We Want to make it Big

Archive for the ‘Startup Lessons’ Category

Attitude for succeeding at anything ‘New’

leave a comment »

An attempt to describe an essential state of mind which is necessary for the success of anything ‘NEW’. This mindset is most relevant, as these four components are critical to the success of something ‘NEW’.

It is extremely important to have a balance of openness, to iterative learning and being naive. Don’t be too emotionally attached to your idea as that might take away crucial opportunities for you to find the right model.

Read more at http://www.pixelonomics.com/attitude-for-succeeding-at-anything-new/

Advertisements

Written by karankanodia

June 6, 2011 at 7:37 am

Posted in Startup Lessons

Why I have 6 failed startups within a span of a year and a half?

with 3 comments

I have tried almost 6 different startups within a span of a year and a half. They have varied from a social venture providing sanitation solutions to low-income communities to an on campus food delivery service. Both of these have been semester long startups with many others lasting just about a few weeks. I probably didn’t do justice to any of the startups by giving up so quickly but I did learn valuable lessons which I have mentioned below –

  • Know your passions – Throughout my life, I have tried to find my passion. At one point, I thought I was passionate about art. This led me to combine my passion for art and entrepreneurship and start YouCanSee. The overall purpose of YouCanSee was to make art more inclusive to the general masses. The concept was a little too farfetched and complicated but that is not my point here. My issue was that this project was so ambitious that I didn’t want to spend this lifetime working on that and would rather choose something that I was more passionate about. So I continued to focus on sustainability, thinking that was my ultimate passion and I would rather spend all my time learning more about it and finally form a strong business around it. The more and more time I spent on it, I realized that more than “making the world a sustainable place” I was obsessed with sustainability because of the intrinsic business opportunity involved in it. Thus, I realized that it was entrepreneurship I was really in love with. At this enlightening moment, I decided to stop focusing on sustainability and start exploring my general entrepreneurial interests and develop skills that will make me a successful entrepreneur. And since then, I have essentially opened myself to any opportunity that has high business potential.
  • Be realistic – There is so much talk about entrepreneurs being extremely unreasonable people who question the status quo and drive change. I disagree with the former part of that statement. The most successful entrepreneurs I know are very rational people. There is a huge difference between being rationally optimistic and fantastically optimistic. I think it is extremely important to be honest with yourself about your current abilities, network and other factors to not live in a fool’s paradise. Think about dropping out of school. There is no reason for people to drop out of school unless necessary. I am not against dropping out but I am against pursuing the entrepreneurial whim. I am planning on my gap year now to work on my startup but I will be in school till I form the foundation. Stay in school, flesh out your concept, form a team, etc. A lot of these things can easily be done while in school. Again, this led to my failure because I was so fascinated with the entire entrepreneurial lifestyle that I started staying up at night not working on anything concrete but browsing around the web, decreasing the importance of classes and printing “entrepreneur” on my business card. The web browsing part was definitely helpful in increasing my awareness but if I managed my time more effectively, I would not have had to stay up late at night and be less attentive in classes. Overall, I was trying too hard to be an entrepreneur and gaining acceptance from the entrepreneurial community around me. But later, the more time I started spending in my room talking to close friends and not caring about what “real entrepreneurs” thought of me, I became much more confident and realistic in my endeavors.
  • Combination of patience and tenacity can make all the difference – If the above two factors are working in your favor – i.e. you are passionate about what you are working on and are realistic about your situation and what you need to do to achieve what you are striving for, you need two more things – patience and tenacity. Startups involve a lot of random crappy work that is not exciting. Especially, if you are a 20 something entrepreneur working on your first venture, it is hard to get necks moving in your direction. Whether it be convincing people to join your team or finding your first customer, everyone gives you the “you’re still a kid” look. Learning to face that with a smile and moving on towards your goal requires a lot of tenacity and patience. Patience because it takes time for things to happen and tenacity because you need to consistently be pushing in the “no success” period.
  • One more thing (Emotional attachment) – Many times we are so emotionally attached to our initial idea that we lose sight of reforming and reshaping the idea based on lessons that we learn along the journey. This is similar to what my dad told me about business once – “keep emotions out of business”. Again, I m not against emotional attachment to one’s startup, as that can be a powerful motivator for many entrepreneurs. However, it should be limited to the extent that it doesn’t interfere with one’s rational judgment. The main point here is to not be resistant to change because of emotion. I decided to drop YouCanSee when I realized that my initial model didn’t make business sense. Now when I reflect on it, I can clearly identify a few great business opportunities that could have emerged if I had allowed myself more flexibility.

Right now this is completely what my life is about. I m trying to run a startup in India while attending school in Boston. It is killing to be up waiting for things to happen back in India at their own pace while you can’t do much in terms of execution apart from make phone calls. I am currently building the foundation and planning a gap semester/year depending how things work out. I also keep questioning my rationality by thinking whether it is better to focus on school and wait to startup after I graduate when I’m physically in India. That might be a more rational decision but my ambition does not allow me to sit down and wait for time to pass.

