Rashmi bansal: Hungry and Foolish Experience

“Sunil Handa can convince you to jump from the top of a 3-storeyed building” says Rashmi Bansal at a guest lecture organised by the Entrepreneurship Cell, IIT Kharagpur. Yes, she was here!

It felt as if Rashmi bansal took it from where Sunil handa ended when he paid a visit to IIT Kharagpur earlier this month.
Rashmi bansal’s book “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish” has crossed the 100,000 copies mark in just 9 months of its release.

She gathered the attention of the full-capacity audience by disapproving the concept of an MBA-degree for being an entrepreneur.
“What we learn in MBA is all common-sense and any graduate from a reputed college/university really doesn’t need to spend two more years with formal college system. As a matter of fact, most of the successful entrepreneurs don’t have MBA-degree rather many of them are college-dropouts. The scene is that most of the MBA degree holders work for big MNC’s in posh parts of the world. The very concept of “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish” was to cover 25 IIM-A graduates who chose to tread the path of their own dreams and in process became successful entrepreneurs. The book just tries to defy the myth that an MBA can’t be an entrepreneur.”

She talked about the “Naukri.com” founder Sanjeev Bikhchandani. Bikhchandani’s idea saw the daylight when once he visited an expo and it immediately striked to him that the “Internet” can be used to commercially exploit the “job-seeker market”. However, this idea didn’t materialize in just few days or months. It took him 3-4 years to get funding; he had this idea of a “Job-advertisement business model” from the days he used to discuss the various openings of “Business India’s Job Ads” with his colleagues.

Rashmi gradually moved to the important aspect of patience and perseverance with entrepreneurship; it may take more than 2-3 years to taste the fruits of success but the hard work should never be ceased. The point is “your idea might be best for you” but you also need to convince the consumer to whom you would be selling that your product is unique and can make their lives better. Something related to alternative energy might not be a hot-selling product but gradually it is bound to get acceptance and approval so have patience and have a “10 year target”; project your growth strategy for 10 years and work efficiently towards it.

After your “start-up” gets across the initial barrier of “doing good business” it can either become a big venture or a small enterprise but we all need to compromise with few things and as it goes “Small is beautiful”. Happiness and money are not always interrelated. If you are lucky you might end up being the other “Narendra Madhusudhan Murkumbi (Shree Renuka Sugars)”. Rashmi Bansal also threw some light on the “Murkumbi-billionaire story”, which is not about any new IT innovation but a result of smart business strategy. Her words echoed my thoughts “Innovation is not about doing something new but doing the same thing in a new and efficient manner.” Every Idea is a good idea till you give your commitment and have smart ways to tackle and manoeuvre your way out of troubles in your entrepreneurial path.

The “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish” author also discussed about an IIT-Guwahati guy who convinced private car owners to carry advertisements on their valuable asset for anything between 25 Paise to 1 Rupee. He used an orkut community for his initial research while he was studying at IIT. This example of this entrepreneur gives us a strong message that online presence though necessary should be used primarily for advertisement, marketing and market research rather than creating a web-portal and following the cliché-path.

Even after all this valuable experiences and “entrepreneurship-gyan”, you may fail to achieve what you aspired for but you shouldn’t lose your enthusiasm and stop your entrepreneurial pursuit just because of fear; fear of failing. And as the famous saying goes, “The fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself”.
Most business failures are a result of interpersonal problems between partners. This leads us to a very important aspect of entrepreneurship, the “choice of partner”. Ideally partners should complement each other and drive the venture forward.

She talked about the importance of career counselling by citing her experience. Later, she started shifting her focus towards personality development and “listening to our inner call”.

“Many people have no idea whatsoever about what and why they are doing. We should fall in love with our business-idea and try to be an expert in that.” Now, she plunges into her personal experiences and says how she used to write a lot about various careers and eventually joined TOI for 2 years. Daughter of a scientist, Rashmi bansal completed her graduation in economics from Sophia College, Mumbai and further studied at IIM- Ahmedabad.

After working for TOI, she started JAM- youth magazine attributed to her childhood interests of reading a book daily and sending articles for the editorial section of newspapers when she was a college student. JAM was started with a modest "50,000 Rupees" capital investment in the servant room with the purchase of a computer. She along with few other people designed a dummy 16 page magazine and tried to strike deals with companies for advertisement spaces in JAM-magazine. Pepe was the first sponsor. The lesson learnt by Rashmi was that you do not need to have a venture capitalist funding your innovation but constraint of resources takes out the best from a person. She has learnt everything from “0”. Success should have a personal definition.

She knew that writing is her passion and after “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish” she realizes that her purpose in life was writing this book.

FYI, Rashmi Bansal's next book is coming in next 2 months.

She bid adieu to us by saying that we must and are capable of doing few crazy things in our life so why not be an entrepreneur and “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish”?