Friday, November 11, 2011

Two Status Messages about startups

Ramanath Bhat, someone I met during a business meeting and Senior Manager Google TV Project at Sony this morning posted the following as his Facebook status:
"I think one of the toughest adjustments to make, particularly if you are coming from an established company, is entering a world where you have infinite needs from people around you, and no one needs you. That predicament in some ways defines the challenge of a startup. You have an idea, but no leverage, so you have to start making water into wine. You have to attract a team, attract money, attract customers etc. with nothing more than your vision and powers of communication. Entrepreneurs who succeed are those who don't get demoralized by that asymmetry, but instead view it as a challenge. Occasionally, someone hits on an idea that is just so brilliant or timely that it quickly creates leverage, but that's rare."

Tim-Westergren Founder of Pandora on moving from Big company to Start up 
I posted it in turn on my Facebook page later in the day with acknowledgements to Ramnath and to Tim-Westergren, adding that the same is applicable to someone who has to move from a startup to an large organisation. The corporate mavens are not kind to startup entrepreuners who move back and the road blocks are many. This post is not about this issue. 
 Pranay Srinivasan responded with a passionate comment and says:
There is more to this as well. Sometimes, as an Entrepreneur, you end up being a lone negotiator, who's cajoling his own troops to work for close to no money for long hours to attempt to succeed at pleasing completely unyielding customers who think they are doing you a favour by passing business to a relatively unproven vendor. You have to build relationships by destroying your ego, your self-image and come across as humble, but not needy; enthusiastic but not aggressive; foreceful but not arrogant; ambitious but not reckless; you have to find the money to sustain your vendors, your overhead and manage your growth while ensuring you dont create white elephants. You have to forge long term business links with clients based on your flexibility and your superior quality at rates which are lower than that they already pay. You have to make sure you dont compromise on payment terms or else you might end up in a cash crunch. And at the end of it all, no matter what your bank balance or your fears are that keep you awake at night or make you wake up suddenly in a cold sweat, you have to remember to Always Keep Smiling. 
Maybe the ones who are in the midst of this startup dream are fools. Or maybe the ones like me who gave up and decided to play it safe are the smart ones. One thing is for sure, there are no easy answers.

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