TECH TALK: Life as an Entrepreneur: Innovation

An entrepreneur’s brain needs to be constantly active. Good ideas do not come between 9 am and 5 pm, Monday to Friday. I was driving home from work the other night when I found my car behind a horse- carriage. Instead of the normal seating for four people which the few remaining horse- carriages in Mumbai have, this one was different. It did have the seating for four, but in a circular moving merry-go-around. It was the first time I had seen something like this. It had all the makings of an entrepreneur at work.

For entrepreneurs, the conventional approaches don’t exactly work. At the early stages when one in trying to build a business, few ideas from how large businesses go about doing things work. Talking to friends who work to the top-notch MNCs won’t give a clue on how to fight the battle in the trenches. Putting up ads in newspapers are out of the question because they are way too expensive. This is where entrepreneurs need to think differently. Like the “owner-manager” of that horse-carriage.

When IndiaWorld was launched in March 1995, there was no press conference in a five-star hotel. Emails were sent out to friends, postings were done on newsgroups, a press release was sent out.

Externalities can help get a person once to the website, but only its quality will get repeat visitors and loyalty. A lot of attention was paid to the product and customer feedback. We had a potpourri of content which was updated daily – something fresh to ensure that people come back again tomorrow. Every email that came in was replied to. There was a realisation that if people liked it they would naturally tell their friends. This is exactly what happened. Many-a-time, we think about everything else except what we should be concentrating on! Not having a blank cheque makes one thing harder about the real business at hand, rather than the hype.

Innovation also means trying out many different things. Some will work, others will fail. But unless one tries out things, one will not know. More importantly, new doors only open when takes steps in different directions, and closes some others. In IndiaWorld, we launched 13 sites. Only 4 of them worked well. But if we had hesitated from launching the new sites, we would not have know got those 4 winners. As an entrepreneur, one has to put away the fear of failure and think: what would you do if you were not afraid?

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.