Sep 20, 2008

On entrepreneurship

Subroto Bagchi of MindTree writes about Mohinish Sinha (whom I've featured earlier) and his insight during the TiE conference:

In the beginning, every one pitches in. That is what built energy, camaraderie and the romantic concept of the garage! Things now must get systematic; people cannot just be doing heroic stuff all the time. People must build respect for groups and not just individuals. Quite often, as the transition happens, the original group feels disenchanted - people miss their childhood, so to speak, and cling on. Childhood days may be beautiful but imagine remaining growth-stunted!
Teams must collectively move on; in the process they must shed some old behavior and adopt new best practices.
While presenting the case to migrate from “everyone pitches in here” to  the “things get done here” state, Mohinish talked about what he calls the “Suri Effect”.
In one of Mohinish’s earlier start-up, there was the unmistakable joy-de-vibre that even had the neighbor excited. This Mr. Suri loved the smell of the start-up and would frequently pitch in - there was no way you could unload a cart or move furniture without Mr. Suri being involved. It led them to call it the “Suri Effect”.
But a time must come when the teenage stuff must be left behind.
“Build a culture that builds scale”, is Mohinish’s advice. Apart from cultures that build scale, Mohinish spoke about Vision.
Give and state the Vision - again and again. Many organizations tire out or think articulating the Vision is a “state once, live forever” idea. It is not.
It is a long journey and people want to hear about the Vision, they want to know why we are in it together? They need to hear it every now and then. Newcomers and the old alike. But why Vision?
Because two kinds of organizational decisions must always flow out of the Vision - people decisions and strategy decisions. Vision must drive each time you have to ”make a call” in matters of people and strategy.
While focusing on building the team for the next phase of your company’s life, look for hunger, common emotional glue and commitment.

Another person featured on this blog, Sanjeev Bikhchandani also had his own take on startups in his column, advising people that bootstrapping is better than getting funding 
If you aren’t willing to bootstrap, then question your entrepreneurial skills. VCs understand this and prefer to support good teams that are bootstrapping rather than professional managers who are still in secure jobs, but have a nifty PowerPoint presentation.
Bootstrapping helps you to validate your concept for yourself, your team and prospective investors. Validation would mean the start-up team is in place, the product is ready and there are paying customers who are happy with it and willing to buy again.
And Rashmi Bansal announced that her book on 25 entrepreneurs from IIM-A is to be released soon!