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In this book, Rashmi Bansal, herself an alumnus of IIMA, describes how .. Sanjeev decided to shut down every other activity - no more reports, no more The financial debt is cleared, we are debt-free today, but it is a very humbling. Editorial Reviews. About the Author. Rashmi Bansal writer entrepreneur and youth expert. She is cofounder and editor of JAM,India's leading youth magazine in. Stay Hungry Stay Foolish PDF by Rashmi Bansal | Download Ebook Now! [ Download PDF] Rashmi Bansal is a youth expert and a writer from India. The ABC Murders PDF - Agatha Christie | Download Ebook Free.
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Kind of like what happens in life. You make a plan, even a roadmap. But there could be a vehicle coming at you at full speed from right around the bend. Vinayak Chatterjee has faced these bends with courage and recovered from accidents of fate. Feedback Ventures had a near death experience. Not once, but three times. Each time Vinayak managed to save it from extinction and hang in there, eventually taking the company to new heights.
Vinayak's story tells you that ability matters, determin- ation matters, but ultimately so does destiny. When life deals you a rough hand, it's not about how smart you are but how many people out there believe in you.
It's the relationships you've built and the trust you've deposited in the Goodwill Bank which you will draw on. To get that second lease of life. His father was a production supervisor in a jute factory. My mother was a lecturer in Calcutta University, she taught economics and political science. So a reasonably middle class life, very small town upbringing, only child. After schooling in Calcutta, Vinayak decided to go to Delhi for higher studies.
I am talking about the mid '70s. In any case, because I lived far away, I had to stay in a hostel. I had some seniors, cousins from whom I had heard of St Stephen's. I applied and got in. Instead of being diffident about it, Vinayak meshed in extremely well there, forged some deep friendships and became extremely confident.
Certainly a valuable three years! The prevailing value system in a middle class Bengali family for a child who does economics is to emulate Amartya Sen. Vinayak would have been happy enough to complete graduation and then go on to the Delhi School of Economics. But then there was the dilemma: But if you don't go take admission to IIMA, you are closing the gate. Take a look! Not for the grades and all that but for the quality of what I thought were puerile courses. He enjoyed courses such as business policy and marketing which had a wider perspective.
But Vinayak still didn't know what he wanted to do in life. It was a high profile job and Vinayak took the pre-placement offer that came his way.
Two weeks after getting the confirmation letter, Vinayak told his boss he wanted to resign.
I can't put a finger on it even now. But I just didn't feel my job had any content. It meant nothing. I looked at myself in the mirror and said that if these products don't mean anything to me, I am probably being untrue both to myself as well as to my employers to hang around in the job. But Vinayak was clear about what he didn't want. Which is a start. I am an only child. They said, we told you to go to D School and do economics. Why did you go to IIMA and chase this The truth is, it all just happened.
In hindsight, you can call it strategy. But it was important to do something. Something respectable. Vinayak had always enjoyed writing. So he thought why not combine the business degree with journalism? And an offer from Ashok Advani, to become the Bombay correspondent for the recently set up Business India. So there is no hurry to take up a job. I chose the business policy area and started library work. Professor VL Mote called Vinayak to his house.
And there he met Raunaq Singh, chairman of the Apollo group. Vinayak hadn't heard of him back then. Prof Mote introduced Raunaq, saying he has a company called Apollo Tyres which is badly in debt because the government had nationalised it. There is a long history to this - the company was given back to the family after a Supreme Court judgement in But essentially, the chairman wanted an MBA to turn around the company. The other half was still not clear what I wanted to do with life.
But picking up ideas, picking up opportunities, some being created, some coming my way, picking, moving on. The next three years - to - were extremely challenging. Because in those years, Apollo Tyres actually turned around.
The work was hectic but satisfying. Very different from selling more cold cream. This was all about being part of the big picture - getting your hands dirty, taking small and big decisions which re-engineered the very DNA of the company. Revamping 22 branch offices, product development, marketing.
