This week Anuj gave us an incredibly inspiring talk from his very own personal start-up experience, and I thought it couldn’t be more of a perfect opportunity to write my reflection and thoughts on this talk.
Before we dive into the five steps and the successful “cycle” developed by Anuj, I want to point out some of my observations on the quality of a successful entrepreneur:
Energy, Courage & Belief
When Anju started his presentation, there is this immense energy that was beaming out from him, he sounded energetic, excited and extremely confident. He had a presence on that stage, and I believe it is exactly that presence which won over his investors. I think it is a essential quality personality wise that contributes to a successful entrepreneur. When you start up, you have to channel all your energy and be excited about it, as if nothing is out there too scary to stop you, which leads to his 1st point:
Why is this the very first point? I wonder. And after some soul searching I think Anuj is right about this. A 100% commitment is the very foundation of your start-up journey, if that foundation is not strong enough to support you, everything else will eventually fall apart. Just like what Anuj said in a positive direction: “When you commit 100%, everything else will just fall into the right place.” You have to be committed to your start-up, and by “committed” I think it translates to more of a powerful determination. You have to be determined to walk this path, and stop looking other ways. I confess that the very idea of starting up without a backup scares me, but that is exactly what is holding me back. Simply put, I’m not ready to commit yet, and I am very sure that I’m not alone in this. The idea of “be your own boss” is very attractive and in the mean time intimidating. Therefore what most people will do is to treat it as a “trial” and prepare them a “safety net” while starting up. “If things go wrong, I always have a _______ as a backup” they will think. However this very move of leaving yourself an exit is what prevents you from devoting yourself wholeheartedly in the start-up business.
2. Compelling Concept
When I was listening to this point, my biggest take away from Anuj’s stories was that he managed to “deceive” himself. “Compelling” does not just mean compelling to others, but most importantly compelling to yourself. In other words, I think this whole point is about the power of believe. You have to believe in your idea so strong that you manage to “mesmerize” yourself. When you have a idea, it doesn’t matter if others think it is absurd, stupid or impossible. You have to believe in it. Believe it is going to work despite all the other odds. Believe it is the brightest idea on earth. Believe that your idea is “bulletproof”, to quote Anuj. Believe it like your very own little religion, and you will make it happen if your belief is strong enough.
3. Customer Contracts
Once you have your idea and you are committed to it, you have yourself sorted out. This is the step to get others on board and put it down on paper. Anuj’s story was fascinating, how he managed to get Coke, M1 and all the big names to jump on board? I think I’d like to use the word “gumption”. It doesn’t matter if you are not full of experience or credentials, it is all about gumption. If you think you are small and insignificant, others will treat you the exact same way. What Anuj did was a bold move, but it worked! and Why? I think he truly believed that his concept was compelling enough and it really can make a difference, and he did not think for a second that he was insignificant to speak to head of marketing of APEC at Coke. That confidence, or “gumption” is what let Anuj to grasp renowned clients right from the beginning.
4. Competent Co-founders
I’m not going to repeat what he mentioned during the talk and this point is very straight forward: get the competent partner. But I do want to talk about what we have to do to allow us to find the right partner. I think the key is “don’t be afraid to share”. Many will have the fear of getting their ideas stolen or “copied”, and that is a legitimate concern. However I think by putting your faith and trust in people first is way more productive and helpful than starting with doubt and suspicion. In a way, I believe “offense is the best defense”. By putting your trust in other people first, they naturally feel a sense of responsibility and a sense of being valued, and that implies an expected mutual trust and cooperation. We all have conscience. Doing something unethical is agains our nature and it is not a pleasant feeling. If you let your guard down and put your faith in your partners first, instead of setting up your defenses in every step of the way, it helps to let other people’s guard down and to create a positive, cooperative atmosphere. Plus, so what if someone copied your idea? Does that mean that person will succeed? He might not have the resources/advantages you have. Therefore, have a little faith in yourself and in other people when you look for the “competent co-founders”.
5. Cash & Capital
I think what Anuj said was so true. There’s enough cash to go around, but definitely not enough good people to invest in. Personally I believe money is the last thing to worry about if you do the 4 steps before right. For starters I personally think step 1 is a hard enough challenge. Imagine if one is fully committed, determined, have the right partners, the right clients and with a brilliant idea, who wouldn’t want to invest in this potential “the next big thing” and get a share in that if it succeed? However of course when you source for funding you have to be smart about it, neither under value yourself nor over estimate. Overall I strongly believe we should concentrate on the first 4 steps and do it right. The money will come just like everything else that falls in place to make your idea come true!
So what are your thoughts on the talk? Your insights are more than welcome!