Build something that matters

3 years back I embarked on this journey of entrepreneurship. It has been 3 years of lot of sacrifice, frustation and fun. 3 years of faith, belief and doubt. 3 years of insecurity and promising future. 3 years in company of awesome people and loneliness. This friendship day we complete 3 years of WYO.

As you can guess it has been 3 years of mixed feelings. As we continue to grow, these mixed feelings keep increasing. We are more insecure now than ever. Our risks are higher. In the midst of severe competition, rising overheads, bad economy and less margins and all the startup woes I keep asking myself that what is driving us? What if the competition is better? what if our plans, products, strategies failed? What if we were just not good enough? …so what? I often see that we are sometimes more driven by competition and insecurity rather than our quest to build something that matters.

This 4th year at WYO, we are going to act even stronger, have even more faith and believe in our ability to build something that matters. We are not going to be driven by competition but ourseleves. We came this far because of what we did and now is the time to raise the bar and out do ourselves.

Find an excuse to win

I just cannot overcome this statement. I saw  Lone Survivor day before and in the beginning of the movie the narrator makes this statement – “Do whatever you want but just find an excuse to win.”

This statement just threw me back. I do tend to crib a lot when I am unable to achieve something. It is human nature to give reasons for everything. Sometimes even before we set ourselves to achieve something our defense mechanism has already prepared us with reasons to give if we are unable to accomplish the task.

It is always about mind over everything. If we can really get this ingrained into ourselves we would be able to achieve things that we thought we were incapable off. Push ourselves to the limit and define new milestones. This is what this movie teaches us very well.

 

 

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Commencement Speech by Twitter CEO

Commencement speeches do tend to be very heavy, the kind that get you to thinking lot of things and make you feel nervous and inspired at the same time. I happen to stumble upon the recent commencement speech given by Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter at the university of Michigan and let me tell you, I just loved it. The take away that make courageous choices, Be bold

Dick Costolo

Dick Costolo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

and ALWAYS BE IN THE MOMENT. I cant tell you how relieving it is if you can relate to it. The best thing about life is that it can’t be scripted and how you can just choose to make courageous choices and be resilient in your pursuit to accomplish your dreams.

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My Daughter

You were born on March 22nd 2013 at 6:45 pm, you made me feel so special. I just did not know how to express, I just knew I could stare at you forever.  When I saw you, I kind of felt thoughtlessness. I did not want my mind to be corrupted with any worldly thoughts , I did not want to be aware of whats happening around me. I just wanted to look at you. It was such a pure feeling. It was like feeling innocence.

You are my love at first sight 🙂

Some words that a friend wrote for me:

Ghoda Banuga, Jhule Chadhunga,

Khilone se Khelunga,

Jee Bhar Hasunga,

Beti mein bachpan dubara mila hai,

Abki naa bachpan ko waste karunga.

 

Just Believe

It is more easy to be afraid than to believe. Why?

It is more easy to be pessimist than to be optimist. Why?

It is more easy to be fearful than to have courage. Why?

It is more easy to be in your comfort zone than to venture out to follow your dream. Why?

If you were to define yourself, how would you?

I think it is important to have a dream that is big enough to define you. A life that is lived in pursuit of that dream is worthy enough no matter what is the outcome.

Running an Startup

Firstly, Happy Dhanteras!! and hope you guys have great Deepawali and prosperous New Year!

Many of you would second that running an Startup (We still have to strive a little harder to qualify to call ourselves an Startup as per Paul Graham)  is such a roller coaster ride that it is not even funny. Last couple months have been very hard, inspite of things going well, we have been running into some problem or the other. I have learned some invaluable lessons. Hit by wall on some occasions and being a single founder things have been much harder in my case. Luckily  I have very experienced businessmen in my family i.e. Dad and Brother. I have been taking their advice more often now on how I should go about running the company. I did like to share two important things in this post:

1. Accounting and Admin: I think the first people any new company should hire is an accountant and office admin. I cannot emphasize more on how important this is. As Startup founder(s) you tend to focus more on the idea, execution, sales, traction and meeting people. In your mind these are the big and the important things. One mostly tends to ignore to setup the basic accounting process, required official documentation, followup on meetings etc… What this leads to is improper financial management, unfulfilled commitments and loss of business opportunities at times. These issues surface real bad when you try to scale and when you discover the mess, it has kind of become part of the company’s DNA. When you try to instill these processes, it can be very difficult to change the mindset of your employees. I would not be very surprised if an founder does not exactly know if he is profiting or making loss, the exact costing of his products,  his finance unaccountable, and his staff  disorganized to respond to business opportunity quickly.