There was a lot of environment management in those days - licensing, pacing the corridors for loans from IDBI, industry meetings, tyre industry associations. I got dhakkaoed but I learnt a lot. In many senses, Apollo Tyres was my finishing school. They grounded me in practical management ki Hindustan mein business chalaane mein kya hota hai.
The other thing was that having seen the world top-down, from the chairman's office, Vinayak realised that he still wasn't excited by the proverbial rat race. So what? And that's what sparked the idea of becoming an entrepreneur.
It was she who brought to his notice a business opportunity. It was the first real competition IMRB had tasted. By this time Vinayak felt it was time to do something new. He was all of I am not a details guy.
I am better at strategy, marketing and networking than operations. Also his wife Rumjhum, who was a Calcutta University psychology graduate. Each member of the team brought in some special skills. He is the current vice chairman of Feedback Ventures. Jain and Rashmi Malik are no longer with the company.
The team decided that starting a market research firm made sense and put in Rs. That name has stayed, though the company has nothing to do with marketing anymore.
The first thing the young entrepreneurs did was meet Prakash Tandon and ask him to be their honorary chairman. To celebrate this, Feedback threw a large party and blew up half of its initial capital! But luckily, clients were not hard to find. Batchmates from IIMA had reached managerial level. Someone was with Nestle, somebody in AmEx. Market research projects started coming in. The market research business… but you know in this line, events overtake you. Serendipity, not well chalked out strategy.
Will you do it? Feedback went in as market research consultants. So we ended up building a factory. Then word spread that this group of guys from IIMA, professional ethical chaps are available to do this kind of work. Narasimha Rao was the Prime Minister, India was opening up. FDI had just started coming in and with delicensing, many new multinationals were entering the country.
Feedback helped set up the Coca Cola plant, General Motors plant and several other industrial plants. And the business model shifted. Feedback vacated the market research space to focus on setting up factories. We were number four in the country, with branch offices, good clients.
It was a good business but we somehow got more excited by the projects story. Soap ka colour, toothpaste ka taste - that kind of thing.
But to get into land, FIPB, industrial policy, civil engineering, machinery clearances, import licenses - the value chain seemed far more exciting and interesting. Money is a by-product. Business growth, turnover, bottomline is a by product of what your heart and head want you to do. So if you follow that, money will follow. Woh Gandhi waali baat hai. Unless it's a stupid idea! The switch to projects happened easily and naturally for Feedback, there was no real sacrifice involved.
Word spread and work flowed in. Then a state government heard about Feedback. So by the mid nineties, we got into industrial parks from factories. The plan is to ramp up to 5, in the next years. But surely there must have been some bumps on this road? Some tipping point? And that happened because of a meeting with Mr Deepak Parekh. And he, in many senses, has been a mentor for me, personally, as well as for the company. But it doesn't force you to work for anybody else.
It's an education degree, that's all. These are the two biggest shareholders and the chairman is common - Deepak Parekh. And he took a lot of interest in Feedback, guided the company, suggested it should go for private equity.
One piece of advice from him which Feedback took was: And it wasn't so fashionable back then either. Factory banaa rahe the. But is it necessary to vacate an existing space to capture a new one?
Don't many companies somehow manage both? Well, many do but Feedback has always just moved from one thing to the next. We are putting up 5, kms of roads and SEZs, even hospitals.
We do advisory but our biggest volume business now is engineering. We have engineers and we do everything from fundamental engineering and designing to construction, supervision and project management. Consulting comes easy to MBAs, but hardcore engineering and execution of mega projects is a whole different cup of coffee.
How did that happen? The company was called HSS Integrated. Basically, they brought in pre-qualification, or PQ, and in a few years Feedback bought them out. The question is which came first, the chicken or the egg? The infrastructure position or the JV?
