Startup Saturday: From bust to boom, what failure teaches
Failure is a loaded word. Simply put, it means that you could not accomplish what you set out to do, but, it also portends the possibility of success. For it is the learnings of failures that pave the way to success. And, it is hardly possible that a fledgling startup did not make mistakes, did not succeed. Various entrepreneurs share what were their failures and what they learnt from it.
Prathamesh Korgaonkar of KickTechBox went through very trying times when he set out to be an entrepreneur. “I was working with Cognizant when I hit upon a solution in computer hardware. I thought it would be easy, but things worked out differently.”
Prathamesh rushed in with his idea without realising all that it takes to patent it, all that the regulatory systems need from a business. Says he, “First I thought that I could sell my idea straight away in the US. I found out that one needed to file a patent in one’s own country first before taking it anywhere else.”
So Prathamesh filed for a patent in India and then after six months filed for a patent in the US. “The Modi government has set up under ‘Start Up India’, a fast patent execution initiative, but the process is not so simple; you have to first be incorporated in India. It’s all crap that you can get your idea patented quickly. It takes around a year!”
Meanwhile Prathamesh got his US patent and fielded this to VCs abroad. Says he, “I even got Vinod Khosla interested in my venture, but I needed my Indian patent to be done first. My lawyer and I have been running around trying to get this patent organised. What is important is that if this takes so long, sometimes the idea may become too dated and get rejected.
“I think the mistake I made was in not realising the impact of these regulatory issues. Instead of rushing in, I should have tied up with somebody and then worked on my venture. While starting a business it is important to know the timeline and the platform on which you will launch your product. Simply rushing in is a mistake.”
On the Klock
A mistake that even Raj Ghumra made. “When we came to India from the UK my partner and I wanted to set up a restaurant in Pune, as that is the business we have expertise in. It’s been almost a year since we set up Klock Kitchen in Yerawada and looking back I feel there were some things we should have done differently.”
Raj and his partner Amita rushed in to leasing the space without giving it enough thought. “I feel if we had waited and thought of the implications of choosing such a place perhaps we could’ve made a better choice. This place at Commerzone restricts us to just the employees of the companies that have their offices here. Because of this venue we do not see too many outsiders walk in to our restaurant.” Raj aims to focus on the venue potential very seriously before staring his second restaurant.
Too good is too bad
Suresh Salunkhe is currently working on his second start up, buymaxo.com which is an e- commerce site for b-to-b industrial consumables. Earlier, he set up a business platform called bizporto.com which was a b-to-b local market search engine. “I was involved with bizporto for five years and we had grown to 5,000 paid customers with a team of a 100 people, but because I had differences with the investors I quit to start buymaxo.com.”
Ask him his mistakes and Suresh is candid. “When you work in an organisation you focus on just one function. When I was working before my entrepreneurial journey I was a product manager. You think that just because you are good at product management you can swing all other functions.”
Often entrepreneurs in their enthusiasm overlook the fine print. Or, fail to see the facts staring them in the face. Ranganath Kasare set up a footwear business. He says, “I make footwear that I sell to the police. I make shoes for the handicapped and sell industrial shoes. When I started out I thought it would be great to have a retail outlet. So I met this person and got into an informal agreement with him to rent his shop. My business did very well, but when that happened, the landlord wanted to increase the rent phenomenally. This was something I could not afford. So I had to leave that place.”
Ranganath’s business suffered on account of this. “I approached De Asra for help. They then told me that I should have read the agreement carefully and not agreed to an arbitrary increase in rent.” Rangaraj turned his business around by selling directly to customers. “I did away with the retail outlet concept altogether. I now take orders on WhatsApp or phone, and deliver directly. I meet large institutions personally and take orders. I do not need a store which is just a waste of money. “
When Samidha Kolhatkar started Brand Solutions she set out to provide branding solutions as she knew it, to customers. “I was happy to get inquiries from my customers till one time I was asked if I could provide digital solutions.
“Since I had not done this in the past I refused. I was afraid of failing to satisfy my customers, because I had no in depth knowledge of digital marketing.”
Samidha quickly learned that it was possible to take care of digital marketing requests along with traditional marketing. “I realised that I could collaborate. This collaboration model worked well for me. I
“ met a lot of people who I could trust with good work and started offering digital media solution as well. I now have a very good network of such specialists and my business has grown. Just being afraid and refusing orders was a mistake I rectified pretty quickly.”