Having a startup is no cake walk. The wild imagination people have about startup owners is far away from the reality a founder goes through everyday. Although, the best thing about having your own venture is that not networking is not an option, you have to, simply have to meet lots of people. In the span of the last one year, I might have met at least 500 people purely to network. 500 seems less, I usually meet 25-30 people in one single event itself, and I have been to gazillion events since I came back from the states. It was as if I hated my life in the US because people were so anti-social, and God heard me. He put me in a position where I would keep chatting with people for at least 10 hours every day. At the end of a typical day at work, when I come home and through God's grace if I have some spare time, I prefer 'listening'. I would listen to music, or watch a movie or my favorite series. I'm not complaining though, I love my job. I love being an entrepreneur. I've finally found peace with life, and sometimes its funny that I find solitude among company. I also have met a bunch of super interesting and uber intelligent people in the past one year (I complete one year in India this month), some of who I would like to mention here.
The top of my list would be Ankur Warikoo, the CEO of Groupon Asia. I have read about him so much, seen his videos, prep talks, that when I actually got to meet him, I was just thrilled. That one hour meeting with him was undoubtedly one of the most awesome meetings of my lifetime. The kind of questions he asks, the approaches he takes and the solutions to those approaches are very inspirational. Although I was careful not to tell him that meeting him was inspiring, since from whatever I have read and heard about him, he hates it if people call interacting with him inspiring. "Don't talk to me for inspiration, if you want to get inspired, read self-help books, watch videos. Meeting someone should only happen if both of you are actually worth each others' time." I'm not quoting him directly here, but in all his blogs and videos, this is what he actually projects. He's a firm doer, he's not a guy who would sit around and discuss approaches, he would rather have people try all approaches and have a foolproof answer. Check out his blogs and you'll see what I'm talking about.
Next would definitely be Rohit Prasad, the author of Startup Sutra. A friend of mine recommended his book once, and being the bookoholic that I am, I bought the e-book off Flipkart and once I started reading, I couldn't stop till I finished it. I'm not a huge fan of self-help books, but this one's different. Very different. It runs stories of different entrepreneurs through the eyes of one Moo Jin, and consists of real stories of real struggle and real success. 4 hours and few hundred pages later, I was immediately his number one fan. Meeting him for a few hours was hence a huge honor for me, to shake hands with the man behind all those inspirational words was enthralling. I wish to write such a book someday myself, and if I do, I will definitely make one of my dedications to him. My favorite part of the book is how first he defines a sutra saying that successful entrepreneurs are persistent, and later defines another sutra saying that successful entrepreneurs know exactly when its time to let go and don't hang on to expirational things forever. Mindblowing logics, amazingly down-to-earth inspirational person.
The third would be Suchi Mukherjee, founder and CEO of LimeRoad. It's always inspiring to see women, especially Indian women, start their own ventures and make it a million dollar company. I met her very briefly, but I loved the stories she mentioned in her talk about her initial startup days. One story struck me very deep in which she mentioned that once on a Sunday evening her website broke and she called her CTO who was at a close relative's wedding at the time. The guy arranged a laptop from the bride/groom's place within 15 minutes, and was working fixing the live site issue in the middle of the wedding. You must be someone amazing to have employees dedicated so much towards the company. This is one example I till this day give to my employees and I wish and hope that I will have many such stories myself to tell to others in the future.
Fourth would be Sanjay Sethi, CEO of ShopClues. I met him post one of his talks at IIT Delhi, and he was the first person who ever said that free offerings are useless offerings. In ShopClues, he said, they charged from day one. Nothing in life is ever free, and even Indian population is aware of it now. In fact, making something free reduces the seriousness of a vendor towards you. Of course a free model is the easiest way out, but then again, the easiest way is never the best way, is it?