There is something called destiny also that comes into play. Of course, one has to be a little opportunistic. We didn't think that much. With 5, kilometers of roads, bridges and industrial parks to its credit. Is that a conscious choice? We don't require brand equity more than that. I can't even handle the traffic today - my order books are bursting.
Increase market penetration, market share, market size in existing lines of business. But it wasn't a smooth ride all the way. There was, in fact, a point when the company almost shut down. We had negative cash flows. And Parekh lowered a lifeline. Some divisions were shut, people were asked to leave.
Also the transition from advisory to infrastructure was not taken very kindly by some of the senior management. To cut a long story short, three times in its history, for reasons of bad business planning, or wrong decisions, Feedback came close to liquidation. If some friends or institutional assistance had not bailed the company out, put in money without any security or collateral, purely on faith Feedback would have been history.
The financial debt is cleared, we are debt-free today, but it is a very humbling experience. But if you are honest to your purpose, you've never cheated anybody and you show clear focus, commitment, there are people in society who will go out of their way to back you.
Of course, there were hard decisions but always a sense of fair play. Sab ka salary kaata.
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Each time the mistake was a different one? Then at one point we got tempted to think we could be developers. So we took a license to develop a acre township, put a lot of time and effort behind it and then realised that we were inadequately capitalised.
Everybody can't do everything. And we realised that it was not in our DNA to be a developer. Each time it was tough. But once you come out of it, you are stronger. But every entrepreneur I meet scoffs at the idea.
At most the partners would lose the Rs. A reasonable amount in those days but well worth it. There was no livelihood risk - jobs would always be available. And a year blip in your early 20s would hardly mean losing the rat race. We just decided to be thick skinned about it.
I am more than my visiting card or salary slip. There was excessive hype and glamour about multinationals but I just never got what's so great about selling Dreamflower talc in rural India. I care a damn! And that applies to just about anything.
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Joh karna hai tumhe zindagi mein, woh karo. If your inner voice says you really love the rat race and can be great in the rat race, please do it. Just don't attach any value systems to it. Many of my batchmates have made great careers for themselves, built great brand equity, done well as global managers. If your inner voice says, that's my route, go for it!
If your inner voice says, my route is social entrepreneurship, do it. If your inner voice says, I want to be an author, journalist, write books, please do it!
Stay Hungry Stay Foolish
And look at the brand equity that he has today. What I find is many people hear that inner voice but just don't have the conviction to act upon it. Don't get too concerned about peer pressure. You may be successful, you may be unsuccessful, but in the philosophical market, what is success and what is failure? I don't want to put a premium on entrepreneurship. It's not a fad or fashion to follow. So my only piece of advice is find purpose, means will follow.
Life's journey will take you wherever it is. Don't worry about the fruits. Woh Geeta wali baat hai - nishkaam karmayoga - duty without desire But be prepared to stick it out.
Remember Narayana Murthy's quote: That is the story of Mastek. Mastek may not be the biggest Indian IT company in terms of size or scale, but it is certainly one with a lesson for many an entrepreneur wanting to start a company with his college buddies.
More than friends getting together though, it is friends staying together for 25 years that is intriguing. Because partnerships which endure are such a rare thing in today's world! Many a dream is born on an IIM campus, only to die out when faced with the real world. However Ashank, Ketan and Sundar kept that dream alive and made it happen.
What's more they did this in an era when it took, on average, 15 years to get a telephone connection. And you could start an IT company, but forget about owning a PC. But life in the Doordarshan era was kinder and gentler. There was less pressure to perform, and leeway to make some mistakes. The team was young and flexible, and figured out a way. And they had patience, which is another commodity in short supply today! I may not have managed to smuggle out anything of value to customs, but two hours with Ashank left me feeling richer for the experience.
Yet he had the keeda of entrepreneurship somewhere, at the back of his mind. This was in the year There are always stories about how rock bands get formed. And it's the same with companies. How do the founders actually come together? Usually they are classmates, colleagues or old friends. The group would sit and discuss what kind of venture they could take up after passing out. So inspiration, advice, contacts, all that happened in IIMA.
