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'Entrepreneurs don't fail, organisations do'

November 06, 2015 08:30 IST

What does India's e-commerce pioneer K Vaitheeswaran think about doing business in India? Read on to find out!

K Vaitheeswaran

There are no rights and wrongs when you're an entrepreneur. These are views based on my experience in the past 15 years in the e-commerce industry," said K Vaitheeswaran, India's e-commerce pioneer and of founder IndiaPlaza.com.

Speaking at Techsparks 2015, Vaitheeswaran added -– in jest -- that while he seems to be seen as an expert in failures, he isn't one.

"The pleasure that I have got out of the venture that failed is a lot more than the ones that worked," he added.

This, he says, is because there is a lot more you learn when things don't go your way, than otherwise.

Success is a matter of luck. Ask anybody who is a failure

"It's like playing a game of cards. Everybody playing cards wants the queen of hearts, but there is only one in the pack. The one who gets it wins," says Vaitheeswaran.

This doesn't mean that others didn't put in efforts or play well.

It is possible that more than 95 per cent of the companies who start may not have a pleasant outcome. But, 100 percent of the startup entrepreneurs will succeed, he adds.

"Entrepreneurship has nothing to do with the outcome of the organisation," he explains, adding that the outcome of the businesses is determined by a series of events and people you might not necessarily be able to control.

The only control the entrepreneur has is to start up.

That is success in itself.

What is required to become an entrepreneur?

People, capital, and idea are important but are matters of details.

According to Vaitheeswaran, what one needs to start-up is courage and a little stupidity.

An entrepreneur is someone who ventures into a treacherous sea with a boat and just one paddle. The journey is completely unknown and dark.

You could get caught in the storm or reach the shore or get rescued. Entrepreneur is someone who has a bit of courage and stupidity according to Vaitheeswaran.

You don't need an innovative idea to start-up

"All great innovative ideas are done. I can guarantee you that there is going to be no great innovative idea that is going to come up till the next one," says Vaitheeswaran.

He adds that every idea or new business is a process of improvement on the existing ideas."

Vaitheeswaran says that your business should be able to do three things:

  • Your process should be cheaper, faster, and better.
  • Fail fast and pivot is a cliche. Don't start a business where you know you're going to fail fast. Think hard on what you want to do and persevere.
  • The purpose of a business is to make money. If it doesn't make money, it's a hobby. "Hobbies are good, some people read books, watch movies, travel, enjoy sports or even start e-commerce companies," jests Vaitheeswaran.

To do a business, you need to start with the boring stuff like making a business plan.

Make it as detailed as you can, applying the two-part-three: divide your sales by three, gross margins by half, and multiply your cost by two.

Fund raising for a business is an incident, not an outcome

Vaitheeswaran believes that too many entrepreneurs fool themselves into thinking that the purpose of a business is to raise money.

The purpose of a business, he adds, is to make money and not raise money.

"You raise money because you need it to grow, and if you have to raise it several times, then you haven't been able to manage the resources given to you," he points out.

Look for investors who put money in your company; many entrepreneurs look for investors who put in money and add value.

"If the investor was smart enough to know about your business and has money, he would've started up on his own," Vaitheeswaran adds.

Be nice to your family

All entrepreneurs will go through tough times and things will be difficult. But as Vaitheeswaran points out, it is your family that will be your support.

"Entrepreneurship takes the life out of you. These are long and arduous journeys that are taken alone.

"There lies a dark side beyond the glitz and glamour. When you've lost everything, only your family will welcome and love you unconditionally. When you're off building the next big thing, they will support you," he adds.

Sindhu Kashyap