Create Value, Not Just Valuation
Mentors and entrepreneurs should know that competence can take you some distance but what takes one beyond is character
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Thought Leadership For Reflection: I have written about my brief encounter with Travis Kalanick in the last issue, who was suspended at that time. Later Travis had to resign. Many entrepreneurs have been resigned to their fate because of a fickle-character nurtured by instant gratification, the jugaad-mindset, the get-rich-quick-attitude, lofty over-ambitious behaviour and unrealistic bubbly-valuations.
In mid-2015, I was retained by some old friends (angel-investors), to engage as a mentor-coach with a 27-year-young founder in whom they had invested. The founder got fired from the startup that was hugely funded by the who’s who of the angel and VC community. At the behest of my friends I engaged with Ratul (name changed). After a few mentoring sessions, he shared with me why he had begun abusing people in public, throwing tantrums and being the “Bad-Boy-Of-Indian-Ventures”.
He was forced to scale-up, had no leadership, management or financial skills and was headily conceited by his quick-fix success. This young lad from IIT, confessed that the engineering degree had never prepared him for life or for interdependence. The pressure to monetise, expand and create big-valuation was overwhelming. This had broken his spirit. Thus, he was rebelling without a cause and without a pause.
I understood Ratul’s dilemma as he was pressured to perform by investors, who never cared to mentor him. After all, here was an engineer-coder who was pushed to expand and manage teams when he did not know the M of management or T of Team-Building. This my friends, is the sorry-truth-of-startup-India. Everyone wants to get rich overnight, very few want to create value. After some mentoring sessions, Ratul is now working hard, slow and steady to build a new venture and rebuild his path-of-glory.
#Ideas For Action: Today several entrepreneurs are failing and falling, some for sexual harassment, some for extramarital affairs between founders, some for creative-accounting and a lot for short cuts, jugaad and squandering/ siphoning off other people’s money. Entrepreneurs need to realise that there are no short cuts to any place worth going to.
To enjoy the fruits for long, we need to sow the seeds deep and nurture the roots to make them strong. Scalability without sustainability is useless. A lot of investors also call themselves mentors. They must realise that mentoring is an art and also a science and one needs to learn the science to practice the art. Mentoring is not about teaching quick-fixes and jugaad to enhance valuation. Mentoring is about practising ethics and guiding principles of doing business the right way. Mentoring is about provoking insights in entrepreneurs to make the right choices and decisions to go the long way. Mentoring is also about inspiring solid character.
Mentors and entrepreneurs should know that competence can take you some distance but what takes one beyond is character. Mentoring is about helping entrepreneurs understand delayed gratification v/s instant gratification and how one must work hard to deliver results, achieve goals and fulfill the mission for the long term.
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