Their interest in the project indicated to the team that they were on the right track. Of course, there was this feeling that it's fine to plan but once you get a job, once you get married, all this will be over.
Yet somehow they managed to keep the spark alive. Ashank's employer, Godrej, offered the advantage of a house. So the friends literally 'stayed together'. The flatmates spent most nights chatting away till 2 am, discussing their business plans.
But finally they settled on IT because it required less investment, no manufacturing and also, it was a field they were comfortable with. The other big decision was to be based in Mumbai, for reasons of both head and heart.
But did Mastek actually see the full potential of IT? The way in which it would transform all our lives? Yes and no. But they did know IT was important to companies at a strategic level; software as a field would grow. By this time Ashank was married and so he was the last to quit, six months later.
Mastek was born in Ghatkopar, where Ketan had a house. The total investment was Rs 15, Business started coming in through friends and contacts.
It was a classic management problem. Richardson Hindustan were manufacturers of Vicks. The dilemma they faced was whether to manufacture in advance and stock goods or produce just in time. There were costs and benefits associated with each option. They're young and might have a fresh approach. I am very proud of that, although it is so small compared to our size as a company today.
But I still feel good about it and in fact, I talk about that example when I address new recruits. Luckily, Wasan was good at that. That first contract was worth Rs 30, and also fetched Mastek a bonus for completing the work ahead of time.
Like many other MBAs who take up entrepreneurship, Mastek capitalised on the intellectual capital of its founding team to get into the game. How you leverage this advantage and take the company to the next level is the crux of every success story. It was a 35 square foot office, but it was in the prestigious Mittal Towers. The other problem was that there was no phone in Ghatkopar, it used to take 15 years to get a connection in those days!
A jeweller friend agreed to take their calls, but he stopped when there were one too many! We did not have a computer for the first five years, can you imagine that? The business was executed at the customer's office, on their machines.
Like all new businesses, it took time to stabilise. We were not earning money At this point, friends and batchmates working for multinational companies were 'moving up in life' while the Mastek team was travelling second class. So, once in a while, the thought of closing down and getting back to a job did come to mind. But what carried the team was two things - moral support from the family and the vision of building an institution.
Mastek had, in fact, started hiring people soon after it started operations. One of the important people who joined Mastek early on was Sudhakar. He was working with Rediffusion, a client of Mastek, and was so impressed with the young company that he asked to come on board as a partner. Meanwhile one of the founders, Wasan, moved on. The PC had just been launched and Mastek was the only software company to advertise there.
The company bagged orders from companies like Citibank and Hindustan Lever through its visibility at this event. So Mastek started getting some kind of traction in the market and somewhere, the IIM brand also helped. You can see some longer period in terms of business.
Some profit, or at least a breakeven. By year six, Mastek was in Dataquest magazine's list of top software companies in the domestic market. The company was ranked 6. We are not small now! Where to, from here? Ashank believes there is a difference in the trajectory followed by Mastek, compared to other software companies. It introduced both financial accounting and stock broking packages.
Selling these packages, as well as custom made software, made for a sound business. But it was clear that high growth would be possible only through exports. The question was, how does one crack the overseas market? In time some banks started giving credit against invoices.
Neither did it have a family or friends network in the US. In fact, it took 10 years. Ashank was the first person from Mastek to go abroad. It was a big thing; he recalls, all his colleagues came to drop him at the airport as he boarded the flight to Singapore! The bug was to do something different, to build complete solutions for the global markets. But the faith was well placed this time. Its shares were sold at a 60 rupee premium.
Yet people had faith and invested. Mastek itself strongly believed in the domestic market. The company's approach was to build products and solutions which were IT based, launch successfully in India and then take them to the world market. It did not quite happen that way, but that was the operating philosophy. What happened was that the Indian market opened up to foreign software.
