Maybe you want to grow, more than you could ever in a job, no limits, just opportunities. Maybe you have something you think is going to be the next big thing. Maybe it’s simply your passion or maybe you just watched too many movies or maybe too much TVF Pitchers ( No shame in admitting, these things do kind of have an inspiring effect ). Either way, whatever your reason is, if you’re here, you are looking to be an entrepreneur, or you already are one. And for those who decided to toughen up and run their own show, it can prove to be quite the bumpy ride more often than not.
The CMO League Event that took place on 5th November, 2015 at Leela Hotel, Gurgaon gave us a chance to interact with Mr. Naveen Kukreja , Group CMO & Director – Non Insurance Business at PolicyBazaar.com.
As you know there’s been this startup boom, everybody wants to go for a startup. Straight out of college, did you want to go for your own business, land a job ? What did you have on your mind at that time? And what would be your advice to our young entrepreneurs who want to start their own businesses right out of college?
I graduated in the mid 90s, so the good things to do back then were engineering or medicine, especially if you were from a middle class family. I went for engineering and then did my MBA. Out of college I really wanted to get exposed to the real world, but not through a startup, the late 90s were not exactly the age of startups. So the best thing was to join a large corporate which I did, learnt the basics of my trade, got exposure and by the time I had enough confidence and experience the startup boom really starting coming around, so that’s when I thought about joining a startup. And yes I think it’s always better to have some experience working before you decide to go for your own business. So that would be my suggestion to them.
Certainly you have a lot of experience, your reputation precedes you. According to you what differentiates a successful startup from a non successful one?
I think the first and the foremost thing which differentiates a successful startup from a non successful one, is the need you are trying to address , it has to be real , it has to be a consumer need or a gap in the current services that are being offered. The offering you are giving the consumers should be real, differentiated and unique. Even if it is already present, offering it in a unique fashion will get you a lot of attraction from investors as well as the consumers.
Sometimes the ideas are really good but they still don’t work out. What are your thoughts on this?
Yes, the ideas are sometimes really good and yet they fail. I think something that really impacts the success or failure of an idea, is execution, and rigorous execution at that, no matter how many times you hit rock bottom, there will be disappointments. Not giving up is key. The third is the capital -Your idea is good. You are executing well, but you need to have the capital. If you don’t have the capital to survive , you won’t make it. And I think luck also plays its part here, if you’re lucky. You go out and raise capital at the right time, you get the point. So I think these three ingredients make or break a startup.
Most startups worry about the big chunk of share the investors would take while raising the capital. What’s your take on that? How do you think startups should go about raising funds?
That’s a dilemma that a lot of startup owners would face, especially in the early stages. There’s no fixed answer to be honest. It really depends on the founder. There are some people who can bootstrap and run on their own funds, if you’re in that category as a founder then it’s not a bad way to keep progressing until you reach the stage where you need money. But when it’s clear that you need money to grow, you needn’t worry much about the investor’s control etc. because the investors are mostly rational. If they like your idea, if they like you as a person , if they like the way you are executing, they are betting at the idea and more so on the person, so they would not like to get the person in a difficult situation. Even if they take a reasonably large stake , they will want the person to have a reasonably large stake himself or herself, which would kind of motivate them.
Of course investors and VC’s are sensible and would like to maximize their profits but they are also sensible in realizing that we are investing because of the person and if the person is not motivated the whole idea and the business goes for a toss . So they are mostly sensible and my advice to the founders would be that when you’re going out: Be Flexible. When you interact with the VC’s and the investors you get sense if you’re comfortable and would be comfortable interacting with them for the years to come and if you get the right signals then that is the right investor for you .
So that was Mr. Naveen Kukreja with some great startup advices.
We hope this interview will clear the doubts of many young entrepreneurs who are eager to know what it takes to be the Game Changer.