These 5 legendary points by one of India Inc’s stalwarts is what every budding entrepreneur must learn by heart

These 5 legendary points by one of India Inc’s stalwarts is what every budding entrepreneur must learn by heartBefore Ericsson’s Innovation Awards felicitated some brilliant young minds once again this year, one of the jury members Mr R Gopalakrishnan had a word of advice for the participants from across the country and all the other aspiring entrepreneurs who had gathered in IIT’s seminar hall to watch the 3-month-long competition’s grand finale on Saturday.

One of India Inc’s most prominent face today, Mr Gopalakrishnan was heard telling students - “It’s wonderful to receive a prize today, it’s wonderful your families will rejoice today but that can last for one day. What you do with this idea later on is very important. If you walk away from here thinking you are a genius who has finally made it, you may be missing out on understanding that you may be a genius who is yet to make it.”

For those who may not be aware of the rich body of work this man has behind him, Mr Gopalakrishnan has worked for the Tatas and Unilever for nearly two decades each. He has played a vital role in providing direction and impetus to Tata Group's forays into potentially viable areas of the new economy.

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On Saturday, the Director of Tata Sons was a part of the jury comprising Ericsson Head of Region for India, Paolo Colella, Vice-Chancellor of IIT Delhi V Ramgopal Rao along with a few others.

Before the students could start presenting their ideas, Mr Gopalakrishnan took to the stage to deliver what looked like yet another pep talk. Just when he began talking, the murmurs lowered down and within the next 5 seconds there was pin-drop silence.


He began - "India is a haven for innovation and entrepreneurship" and from here, his nearly 20-minute power-packed speech had each and everyone glued to the stage.

He gave out 5 legendary lessons that no other corporate honcho will ever fathom to give out as advice to a budding entrepreneur today, but
it’s something he/she must know before taking on the Startup journey:"

1. Innovation and entrepreneurship are nurtured in the face of obstacles and problems

Point being made: The more the obstacles, the greater scope for innovation.

He says - “You cannot find a place with bigger problems than India. Those who get exasperated with India and its problems are actually seeing the same object and coming to the opposite conclusion. You name the problems we have it - how to get to work, how to get a glass of clean water, how to get your kids to school, it’s a country with large number of people and therefore with a larger number of problems. But that’s where the opportunities lie.”

Read about the 4Cs he mentioned to understand after this to understand his point better

2. Your startup won't remain a startup forever

Point being made: Look at your idea/startup as part of the revolutionary process, not a revolution in itself

He says: “Ericsson was started in 1846. It was a startup back then. Mr Lars Ericson must have looked like one of you. What you should remember is that today’s startup will be tomorrow’s grown-up and it takes a lot to go through this journey. Therefore, in the face of media hype and glory around startups, you can't you just get excited to have one of your own. Knowing what to do once you have a company is imperative.

There is a human equivalent to business as well, he explains. “As a child is born, he grows and evolves first and then starts ageing. Same is the case with companies. Please get excited about having a startup, but remember we cannot come out of a maternity ward saying WOW, we have lots of babies, until we know how to give them a good life.”

3. If you are starting a company, it's like having a baby

Point being made: Bringing up a startup is like raising a child. Both need nurturing.

"When an elder comes to visit a family, they bless the child saying Ayushman Bhawa - it means live a long life. Who is going to bless a startup? Nobody is even thinking of its long life. Everyone’s thinking – have valuations and cash out. I am personally not against it, lots of people are making money but if you want to build a big company of your own, Remember - in any society you need a very good maternity ward to have babies safely, schools and colleges where they can study for proper nurturing. Your company will need the same facilities and care."

Citing two examples, he makes his point clear: “Westinghouse who has been conducting science competitions in the US for several years analyzed the data of applicants and inferred: Kids who felt they were gifted failed to make the cut. An American Psychologist Benjamin who studied musicians, sportsmen and scientists observed that the students who did brilliantly have supportive parents, not supermoms."

So don't let success diminish your focus and nurture your startup like it's your baby.

"It’s wonderful to receive a prize, it’s wonderful your families will rejoice today but that can last for one day. What you do with it later on is very important. If you walk away thinking you are a GENIUS who has finally made it, you may be missing out on understanding that you may be a genius who is yet to make it,” he says.

4. A successful startup can only become a successful grown-up if you cater to its soul, not just body

Point being made: You cannot just cater to the body, you have to cater to the soul of a startup

“Every parent’s desire is to see their child become a contributing member of the society. We know we need to ensure good health and a healthy mind for their success, but do we know what to do for our startup companies?”

“The human equivalent here for a company is what I call Corporate Ayurveda. A startup/company has a body and a soul like humans. You cannot just cater to the body, you have to cater to the soul as well. Giving your company good habits, good values, practices like ethics and morality from day 1 really helps.”

"Follow these 4 mantras and then just hope for the best the same way you do when you send your kids to a good school and hope they will come out a responsible child one day.”

- You must have a purpose, the purpose must be a consistent one, you must nurture your startup and cater to the soul of your company,

“Two companies I have happened to work with and I can speak for them are HUL and Tata. In Unilever, William Hesketh Lever who made soaps was asked in 1890:

What is the purpose of your business? He said: I have a long task ahead of me, I have to keep the millions across the world clean and hygienic. 150 years on, HUL is still doing that today.

Similarly, Jamsetji Tata was asked:

Why have you started this business in textile, steel and hydroelectric power? He said - I wanted to create a company which is a part of the community. What it takes from the community, it must return. Tatas are still doing the same thing!”

5. Innovation and entrepreneurship requires you to exhibit a growth mindset

Point being made: It's Ok to seek success, but don’t be fearful of failures on your way. The thorns are as much a part of your journey as roses!

“A growth mindset is - You want success but you are not fearful of failure. A fixed mindset on the other hand is– If you are committed, you must succeed by hook or by crook. You have too much reputation at stake and if you lose its somebody’s fault, not yours. I would tell all of you today as well as the jury here, that it’s the growth mindset we should be looking out for because that’s exactly what can lead to innovation and entrepreneurship.”