This is a rare breed of book. It fulfils promises succinctly made in both title and subtitle. The notion of “entrepreneurship” is by and large vague, undefined and broad. This amorphous feature makes it pretty hard even for gutsy ventures to succeed as found in this book review.
Little wonder, then, that an online search for books on “entrepreneurship” in a popular site throws up a staggering yield of 44,829 titles available in this fuzzy area of business literature. It extrapolates into my educated guess that lion hearted risk takers – the sort who’d pick up books on entrepreneurship – can be counted in multitudes in India alone. Naturally it’s a dream field tempting droves of aspiring authors to write “how to succeed” bestsellers.
Expectedly, this splendid book stands as far away as possible from the lowbrow “how to” genre. Its co-authors Ashok Soota and SR Gopalan are acknowledged management doyens who have moved beyond information technology and financial consultancy where their respective careers began. Today, two quaintly named companies set up by Soota – Mindtree (established 1999) and Happiest Minds Technologies (2011) – have blossomed into hugely successful enterprises in the “smokeless services” sector while his friend Gopalan, founder of Dawn Consulting and Bizworth India, (sadly, he passed away on December 15) was independent board member of Happiest Minds.
The feature that imparts extra value to this book is that the thoughts and ideas discussed here are based closely on the co-authors’ own experiences. They have addressed the “issues, challenges and dilemmas” that bedevil most entrepreneurial journeys so those who’ve bravely taken the plunge are both forewarned to be careful and encouraged to go ahead nonetheless.
The starting point of a venture is always “the right idea”. Chapter One discusses the vital process of choosing it. The idea may be very original but then any good idea, sooner or later, will be emulated or improved upon. It is very important, therefore, to validate the idea and be convinced of its defensibility before weaving an enterprise around it. This insight is lucidly presented.
Next comes the Olympian task of funding the enterprise. Availability and ease of securing funding; merits and demerits of the choice between bootstrapping, angels and VCs; assessing the amount of money needed and understanding “matters that can leave the founders in distress if not negotiated astutely” are analyzed in valuable detail right up to the venture’s Initial Public Offering (IPO) stage.
Read more: Book extract: Let’s talk money
A major asset of this book is that Soota and Gopalan have generously shared insights that aren’t available in the public domain. Merits and demerits, booby-traps and pitfalls, being bold versus wary and more are delightfully covered in jargon free language. Plenty of examples are cited from Indian and foreign parallels. Thoughtfully, each chapter end carries a ticked list of “summarized practical takeaways” while there’s a wrap-up of top takeaways (and a glossary) at the end of the book.
I recently met a Mumbai-based techie, aged 30, who had teamed up with friends to pioneer a mobile wallet business. Demonetization gifted his firm a bonanza but, that apart, he avers the book under review is his Bible. (It’s the first book he’s read cover to cover!) I strongly urge every savvy geek out there to emulate this smart guy.
Sujoy Gupta is a business historian and biographer