Home > Get Ahead > Careers
What a lifetime entrepreneur has to say
Preetee Brahmbhatt |
March 09, 2006
It takes a lot to make a successful entrepreneur. And, though the rules change from culture to culture, a lot of them stay the same the world over. For a lot of entrepreneurs, it's less about the creation of wealth than it is about making a difference. And yes, they admit to adrenaline playing a role.
We managed to corner two successful entrepreneurs at the Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai, not so long ago. Sabeer Bhatia and Yogesh Patel were both in town to announce the formation of VoiFi Technologies Corp., a company they have set up jointly.
VoiFi is, in their words, a 'next generation' Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) communication software that provides superior quality Internet telephony services as well as audio entertainment. In addition to voice communication, the product offers user-friendly features that include instant messaging, voicemail, voice conferencing, file transfers and a couple of interesting gaming options.
Sabeer Bhatia, chief executive officer and co-founder of VoiFi, is no stranger to entrepreneurship. He, along with Jack Smith, founded Hotmail in 1995, then sold it to Microsoft for a staggering $400 million. He was named Entrepreneur of the Year in 1997, selected by the San Jose Mercury News and POV magazine as one of the 10 most successful entrepreneurs of 1998, and named by TIME magazine as one of the 'People to Watch' in international business in 2002.
Yogesh Patel has been a founder/ co-founder of start-ups like Hotvoice Communications International, Inc. once the world's largest unified messaging service provider.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs in India, we asked. And this is what they told us:
"I think, overall, India is a good place for entrepreneurs. There are a lot of entrepreneurs here. So far, many are focused more on services, a core strength of India.
:My advice to young Indian entrepreneurs who want to get ahead would be: Make sure, first of all, that the team is good. Without that, nothing is going to happen. Make sure they follow through and not give up the first time they see a sense of failure, because that will come along. If you look at all the things that failed in 2002, the companies that survived are the ones that are shining right now. You need to make sure you have lasting power and the markets will change."
"Entrepreneurship is about making a difference. It's not only about making money. There are lots of ways to make money – you could go buy land, building apartments, open coffee stores -- all legitimate businesses. Those are interesting, but it's not what a hi-tech entrepreneur does. A hi-tech entrepreneur thinks of creating products that have never been created before. Of offering a combination of services to the end user in such a manner that, over time, there is a potential to make profit.
"I have been a lifetime entrepreneur. The advice I would give them, first of all, is believe in yourself. Hire the best quality people. They cannot do it on their own. No one can win a war on one's own; a general is only as effective as his army. So, make sure you build a great army. It needn't be the largest army in the world, but it has to be the most effective army. Find people who believe in what you're doing.
"Finally, entrepreneurs should be able to think on their feet constantly. Markets change, technologies change, competitors change. But to be able to react to that -- to be able to constantly think about products, and constantly innovate them is what will ultimately be responsible for their success. If you kill the innovation goose, you can never win."