There would hardly be an entrepreneur (especially in gaming / technology industry) in this country who hasn’t heard about Alok Kejriwal. His glowing face, impeccable business understanding, true to the heart words on his tongue and confidence in his voice completes the package of a charismatic personality. I have heard in the past about him and his open house sessions, but on 9th Nov, I had the opportunity to attend one such for the first time, which was conducted at IIT Delhi campus.
I reached before the scheduled time and took my seat at the back of the seminar hall which seemed to have a seating capacity of around 200 people. Only a few people were around in the hall, and once this gentleman entered the hall, the dull seminar hall all of a sudden transformed into a vibrant place. People shook hands with him, a few of them had an opportunity to greet him with a hug and few tap on his back, while he greeted everyone around. Just when I thought he would be doing only this to few people sitting at the front of the hall, I was proved wrong, when this person walked right up to the last few rows where I and few others were seated. While he shook hands with me, I was embarrassed with myself to have misjudged his personality.
Soon the seminar hall started becoming a crowded place with people. These were some of the bright entrepreneurs of the country who chose an unconventional path and were happy to toil with the hope of achieving their dreams.
The best surprise for me was when the house was asked to stand up for the national anthem! How many times have you seen that happen at a business meet / conference / open house session? It was first of its kind experience for me and loved the gesture.
The major attraction of the 3.5 hour session was the ‘There but not There’ presentations. Few entrepreneurs who had ventured in to a business but were still struggling to make it big presented their ideas and they asked their doubts to Alok & others presented in the hall. I loved this format where entrepreneurs had an opportunity to share their idea among the like-minded people to receive both brickbats and appreciation. Alok replied to their queries with a straight forward answer, asked few questions back to the presenter, offered them help in couple of cases and also involved the audience to pitch in and help the presenter to deal with the problem.
Then there were three surprise announcements of which, I am sure everyone walked off the seminar hall with these two memorable instances.
First, Autowallah entrepreneur counted the number of customers who took his auto. He knew the distribution of male-female in the total number count. He had the count of repeat customers. Guess what! All these fingers were on his fingertips, who also enabled employment to about 23 people under him, of which we recently fired four people for having misbehaved with female commuters. This shy, lanky, hindi-spoken guy impressed almost everyone in the hall and not only he earned lot of appreciation but also, made everyone realize the importance one should give to the end customer. Nevertheless, why its said ‘Customer is King’.
Second, the blogpost by Abhinav Sahai, Founder and Director of Niswey titled, Flat, marriage and family – 3 reasons why young Indians don’t turn entrepreneurs! that received more than 1,00,000 views on The Rodinhoods website. Inspired by this blogpost, few youngsters prepared a short film.
The main attraction to me of the event were these valuable principles / suggestions by Alok Kejriwal for entrepreneurs based on his 14 years of experience:
- Be the Coolie – one should not feel shy to do even the smallest task of his / her company
- Find a mentor – it is very critical to identify an appropriate mentor
- Don’t have a destination – don’t be too rigid and one should be flexible to adapt the changing business environment, customer behaviour, competitive scenario etc.
- Hire people better than you & also convey them that they are better than you
- Suffer – the entrepreneurship journey is definitely not a cakewalk
- Never stop looking – always look for opportunities and leverage them
- Dont be obsessed by milestones – Celebrate but move ahead and aim to achieve the larger picture
- Watch out for bad advisors – Its better to not have an advisor than to have a bad one
- Find your skill – Identify your strength and leverage it to the maximum
- Please remain humble – Very important to remain grounded with every success
- Only live for your family – Nothing is more precious than your family, value them
- Meet your heroes – Aim, plan and meet the best people in your industry, the role models and discuss your project with them
- Meditate – Very much needed in this hypercompetitive environment
- Share your idea, doubt, thoughts with others around and see what they think about them
- Be yourself….only yourself!
Retrospectively, these pointers look very simple, but I feel that’s what differentiates between the more successful and not so successful people. Though these look very simple tips, as an entrepreneur think how often you implement these in your life.
I am presently not an entrepreneur but what motivated me to attend this open house session was to grab a few learning from the erstwhile crowd who are soaked in this madness. I did try my hands on entrepreneurship but couldn’t sustain it long and here is why.
At the end of the day, few pointers that stuck my mind were:
a) Doing is what matters. If something is itching you for long, and you believe that you have a solution for it, just go for it before you reach a stage where you repent of not having done it
b) As an entrepreneur be prepared to fail. Learn from your failures and move on, rather than cry over it
c) Meet as many people as you can in the real world and evangelize your business. Alok had the figures that he has collected over 5,000 visiting cards which exhibits the pain he takes in meeting people and introducing his business.
d) Sometimes you fail because you are just early for the market. Hence, timing your entry and exit is very crucial.
e) Quality of service is what differentiates even a product based business from the other. Focus on providing best service to the customers.
In short, I enjoyed the open house to the core and would recommend all entrepreneurs to attend The Rodinhoods Open House sessions whenever you get a chance to do so.
Update: How can I forget this awesome gift by Alok to every Rodinhooder who attended the Open House session. He tirelessly handed over this book to each one of them and clicked an image with them.