The life of an entrepreneur is not easy, especially if one decides to embark on such a journey at a late age. When I took the plunge at 56 and co-founded a start-up, I couldn’t imagine the trials and tribulations I was going to go through. Reading Wisdom for adult start-ups: discovering Ayurveda in business by R Gopalakrishnan and R Narayanan, I was able to not only relate to my experiences, but also gain new perspectives on how an entrepreneur can effectively handle the many problems he / she faces.
Gopal and Naru (who are blood brothers by the way) have used their combined experiences of almost 100 years with large companies and many start-ups in India, to distill their wisdom and present a compelling story. If you are looking for a prescription on “How to Build a Unicorn” you will be disappointed. But if you are looking to understand why, as an entrepreneur, you are unable to cope with certain problems, you will find a wealth of information in this book. According to the authors, “We agreed that the information should be put together and presented, leaving readers to reflect on this knowledge and adopt what interests them in their own context.”
Section 1 of the book is devoted to start-ups. The nine Indian start-up stories are exciting to read. Naru’s close involvement in the startup ecosystem in India and his personal connection to many entrepreneurs involved in these ventures gives us insights that may not be available elsewhere. While, as you might expect, eight of the nine were companies in the “tech” field, I was happy that the story of Sri City was presented as well. Some of these stories are about those who set out to become entrepreneurs when the word start-up was neither cool nor trendy. Elsewhere in Section 1, the story of Galaxy Surfactants is presented as an Indian example of how “startups can dance with adults”.
The opinions presented by the authors on issues such as financial prudence, valuations, governance, government policies are, in my opinion, very valuable. Examples in India and elsewhere help the reader understand the long-term impacts of these issues that a start-up founder faces day in and day out.
Section 2 concerns adults. In this section, the authors say: “Just as Ayurveda has distilled the lessons of good health and long life, Corporate Ayurveda speaks of the lessons and wisdom of long-term business for future start-ups. . ” I gained valuable insight from the sections that describe the “Samskar of Long-Lived Companies” and “Mistakes of Short-Lived Companies”. Speaking of errors, I was surprised to note a typo on page 22, where it says that Flipkart acquired Myntra for around $ 20 billion. It is expected to be ₹ 20 billion (₹ 2000 crore). It makes a lot of difference if you mention it in the wrong currency!
In the concluding section, the authors say, “In the stories of profitable and cash-generating start-ups, we find that what we call the wisdom of Corporate Ayurveda has been discovered and absorbed to a large extent, and the pragmatic teachings. adults have also been adopted. This can be a formula for success for many start-ups. “
The book is interspersed with many references and ideas from renowned authors and educators to explain and support their opinions. I intend to use the book as a resource that I can come back to from time to time.
It looks like the book was written before Covid-19 hit us. There is only a fleeting reference to the pandemic in a small paragraph. In fact, a Black Swan event like the pandemic has demonstrated the resilience of the majority of Indian start-ups. I believe the reason most entrepreneurs take the arduous journey of building and growing a business is the “why”. I remember CK Ranganathan, founder of CavinKare, and an icon for many entrepreneurs in the south of the country, before mentioning to me that an entrepreneur must first be clear whether he is there for the passion or for retirement!
The critic is an entrepreneur and
co-founder, Proklean Technologies