Image Courtesy – www.cower.me
Who doesn’t know about these 4 golden words.. They were originally printed on the back cover of the 1974 edition of The Whole Earth Catalog, and further immortalized by the legendary Steve Jobs during his 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech.. These 4 words have changed the way people think, across the globe..
At the face of it, the word “Hunger” stands for Curiosity.. While “Foolish”, unlike otherwise implying to be Dumb, ironically stands for the readiness to Learn and Un-Learn..
But what is the message conveyed here??
Is the true meaning behind it as simple as the words themselves read??
How does one stay Hungry & Foolish??
And most importantly, how does it help to be that way??
Having sworn by these words personally, I will try to answer these questions by taking a cue from my own experiences..
Funding, VC, Business Plan, Incubator, Elevator Pitch & 36,900 other such words
Image Courtesy – www.angelinvestmentnetwork.net
It was the first week of November 2011.. I had just launched my startup website MoneyLeo.com, and was looking for ways to promote the site and get some foot-fall for it..
From the knowledge that I had, I kick-started some initial online marketing initiatives of setting-up a Google AdWords account, starting a Facebook Ads Campaign & setting-up various Social Handles etc..
After a month of playing around and experimenting with various techniques and blowing-away some thousands, I hadn’t received the kind of response that I had wished for.. It was like hitting a roadblock.. I soon realized that there is need for some expert intervention.. This was around the first week of December 2011..
MoneyLeo being my first online venture, I had no prior knowledge on how an online business is run, or what are the factors that drive it.. So with the limited understanding that I had about marketing, I started looking for Advertising Agencies that could help me market my website, and even met a couple of them.. But as I started to dig deep, I realized that they were not the right choice for a startup in its nascent stage and that their services will burn a big hole in my pocket.. Not that I was short of money, but it was not a wise move.. From my 7 years of experience in running an offline business, and belonging to a Sindhi business family, I knew the value of every penny..
So here I was, standing in front of yet another roadblock.. And I was desperately looking for ways around the situation, and get MoneyLeo on the right track.. It was at this time when I had my first brush with words like Funding, VC, Business Plan, Incubator & Elevator Pitch etc.. While I got a decent idea about what they meant, it was the word Incubator that caught my attention.. I started spending hours on Google, reading every possible article to understand what these companies are, how exactly they function, what’s in it for them, why they do what they do and how it would benefit them.. And after thorough introspection, I realized that MoneyLeo indeed needed an Incubator, a Mentor, who can streamline things and give the website a logical direction..
- Keep Experimenting, with whatever little knowledge you have..
- Search, Search, Search.. The answer is out there, somewhere..
- Learn from the mistakes of your Experiments, and Evolve..
- Be willing to sometimes hand-over Control and watch from the Pillion..
For those who don’t know, TheMorpheus is an Incubator/Accelerator, founded by Sameer Guglani and Nandini Hirianniah, who had successfully exited their company Madhouse Media with acquisition from SeventyMM in 2007.. They have “TheMorpheus Gang”, as they call it, consisting of 56 active startups and 130+ founders, as mentioned on their website.. They invite applications from Startups, once every six months, to enroll with them for mentoring.. And after a rigorous selection process, they shortlist 8-10 startups and help them with various aspects ranging from Product, Marketing, Development & Funding.. They have also famously acquired the title of being the Y-Combinator of India..
After researching a lot about Incubators, and after getting royally confused about which one to choose, I landed-up on the website of TheMorpheus on 12th of December 2011.. Now while I was trying to Apply with them, to my horror, I figured out that the last date for submission of applications was the 3rd of December 2011, and that by now their screening process would have already begun.. Also, the next batch would take another 6 months to start..
I did not have the time and neither did I want to go search for another Incubator, as I had read some pretty good things about them.. So I decided to write a mail to them anyways.. And as expected, the answer that I got was a NO.. Here’s the first Email and the reply that I received,
> —–Original Message—–
> From: Sameer Guglani <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Date: Mon, 12 Dec 2011 18:57:03
> To: <email@example.com>
> Cc: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Subject: Re: Are you still accepting Batch 7 Applications ??
> we are no longer accepting new applications. Applications for next batch will be accepted from 1 May 2012 & the batch will start around July 2012
> On Tuesday, December 12, 2011, Vijay Khubchandani <email@example.com> wrote:
> > Dear Morpheus Team,
> > With respect to the subject line, would like to know if you guys are still accepting Applications for your Batch 7 ??
> > If Yes, will filling the Application Form on your website suffice ??
> > If No, when will you start accepting Applications for the next Batch ??
> > Additionally, I could not locate the physical Location/Office/Workshop address of your company..
>> Can you help me with it ??
> > I am based out of Mumbai..
> > Thanks & Regards
> > Vijay Khubchandani
I was initially disappointed at receiving this.. But somehow Entrepreneurs are born with eardrums that cannot register a NO.. And unperturbed by the response, I still wanted to give it one more try.. So I shot one more mail to them, this time explaining my venture a little bit, to see if an exception can be made.. And finally the persistence paid-off, and they gave me a chance.. Here are the second round of Emails and the reply that I received,
> —–Original Message—–
> From: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Subject: Re: Are you still accepting Batch 7 Applications ??
