Social, Startups

Worst Piece of Advice Indian Entrepreneurs Have Received

In the ongoing decade the success stories of Internet and technology companies in the country have motivated a large number of individuals to break the monotony and start up their own ventures. At the same time, the failed business models, shut downs, distress sales have brought into light the hardships and the challenges in having a structure that’s scalable and sustainable. Since a lot of entrepreneurs with low work experience are jumping onto the bandwagon, the need for good startup mentors and business advisors is at an all time high. And bad advice to these fast moving companies can be a cause for their pitfall, here is a list of some of the worst advice successful Indian entrepreneurs have received.

Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Founder & CEO, Paytm

“When I was raising series A investment, my angel investor was completely against taking any money from any VC or PE fund. He suggested  all potential horror situations that might happen. 

I am happy I did not adhere to that advise and raised money from SAIF Partners. In SAIF I found a true business partner who helped in every possible manner.”

Deep Kalra, Chairman & Group CEO, MakeMyTrip

Deep Kalra

“During the downturn of 2001-2002, several folks, including well meaning friends and very smart business folks, told me to ‘shut down and do something more sensible.’ 

Glad I did not listen to them, mainly due to my innate stubborn reason, and heard my inner voice instead.”

Prashant Tandon, MD & Co-Founder,

“‘Your management team is young – while it is great they have been there from the beginning, now that the concept is proven the first thing you need to do is to hire industry experienced professionals across the board that know how to scale to IPO’

Why I consider this an absurd and irrelevant advice is that it just discounts the key impact of entrepreneurial energy, culture and unwavering commitment. And also the fact that the industry we are creating, experience is often a baggage and real ‘industry expertise’ is actually the guys who have built it with me. Also hiring for scale beyond the current reality of business  is a disaster in my view, as it only leads to disillusionment for both the new joinee and the existing team.”

Dippak Khurana, Founder & CEO, Vserv

Dippak Khurana

“The worst advice I have received is ‘Hire seasoned Professionals with solid track record. Been there done that!’

What would be a good advice : Hire smart professionals, who you beleive will unlock their best performance for your start up. Your mission + their skill & hunger will unlock the best  for both. The word “both” is very important.  Not been there and never done it, but high probability of cracking it.”

Krishna Kumar, Founder & CEO, Simplilearn

Image Source

“Look for successful business model…in USA and copy that. I think there are too many business opportunity in India to chase and you need not do that”. 

Ashish Kashyap, Founder & CEO, ibiboGroup

Ashish quotes multiple bad advice he has received. “Advise to fully replicate (copy-paste) a global product in India is fool hardy.” and Advise to hire very senior corporate employees in early stages of a business.

Sumit Jain, Co-Founder & CEO, Commonfloor

“Launch international or shift your base outside India, you can’t monetize in India.”

Jitendra Gupta, Founder, CitrusPay

Citrus Founders - Image Source

Citrus Founders – Image Source

“The worst advice I have received is to not start the business in payments as it is an overcrowded space and dominated by banks. If I had heard that we would have never been able to create Citrus and bring innovation in the payments industry in India.”

Swati Bhargava, Co-Founder & CEO, Cashkaro

“Worst advice was the recommendation to outsource our IT development! We have found that tech is integral to any online business and it’s important to have full control of the technology piece in your own hands.”

Bharat Sethi, Founder & CEO, Postergully

Bharat allows acknowledges that he received multiple bad advice while he was building Postergully. “Go for your masters..It’ll help you raise money easily” and “Indian artists are not creative enough. Hence, no market” are two of them that he quoted.

Aloke Bajpai, Co-Founder & CEO, Ixigo

“‘Focus only on usage growth and engagement, monetisation and revenue can come later.’

Quite a few investors I spoke to in the first few yers of our business gave me this advice. But having survived through 2009, I can vouch that revenue and cashflow is important and all businesses must have a clear path to future profitability.”

Ambareesh Murty, Founder & CEO, Pepperfry

“I think the worst business advice that I have received till now was to change the name of Pepperfry to something descriptive (but boring). I think the advice was based on a shorter term rational view and the point of view disregarded longer term differentiation and core brand culture benefits. Happy to share that I didn’t act on the advice.”

Vipul Parekh, Co-Founder BigBasket

Vipul Parekh

“While this advice may work for a late stage company for a young start up this is typically the kiss of death. If you have a good idea and you raise money prematurely you are leaving a lot of equity in the hands of investors. You also end up adding pressure to scale (VC’s once they invest want to see their money being put to use) and losing bandwidth managing investors. Also having too much money builds habits (and teams) which are difficult to maintain when the going is tough- bootstrapping or just enough money forces you to focus on the product and innovate. Too much money at the wrong time has killed more startups than entrepreneurs and investors care to admit.”

Sanjay Sethi, Co-Founder & CEO, Shopclues

Sanjay Sethi

“The worst business advice in hindsight looks like to be when people told us that ShopClues is one of many eCommerce sites in the country. By some estimates there were 35 other eCommerce companies of repute already operating in india in 2011 when we started.

We believe that if you can do something either cheaper than others or faster than others or better than others. Then u should do it!” 

Anupam Mittal, Founder & CEO, People Group

Anupam Mittal

“Every time I have started a business, I have been told, ‘this is not a business, it is a hobby’ or worse still, ‘a complete waste of time’.  I have been asked to put up textile mills and cotton farms instead or get into readymade garment manufacturing. Time, of course has proven otherwise.  The point is that most innovative business ideas sound absurd, until they are not.  The human brain is wired for survival and hence change can appear like an existential challenge to us. It is important to keep this context in mind when going after an idea.  A failed business does not kill us, it only readies us for whats next.”

And finally, as a bonus, Kunal Shah, Founder, Freecharge, adds “Every advice is good or bad in hindsight, I don’t think there were any bad ones”

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