Written by karankanodia

January 1, 2011 at 7:35 am

The Summer Adventure

with 2 comments

The Summer Adventure

This past summer (I know it’s kind of late to talk about the past summer) I had a complete changeover. When I was a kid I was good at drawing but for the past 6 years I had become oblivious to Art. My maternal side is really big on painting and that’s the reason my house looks like a gallery. I always knew I had a knack for creative stuff but never thought that I would actually sit down and paint. Well having four months at home before I was coming to Babson, I wanted to explore a different side of me that I never gave vent to. So I sat down and painted and painted and painted and did nothing else. It took me a month to finish my first piece on canvas. I was making small lines with brushes rather than painting the entire thing and everyone thought I was crazy to be doing something like that. I did put in long hours of work in the heat (summer temperature India- 40 degrees Celsius) because I could not even switch on the fan as acrylic paint dries up very quickly; but finally when it was done, I was ecstatic! TOTAL ECSTACY! The theme was ‘The Heavenly War’ in which I painted the sun beating the moon to death with its crazy pincers. I wasinspired by the phenomenon that we see everyday where in the afternoons we can only see the sun even though the moon is there. So, it’s basically the sun that calls the shots. I was really happy with the aesthetics of my first piece but I did not feel the power in the theme.

Unsatisfied by the meaningfulness of my foremost work, I decided my next work would be something that really reflects who I am. Thus, I started working on my next piece ‘God’s Eye’. I even changed the medium from Acrylic to Oil, which was a totally different experience (Thankfully, I did not have to sweat it out without the fan as Oil doesn’t dry up for days). I cannot put my feelings in words but it’s something I get inspired by whenever I look at it.

Whenever people told me that they had seen the world, I always thought to myself how much had they really seen their native places. Thus, I decided that I would see as much of my India as I could before I went abroad. So, I travelled for around 3 months on and off during my summer vacations both villages and cities alike. From the forests of Assam to the deserts of Rajasthan; from the Holy Ghats of Varanasi to the prosperous villages of Punjab, I experienced things that I can never forget. The nomadic spirit in me is very strong and I can’t wait to go on my next wanderings and see more of this beautiful world.

With all this wanderings and paintings, there was something much more significant I was realizing. It was the untapped potential of the underdeveloped class of India. I could not help but imagine the future of the world if

the energy of this underserved populace could be streamlined for the greater good of mankind; and believe me, it was beautiful!!!

More to come!!!

I have spread my dreams beneath your feet. Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
W.B. Yeats

Written by karankanodia

December 15, 2009 at 8:38 am

Posted in Startup Lessons

New Life

with 2 comments

NEW found inspiration

Transitioning from Mayo College, mayoajm.jpg (1200×900)the most reputed Public Boarding schools in India, to Babson College, the #1 Entrepreneurship College. I was really excited not only about coming to College but also about entrepreneurship. I had no idea what entrepreneurship was until I came here. Every second I spend here the only thing on my mind here is Business!!!! I am pretty much a self inspired person. But I learnt the biggest thing here and that is to direct my inspiration towards my goal. Earlier I was just pumped up all the time to do something, being blinded by the notion that whatever work I have been doing was directed towards my ultimate goal. Still figuring out what my ultimate goal is or maybe that is where I am making a mistake. I have been so caught up in my thoughts about what my ultimate goal is that I am missing out on the opportunity to experience and explore and make mistakes.

I have met a lot of extremely motivated and interesting people @ Babson and Olin College of Engineering and it is just through interactions with these amazing people that I have learnt the most. And this is just re-enforcing my belief that there is a lot more to be learnt outside class than through them (The main reason I am not doing much work in FME- which is a foundation class in which we run our own business and are funded by the school). I was actually considering not coming to college at all and just travel for a few years like a nomad.

The most important thing that I am learning or maybe already learnt and now started practicing is to JUMP IN!!!! I learnt this from Fan Bi, who is the founder of Blank-Label, which makes customized clothing for the youth. I kept going to Fan, discussing my ideas and one day he just blew it and said, “It’s all bullshit, just jump in. Start exploring!!!”. Then I met Matthew Ritter (Fan connected me to him) from Olin College of Engineering from whom I learnt the power of discourse and asking questions. He even gave me the opportunity to work for Urgent VC, the firm that he is an integral part of. I cannot forget to mention Christopher Jacobs, whose story has been so crazily inspiring. He is the founder ofEmergent Group that is a Renewable Energy Consulting and Development company. Chris recently won the Business Week’s Top 25 Under 25 global business competition. Just by being around and observing these accomplished student entrepreneurs, I learn so much it’s not funny.

I must not forget to mention Jeremy LiuDuylam NgyenNikhil GuptaAmy Malinowski and many more students at Babson and Olin who are among the most hardworking and driven friends I have made so far.You all inspire me every second.

Being in Boston is great. The amount of opportunities here is unbelievable!!!! There are people all around you who are willing to help you all the time..

I will always be grateful to my family and friends back in India with whom my heart rests.

Can’t wait to get back home!!!!!
Wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!!!!!

Strive to be more than you can be ever be.

Written by karankanodia

December 11, 2009 at 7:46 am

Posted in Startup Lessons