> Date: Tue, 13 Dec 2011 15:35:40 +0530
> To: email@example.com
> CC: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
> vijay, we’ve discussed this internally. please go ahead and send in your submission. please do the same by the end of > tomorrow.
> – Sent from my iPad / pls ignore typos
> On Dec 13, 2011, at 14:05, Vijay Khubchandani <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> Dear Sameer,
>> With regards to our earlier communication, would like to give you a brief BIO of my start-up which might >> intrigue you to give me a chance..
>> MoneyLeo.com is a Mumbai based start-up which allows its users to Compare and Apply for Home Loans, >> Mortgage Loans, Education Loans & Loan Against Securities of various Private Banks.. The pain-point / core >> issue of the User that MoneyLeo tries to address is that a User can Compare, Filter & Narrow down to applying >> for a Loan with only those private banks under whose Criteria the User best fits-in and avoid applying with >> the rest. Thus saving Time, Money & Effort for the User..
>> MoneyLeo is currently offering services only in Mumbai, but would like to expand & extend its services to major >> metropolitan cities in India where Users have a Higher Income band and are techno-savvy who would love to >> use such a service..
>> I am primarily looking for mentoring advice on how to take my start-up further ahead from here.. Also whether a >> Venture funding is absolutely required at this stage or NO?? And if Not then for how long should I fund it from >> my own resources and so on.. I hope you get an idea of my dilemma..
>> Please reply back if you can still accommodate me in your upcoming Batch 7 scheduled on January 2nd as I >> stumbled upon your company website just a day back and wasn’t aware of the deadlines..
>> Awaiting you reply..
>> Thanks & Regards
>> Vijay Khubchandani
- Be Impatient, ask lots and lots of Questions..
- Don’t settle with NO for an answer.. Persistence is a virtue..
TiE and TheRodinhoods
I am sure every Entrepreneur comes face to face with the words Funding, VC, Business Plan, Incubator and Elevator Pitch, at one point or the other, during their startup journey.. On googling these words, one can get a fair idea about what they mean.. But merely knowing the dictionary definition is not enough.. It requires one to have a deep Inquisitiveness, to better understand what they stand for.. It requires one to read a lot of material related to the subject, in the form of Blogs, Forums and News Articles.. Not to mention, it takes a lot of Time and Patience too.. But is all this still enough?? The answer is a NO..
It is further required on the part of an Entrepreneur to talk with People who have been there done that, and who know exactly what it means.. To meet with Stalwarts of the Industry and interact with like-minded People.. One must use these words in a dialogue, where one thinks it is apt, in front of a relevant audience, without worrying about being wrong or sounding stupid.. This not only validates what one has come to understand about these words, but also strengthens the foundation of these words in ones’ mind.. Carrying notions of Know-It-All or What-If-I-am-Wrong, are both not good for a startup.. It is really advisable to attend Events, Meetings and Workshops related to your Industry..
Now, two Communities that helped me achieve the above goals, are TheIndusEntrepreneurs (TiE) and TheRodinhoods.. Both have given me tremendous insights into the startup world, and most importantly, some really awesome Friends..
- Make Friends, meet new People, Interact.. Knowledge is everywhere, just go get it..
- Speak it out, make Mistakes, sound Foolish.. In the end, you will emerge Wiser..
TiE had organized this event called as SmashUp, for startups, earlier in 2012.. And while attending one of the workshops at this event, I happened to introduce myself and ask the Faculty a witty question.. Then during one of the Refreshments break, the Director of Product & Development for Rediff.com walked-up to me and offered me a pan-India business tie-up with Rediff.. It is by far the best thing to happen for MoneyLeo till date.. If it hadn’t been for that question, he would have never known about me.. And this is one of the best and most tangible example that I can give you, about the benefits of interacting & being part of communities like the TiE & TheRodinhoods..
– Ask Questions.. Get noticed..
- Ask Questions.. They are like Prayers, which get Answered..
While TheMorpheus guys thought that they would not be able to add much value to my venture, there is this fast emerging Incubator Company called TheHatch, which saw potential in MoneyLeo and agreed to mentor us, and also made MoneyLeo, one of their Portfolio companies.. Here is the link to that..
- There’s always a second chance..
- Be ready to Learn and Unlearn..
Among all the other Hungry & Foolish attempts that I made to promote my startup, and from all the wonderful people that I met, I incidentally also landed myself some really kind and appreciative words in the form of News releases.. These media coverage’s really help in boosting the morale and visibility of a startup.. Here are a few,
TechInAsia.com – http://www.techinasia.com/moneyleo/
StartupFreak – http://www.startupfreak.com/vijay-of-moneyleo-com/
Now I believe that everybody have got their own Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish stories.. And if you have had experiences, where being Hungry & Foolish have helped you, do share it here..
Till then – Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish, Start Up..
Dedicated to my Teacher – Steve Jobs (R.I.P.)
Image Courtesy – www.wikipedia.org
Originally posted on TheRodinhoods..