I don’t particularly like looking back I’d rather look ahead. In fact, that was my first reaction to Radhika when she asked if she could interview me. My second reaction was: just read my blog, especially the articles on entrepreneurship, and they’d give her some insights. But journalists don’t easily take No for answer…
Peering into the past brings up various memories some pleasant, some not so pleasant. But as time passes, one tends to have a somewhat more objective view of the events and one’s actions during that period. I do have plenty of notes of the five IndiaWorld years, but I’ve never once looked back to those. Just before meeting with Radhika, I had outlined some memories of that period and that is what I’d like to share here. It will perhaps give a little flavour into both the period and the mind of an entrepreneur.
IndiaWorld started after multiple business failures. At that time, I was hoping to build a business which worked and made some profits I was tired of two years of losing money every month. I had no idea whether it would work just a belief that the Internet was going to be big, and building an India-centric portal seemed like a good way to leverage my own knowledge of what Indians abroad wanted and get us started into the Net game.
[When I think about that period and now, I see lots of similarities. Like then, I am now trying to venture into the unknown for me, and armed with a vision of tomorrow and an inner belief that the future the one I am thinking of has to be built. How will we make money? I don’t know. What I do know is that once we start, multiple doors will open up and we have to then be smart about choosing the right pathways going forward.]
The first few months were about getting the content in place. I wrote to plenty of publications and content owners. Most didn’t reply. The one big publisher who did was India Today’s Aroon Purie. I still remember the first fleeting meeting I had with him when I visited Delhi. I knew I had only one opportunity to sell and I couldn’t fail. India Today was one of the must-reads for NRIs I had to have it on IndiaWorld. At moments like this, it is an entrepreneur’s passion that has to shine through. This is what I meant when I told Radhika:
You have to distinguish between those who go in there motivated only by money and those who go in to change the world. An entrepreneur has to have a little bit of the ‘change the world’ thing in him. If I have to get my passion across, I have to believe that what I am doing is the next big thing. If I don’t believe in it how will I convince others? So you have to paint that picture of tomorrow.
Time and again, I would paint the vision of a connected world to people I’d meet about how the Internet would transform everything. My belief in it had to be complete, else there was no way I’d be able to convince others. Passion is an entrepreneur’s greatest asset, and that will only surface when one truly believes in the vision and that vision cannot just be about striking it rich one day. It has to be about transformation and revolution, it has to be how the entrepreneur will ‘change the world.’
Tomorrow: Memories and Experiences