2. People and Management: As an new business with limited capital access you generally have limited staff resources working for you and who are naturally multitasking. It is very important that the first few people you get on board are the people you can rely on. It is very difficult to know when you hire them though. If you have bootstrapped your company, there is no angel investor or mentor, it is very difficult to attract talent. It can be more difficult in India if you are not from IIM or IIT to get people trusting you and your vision. As you can guess, problem is much bigger in single founder companies.

Now if you have managed to employ some key people, a bigger problem lies in managing them (more if this is your first startup). A lot depends on your first few hires who will eventually build the foundation of  the company. How do you instill the right values,  processes, trust, make things executable? A lot of this will come to you with experience but what do you when you are new? As founder(s) you are still figuring out your business and at the same time how do you manage to get the right team, right culture and off course you do not have money too. Trust me distributing equity does not help either. There are many key people who do not follow in the equity criteria but are still very key to your business. For example in my case, warehouse staff, back office, customer support, etc…

In my experience so far, even after getting the right people (trusted, capable) on board with limited capital, you really need a lot of luck to make things workable for you. You cannot afford your people getting sick, they having personal problems. They take time of work and down goes everything for you. Also an Startup sometimes is an very hostile environment. You will have to learn to manage your key people really well, take care of delegation really well and make the working of the company very very transparent . No matter how good your idea or product is, if your people are not able to support you all the time forget growing, you cannot even do your daily business with efficiency.

I think the way it all works, is the founder(s) leading the way. Below are few things I feel are more important to succeed than just having an good idea and a big market:

a. Discipline: Discipline is I guess more important then intelligence. I cannot agree more with Mukund Mohan and relate so well with his post.

b. Cool Head:  Founder who is extremely aggressive in business but cool headed when it comes to dealing with his partners, staff,  vendors, their ego and actions. Especially in India, wherein in people have an nack of being unprofessional when it comes to keeping their word.

c. Must keep his/her word. If you do not value it others will not either.

d. No compromise in Product or Service Quality. Honest and fare communication with the customers. Even if it means making loss in an transaction.

e. Honest in communication with his partners, stakeholders, key people and keep them completely aware of the the real problems, situation that the company is in.

Off course, there are many people with good ideas and cream of a business but still do not manage to build a success story out of that. A lot of it has to do with experience, continuous learning, self development, discipline, making the right choices, taking the right advice, having the necessary luck and most importantly having unwavering faith in yourself, your team and your dream.

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Building a Brand that is SOCIAL

Continuing from my last post wherein I concluded with saying that at WYO we want to build a Brand that is “Social” in real terms.

Lately have been thinking a lot about everything that as an SOCIAL in it. What do we mean by “SOCIAL”? Social is a very funny word because it’s meaning changes as the context changes. Social can mean anything that takes human interests into account, social could be a society or community of people with commonality, social could mean relationships, connecting, sharing in a positive aspect and every action that is not positive or not to the benefit of human beings is anti social such as alcoholism, terrorism and so forth.

if you notice carefully you have probably never heard the term “social” so much in your entire life as much right now. everything that is social is so cool like social networks, niche social networks, social media, social tv shows and these are cool because human beings are social by nature – it is the way we are designed and so we love everything that is “SOCIAL”. We want to be able to connect, share, relate, inspire and be inspired. It’s who we are.

At WYO , we are trying to build a brand that is about YOU. Focussing on designs that you can relate to, a relationship that you can trust, a brand that represents the common man’s uncommon work. In the hind sight it seems funny when we think about the name of our brand – Wear Your Opinion. For us it was always about you – right from the beginning.