'Failure is the gateway to success'
Founder of UniverCell Telecommunications Sathish Babu shares golden advice for young entrepreneurs from his own career. Illustrations by Uttam Ghosh and Dominic Xavier
D Sathish Babu founded UniverCell in November of 1997.
The company when it launched, sold post-paid mobile connections to customers.
Two years later, after having studied the mobile and telecommunications market in India and the southern states in particular, Babu launched his first retail store in Chennai in February 2000.
The seed fund came from his own savings and some capital from the family.
In the last one decade UniverCell has expanded to about 500 stores across the length and breadth of the country.
Today, it employs over 1500 people and caters to over two lakh customers.
Here, the visionary entrepreneur talks about the lessons he's learned from his own career and shares them with us for the benefit of aspiring entrepreneurs.
1. Don't be afraid to fail
Successful entrepreneurs, if you notice,will fail-fail-succeed, fail-fail-fail-succeed, fail-succeed-fail-succeed, succeed-succeed-succeed, like that. So, don't be afraid to fail.
If you didn't fail, you are a failure. If you fail to fail, you are a failure.
Failure is the gateway to success, don't be afraid to fail, get up and run again. That’s my no 1 message.
When I started off, I had to go and sell.
When I was selling, at nine houses when I go tap the door, nine people will say, 'not interested', 'get out', 'don’t waste my time'.
But still I had to carry a smile on my face, and go to that 10th customer, keeping in mind he might buy and not think that nine people have not bought so this fellow will also not buy.
I'd go to him thinking that he is going to buy.
When I went to him, if he said 'may be'; then, I'd convert the 'may be' into a yes. That's where I put my efforts into.
2. Be positive
Think about what you want to get. Say, you want to buy a car; think that you are buying a car.
Keep talking to yourself, mesmerise yourself.
Say, you want to do a business of Rs 100 crore or Rs 200 crore; keep saying: 'My business is going to do 100 crore' everyday.
It will become a habit, and eventually happen.
Be positive and think. Whatever you want to do is in your mind.
If your mind decides, you will do it.
3. Think big
When I started UniverCell, I had only one store. But, at that time itself, I told myself that I will be present all across the country.
Today, I have completed 16 years, and am just crossing the south.
I have gone to Mumbai, Pune and set up stores; we'd be covering the West region in the next 12 months.
Today I am close to 500 stores.
If you look at my company name, it's called UniverCell for a reason, it's something big.
Don't think small.
If others are working for 10 hours, you work for 18 hours. That would be my fourth advice: Work hard.