Well, that capital was not linked to the development of a particular product so the world did not come crashing down. There is a point in the life of a company when it just takes off. By the end of that year, the company was doing Rs crores. Exports were booming and so was the domestic market.
Financially, life became comfortable, there was no everyday struggle or problems in paying the promoters a fair amount. This comfort is an important turning point in the life of an entrepreneur. Ashank still recalls the book he would carry around, with details of how much money was to be collected and from whom.
There was no finance available from banks for software, where there are no physical assets to pledge. The other strategy was to divide the project into many micro steps so that every delivery gets some money. In time, some banks started giving credit against invoices.
The next phase from '95 to was one where the company focussed on exports. One of the partners, Sundar, practically settled in the US to make this happen. Ketan and Sudhakar were busy building the software, the team and the organisation as a whole.
You have to keep reinventing yourself. Ultimately all of us do what we do, because we like it. Yes, if you take a normal family life, ours was definitely not balanced I took my first holiday 15 years after starting Mastek!
Software exports became a larger cause and that helped the whole industry, including Mastek. No outside consultants were involved, it was all done by the founding team. Ashank was passionate about HR while Sudhakar and Ketan put into place the software development side of it. Take the appraisal system, for example. It came into being in when the company was relatively young, with just people.
In software development, this manifested in things like ISO Then came the very important concept of financial discipline. The idea being that an organisation has to run through systems and processes, in a predictable way, without human interference.
This showed lack of discipline. My programmer should be the project leader. He should automatically collect money because he is responsible for it. So we built those systems and processes as well as motivation and incentive for everyone to take charge of financing, cost.
And of course, IT was put to good use to make it easy for all this to happen at the click of a button or two. The top management could keep track of what was happening. Powered by strategy, systems and new markets to conquer, by the year , Mastek achieved a turnover of Rs crores with 1, employees on board. Mastek has consistently ranked among the top in the software industry. Of course, keeping one's place itself is a challenge because in IT, technology is ever changing.
However, Mastek was able to keep up with the times and the arrival of the internet, for example, impacted the company positively.
As a solutions company, Mastek had built a lot of work in the internet domain much before any other Indian company, including a tool called JAAL. So the company did a lot of work for dotcom companies but, unfortunately, also lost a fair bit of money when most of these companies went down the tube in However, Ashank has no regrets.
In fact, he recalls, it was a conscious decision to stay away from Y2K work and focus on the internet and new technologies which were more challenging. The point is, the bar keeps moving and you have to move with it. Technologies change, customer requirements change and your old software gets obsolete in no time.
The other challenge was handling many different things. As the Indian market for software was relatively small, it made sense for Mastek to keep its fingers in many pies to stay profitable. However, once you enter the global arena, it's a much bigger market. There you can focus and be number one in a specific area. So, there is less turbulence in what you do. When you are small, you have to do 20 different things.
Smallness adds to the complexity of operations. The company was trying to figure out what worked best for it. With time there came focus but the question is who decides what to focus on?
There is sometimes a fight Sometimes we agree to disagree. Kindle Edition File Size: Hindi ASIN: Not Enabled Screen Reader: Supported Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled Average Customer Review: Customers who viewed this item also viewed. Stay Hungry Stay Foolish. Preeti Shenoy. Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish. Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a product review. Customer images. See all customer images.
Top Reviews Most recent Top Reviews. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. Reason is very simple. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. I have read starting chapters of this book and I totally hate it. Reason is very simple: Since I am neither of those 2 , I don't feel connected by this book.
The book is fantastic but the paper quality is pathetic. I returned after opening it just once.. I finally got hold of the older version from a friend which had good paper quality.
The paper seems to be a 10 times recycled paper. I suggest buy the hardcover version if available. I somewhere saw that a Rs. Rashid Raza Narrator. Amish Tripathi. Shaheen Khan Reading. Smita Singh Reading. To add more books, click here. Welcome back. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account.
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