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Neotrics: The Rise of Entrepreneur

दुर्लभं त्रयमेवैतत् देवानुग्रहहेतुकम्। मनुष्यत्वं मुमुक्षुत्वं महापुरुषसंश्रयः॥

As Swami Vivekananada had once said- the world is metaphorically divided into humans, epistemophilic and legends. Analogously, money minded people are humans, scholars are epistemophilic individuals and those who believe in personal freedom, innovation and creativity, particularly, entrepreneurs are legends. Does this axiom from ancient times hold true in the 21st century? Are these legends to remain mythical legends or are they to become truly legendary? In this era of global recession, where unemployment and cliché 9 to 5 jobs thrive, will entrepreneurs survive or will they be sky-diving without a parachute?

The Big Shot

When I was a kid, I would sometimes ask my grandfather what he did to earn a living. And each time he proudly said, “I am an entrepreneur”. “Look it up”, he said, so I did. I found out that an entrepreneur lived in a world where creativity bloomed as blossoming flowers with hard work being the water, an open mind being the sunlight and an array of other factors formed the manure. With a glint in my eye and curiosity in my mind, I began to wonder if my grandfather really lived in such a world? He owned an iron mill and wanted to create something new. This thought was the seed that placed him on the path of success. However, a dreamer gave birth to a realist. In glaring contrast, my father has this conviction of ‘life in the iron mills’- a typical business man. This ‘adrenaline rush of innovation’ is the base point that distinguishes entrepreneurs from business men.

My grandfather raised money from investors and for years worked out of his home at odd hours, until the money ran out. What to do now? A door closes and a window opens. He took his unfinished product to the market where he faced numerous obstacles along with the usual market uncertainties. However, he crossed each hurdle with great gusto. He headed project after project till one day, he succeeded. This is known as entrepreneurship. It is the ability to persist when no one‘s watching you for an extended duration. Without anyone notifying you what to do or remunerating you for your progress, how long will you hold your conviction?

Point Blank

From ancient times, to present to future, try to imagine the world in 2100. What do you see? Clearly, it’s not just the passage of time that we think about, but the progress made during that time. There exist two types of progress- horizontal and vertical. Horizontal progress means expanding the existing idea, that is, going from one to n. Vertical progress means to conjure something into existence from the gloomy void of oblivion, that is, zero to one, the essence of real innovation. It is the future. How is this progress to be made? Many entrepreneurs use the following tactics to perceive their progress-

1. Party like it’s 2008

It’s easy to fall prey to delusional beliefs. Conventional wisdom can be highly persuasive. During the Global Financial Crisis in 2008, the unemployment rate in US increased by 10.9% and its GDP decreased at an annual rate of approximately 6% [1] while in India it gave rise to ‘positive shock’- for example, the net FII inflows from September 2007 to January 2008 was US$ 22.5 billion as against an inflow of US$ 11.8 billion during April-July 2007, the merchandise exports recorded a growth of 13.6% reaching US$ 189 billion [2[ etc. Jagdish Khattar, former MD of Maruti Suzuki, launched a new venture during recession when most companies were putting their new projects on hold. It is this realism that he wanted to leverage- resources come cheaper than they would during the boom and newer stakeholders who are looking for help are willing to come on board too. This is what being an entrepreneur entails – finding optimism in the dark times using innovation as a medium of solution.

2. The Mafia Measure the competition like a scale. On one hand you have a perfect monopoly. Companies become monopolies by – (a) using tactics against potential customers, (b) getting licenses from the state or (c) have something unique to offer. Entrepreneurs become the mafia of the last group so that they leave their rivals in the dust.

On the other end, there is a lot of competition in which the price is primarily affected by demand and supply. Leo Tolstoy, a Russian writer observed that all happy families are alike, but unhappy families are each unique in their unhappiness. This is opposite in case of business. Happy companies create unique monopolies for the circumstances they face. Unhappy businesses all have the same issue: competition.

3. The Power Law The human endeavor is consistent across many different areas- there are few players whose output eclipses those around them. Economist Vilfredo Pareto named it the 80-20 rule. Pareto found that 20% of the peapods in his garden produced 80% of the produce. This propensity for the few to dominate the many is called the power law.

It forms the backbone of venture capitalism in which investors believe that high risk can bring in high reward. Many companies will fail, but those who succeed will become the part of the dominant 20% that win 80% of the earnings. Before starting a company, they consider that it will likely fail because it’s much better to yank your star to a company that has rapid growth. You might own 100% of your startup company, but there’s a big possibility that you may end up owning 100% of nothing. It would be much better to own 0.01% of a company like Amazon.

In The Land of ‘Baniyas’

“It’s all in their genes, they watch and smell money, they conquer any field” are some traits that define a Baniya. What one can learn from them is their ability to not miss new developments. The success story of Ritesh Agarwal, Founder and CEO of Oyo Rooms corroborates my point. In the times when seeking for a hotel manually was a tiring job, OYO abbreviated as ‘On Your Own’, originated as a virtual hospitality with aggregated economy hotels and guesthouses across India that could be found and booked online. As stated in Anekantavada of Jain doctrines that don’t get blown away by fads, but decide what is right in the given situation.

In this land came the godfather of all, N.R Narayana Murthy, Co-Founder of Infosys and ‘father of the Indian IT sector’. He started with just 250 dollars, borrowed from his wife and grabbed the opportunity of supplying customized software in the 1980s. Mr Murthy says- “he cleans his lavatory without fail every night when he returns from his office”. This taught him kindness and to never feel conceited- qualities that define an entrepreneur.

Take Your Drive in the Pit-Stop

Looking at the present scenario, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought about a global lockdown. During this time, the aforementioned tactics may or may not work. The entrepreneurs have been banging on about ‘pivot’. In business a pivot occurs when the business isn’t meeting the demand requirement of business and needs a fundamental change. For some it is a course correction, a strategic move to encourage growth and for others, ‘plan B’. The pivots that will occur in the next gen are-

1. Mastering the Remote Work

Remote work is the new normal. It is the need of an hour- for productivity and for the planet. The core component of far- flung work tradition is learning about leadership. It becomes more efficient when teams are formed within teams. And every team will require its captain.

2. Balanced Aggression

People mistake aggression as the precursor to violence. But a certain level of aggression is needed if greatness is one’s goal in life. Aggression becomes a problem when it is directed towards themselves. It must only be channelized into one’s work and express itself as discipline and performance. Aggression should be directed towards the creation of value-adding products/services. The process of taking breaks and still working with discipline is called balanced aggression.

Fly Beyond Blues

Skydiving disciplines and entrepreneurial disciplines go hand in hand.

Just like in (1) Angle flying, the aim is to fly at the same level and angle, the entrepreneurs aim to stay above the water in the early stage of commencement of business and then progress in a phased manner.

In (2) Cross-country, participants open their parachutes immediately after jumping and try to cover as much ground under the canopy as possible, in the same way, entrepreneurs reach to as many people as possible through intensive marketing techniques.

Experienced divers also perform (3) Night jumps. Once, entrepreneurs have established their monopoly, they now plan to expand their business.

(4) Swoop and chug means, at a later stage, some entrepreneurs aim to grab every new opportunity and chug a beer after every win, but some get lost in the beer blues that blur their future plans.

3…2… open the parachute! Is it missing? Will the situation give birth to the entrepreneur in you? Or will you die a painful death? Only one way to find out. Don’t let the gears of your brain rust. Oil them and make them work again. Innovate. For mankind has always thrived for it.

By Vayu Bhansali, Senior Secondary Student, Delhi Public School

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