well said. What a fantastic  conversation. And on that note of keep learning.   Mahavir, thank you so much for speaking to me,  thank you for speaking to me at such length about   TiE and about the amazing things you did as the  global chair. It's such an amazing organization  

that I am also fortunate to belong to. And  it's leaders like you who make a difference   in the life of all TiE members. Thank you  for all the direction that you've given.   And thank you for talking to me in so much  detail about an entrepreneur and entrepreneurs   journey about the challenges and entrepreneur  faces and about your words of wisdom right   at the end of keeping to learn. Thank you again and good luck.   Thank you. It's a pleasure and an honor to  be on your channel. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for listening to The Brand Called You,  videocast and podcast. A platform that brings you  

knowledge, experience and wisdom of hundreds of  successful individuals from around the world.   Do visit our website, to   watch and listen to the stories of many more individuals. You can also follow us on YouTube,  Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Just   search for The Brand Called You

2022-04-16 05:23

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