Archive for May, 2011


Start a company when you are young

I met a partner at a top VC firm in India who told me that I should get a job instead of starting up because according to him average age of the founding team of funded startup was 34-37 and thus I would never be able to raise investment. I think about this now and laugh because I think GharPay’s team has beaten the average by 10-12 years. The odds are definitely stacked against a young Indian entrepreneur but there are some tremendous advantages of being young.

1. You and your team doesn’t have kids to feed or a loan to pay off. GharPay’s entire top team of five people take as much as an average 27-28 year old would be earning after working up the corporate ladder. And these are very best people that I know. I doubt I would have been able to recruit only the best from my friends had I been 30, when most of them would never be able to take a serious pay cut.

2. You are on the path to success very early. The best musicians, dancers and scientists started off really early. To really build a blockbuster company, you need to be really good at starting and running companies, which comes from real world experience only. Better to start early.

3.  You are foolish enough to tackle a big hairy complex problem because you have no clue about the real world. And you become seriously successful only if you solve a big hairy complex problem. When it comes to entrepreneurship the only experience you need is the experience of having run a business previously. Domain knowledge helps but you can always spend a few months to a year understanding everything you need to run your business.

These are some serious advantages young people have, and its upto you to exploit these and fast!


Its tough

Its been a few months since I started working full-time on Gharpay. Its been some ride so far. I think every terrible thing they say that can happen at an early stage, has happened. Co-founders leaving, investors backing out, employees leaving, etc. Unfortunately there’s a list of terrible things that happen to growing company which haven’t happened to us yet, but I’m certain it is going to happen, no doubts there.

Entrepreneurs always tell you how hard it is, but I don’t think you ever really fathom what they mean until you go through that yourself. There are just so many days when nothing goes right until one day changes it all. Being persistent while being flexible to modify the business as you access new information is critical. I advise people to be committed to the process of starting up instead of being committed to the idea itself.

But is it all thorns? Absolutely not. Its fulfilling, exciting and fun(in a very weird way though). I especially enjoy working with smart people and executing what I believe is right. And when you hear clients telling you how important you are to their business, its a little like hearing people clap for you after you’ve performed on stage.


Traveling cheap in Europe

Traveling to Europe if you earn in rupees can be very daunting. Boy the euros can flow with little control, especially if you have credit card and towards the end of the journey you might seriously consider never returning back to India because at least you wouldn’t have to sell your kidney to pay off your credit card bills. But fear not with a little care and planning Europe is actually not that expensive to travel in for the brave and the open minded. I speak from my experience of being to Europe many times whilst still a poor undergraduate student.

1. Plan your countries well and try to include bordering countries which will save you money on rail passes (by far the cheapest way to travel). Italy is inexpensive as are Germany and France. Scandinavia is super expensive, Switzerland is comparable.

2. Book your tickets at least two months in advance to get the cheapest return ticket. If you are planning for multiple countries, pick a central European city to fly to and from. Flying out from the same airport will save you quite a bit of money. I suggest Zurich, which makes France, Germany, Italy and Austria accessible or Brussels, which is close to Netherlands, Germany, France and UK.

3. Stay in youth hostels, which are everywhere and very clean. Buying a youth hostel membership(INR 100 per year) will get you discounts and near guaranteed accommodation during peak seasons. I always couchsurfed and met a lot of interesting people.

4. Eat a monster breakfast and a light lunch and dinner. Healthier way to eat too.

5. And lastly walk or use public transport. Europe is tiny, so use a map to figure out where you got to go and you just might be able to walk instead of even using public transport.

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"I rarely end up where I was intending to go, but often I end up somewhere that I needed to be." - Douglas Adams

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