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Lessons from successful entrepreneurs

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December 24, 2006 15:25 IST

Entrepreneurship and Indian Institute of Technology have become quite symbiotic, considering the number of IITians who have set up companies and turned successful.

Nothing tastes better than success. So what can one learn from successful entrepreneurs?

A passion for ideas is a must says, Jit Saxena, co-founder and CEO of Netezza. According to him, there is a huge amount of money chasing young entrepreneurs with bright ideas.

PanIIT 2006 Global Conference

So if you have an idea, just go ahead.

"There are more private equity investors than entrepreneurs. The venture capital scene is very vibrant in India. However the missing link is that of angel investors. This issue needs to be sorted out, as there are many people who need the initial funding of about Rs 25-50 lakh (Rs 2.5-5 million). Angel investors can play a major role not just with money but also guide them in the right direction," Ajit Balakrishnan, CEO, rediff.com said.

"Ideas must be invaluable. Believe in yourself and money will come your way," Saxena adds.

An idea is more important than the customer at the beginning, ideas can change later to satisfy customer's needs, says Basant K Gupta, director, Zeus Numerix Pvt Ltd, who has started his own company along with fellow IITians.

Ideas are floating in the air, it is for you to find it, Saxena says. The IIT brand helps but the focus must be to develop your own name as a big brand, Saxena points out.

Entrepreneurs agree that India is the best place to be in. "VCs from all over the world are focused on India. There are unparallel opportunities in India. You need the tenacity to pursue your ideas and emerge successful, says Basant K Gupta.

C Amarnath, professor-in-charge, SINE cited the success story of Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship as a resounding example of how entrepreneurship can flourish given the right ecosystem. "At SINE, we evaluate the ideas and see how useful it is for the customers. Ultimately a product cannot survive without customers."

An entrepreneur should never think about failures. According to Balakrishnan, entrepreneurs must be visionaries and they must be careful about VCs, as they tend to live with yesterday's wisdom. Often they are not willing to accept tomorrow's ideas.

Gunjan Bagla, principal of Amritt Ventures, an advisory service facilitating trade between the United States and India came up with an interesting insight about entrepreneurs.

"Being an entrepreneur is a lonely business. It's vital to have tomorrow's ideas and work towards tremendous opportunities that open up for you," he explains.

Mentoring is also crucial for entrepreneurs. At SINE, Amarnath says a huge network of ex-IITtians guide young entrepreneurs.

So what is the most important skill an entrepreneurship must have?

Gunjan Bagla says its leadership. "You don't have to be the most intelligent but you should have a vision and must be able to hire and lead a team of smart people."

Choosing complimentary partners is very important, Balakrishanan points out. Teamwork is vital agrees Prof Amarnath who is flooded with applications from budding entrepreneurs.

Must haves for entrepreneurs:

  • Great idea
  • Leadership
  • Vision
  • Good team
  • Determination to succeed
  • A good mentor
  • Accept failure as the stepping stone to success
  • Belief in oneself
  • Passion and commitment
Manu AB in Mumbai
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