Fireside Chat with Sanjeev Bikhchandani of Naukri.com — #TiECon Lahore

“Waqas don’t lose money on sales. E-commerce is more about commerce and less about ‘E’ thing.”

This is the first thing I learned yesterday from Sanjeev Bikhchandani, while he handed over me his business card. He is founder of naukri.com a company he founded in March 1997, now he serves as the founder and executive vice chairman of InfoEdge India, a traded Internet company valued at $700 Million.

I and Sidra, were especially interested in his story of building a company from scratch. And we learned quite a lot.

Today he was talking to young (& some old) entrepreneurs, at an event by TiECon Lahore. This was actually a conversation between Sanjeev and Monis Rehaman (CEO of Rozee.pk). The conversation was very interesting and thoughtful, that is what you expect when two leaders of recruitment portal sit together. Sanjeev shares his experiences and lessons to entrepreneurs distilled from his experience of building naukri.com and other startups where he advises and invest.

See the points below, I am just putting them in bullets:

  • The best way to build a company is: find an unsolved problem and build a business around it. That is the best way.
  • Don’t start startup just for the sake of big valuations to raise maximum funding. It’ll lead you to nothing, instead focus on building a pure business first.
  • Great companies are built out of competitions.
  • For the first 6 months of naukri.com I hadn’t any computer. I was doing a job at 5k and a computer was priced at 100k those days, so I was using this computer of my friend. And he would let me use it from 10pm till 4am.
  • I was fortunate to have customer insight of the business I was starting, so it was a big advantage at then. If you get to have a customer insight, then you don’t have to spend lot of time and energy on market research.
  • Avail the opportunity to max. Example: I had data of the HR managers of 100s of companies, so we built a mailing list and started writing them why naukri.com is right channel for them. It worked!
  • Know the value of money, spend it wisely in business. We rejected an investor who was encouraging us to spend all his investment in advertising, and that too within 6 months. So we instead, found out someone who had approach like us and accepted their investment.
  • I learned how hard it was to raise the revenue through Internet, in early days.
  • When the company was expending, we hired really good guys. Things didn’t end there, I accept the reality that I shouldn’t be the only one to make all decision, as I was doing for past few years. We gave this new talent the decision power and supported within company. This all lead to progress.
  • I approached to a guy who could build a software for us, it was his first time to make such a software to integrate with our site, and I had no money to pay him. So instead of spending time on raising money, I shared equity with him. It worked very well.
  •  I was approaching to the right kind of people at right time. Like, when I needed a programmer: I did not go for any big name or someone working at large company. They wouldn’t work for me at that time, so I went to people who were working from home office. They did the job.
  • Along side, I am engaged in building a first of its kind university in India, which is focused on Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and it offers students a 4 year baccalaureate program and lets students choose their final subjects after two years of study.
  • Entrepreneur is about making choices and then working hard to make your dreams come true, if I would been doing the first job I did. I couldn’t afford the kind of education for my daughter, what I’m providing now.
  • I make milestones for myself. In 5 years, I’ll be at that stage of business and life, and in next 5 I’ll be somewhere better, and so on. That’s how I see it all.

Wow! Thank you Sanjeev and Monis, that was quite a learning + inspiring session. Fellow participants, if I missed anything, please include that in comments below.

Personal Note for my blog readers: This post might come as a surprise. I’m doing fine and HOMETOWN is making remarkable achievements. I’ll be making my remarks later this week. 🙂 Thank you.

HOMETOWN — Just Launched My Startup!

There comes a time in life, when you prepare yourself for a big day. You have thought about this time for years. And now you finally made it in a series of events.

For some it is getting admission at a remarkable college, or marrying with right person, for some it could be buying the first shoes for their parents.

Here at Hometown I and my team are in the middle of such moment right now.

Launching HOMETOWN! Oh WOW! Our first collection includes, ready to wear men shoes, wallets and belts and a special Pakistani footwear, called Chappal.

So no matter who you are, what you wear (canvas trouser, jeans, kurta or anything in between), and in which part of the world you live. You can surely shop one thing or two, or just come over, see what we have been doing, tell us what we should. More, you can also get custom shoes just made for you.

HOMETOWN came into exist for two main reasons, I and my team wanted to play our best shot so far, and to make use of exceptional skills of our craftsmen.

We short-listed several products, tried to find what can be done, and what will work best. For example, we failed 24 times, to make one of our Chappal. And now when we see it, we feel like, you know how it feels.
They say, journey of one thousand miles start with one step, it can be short, or slow, but it is probablly the most important. We have taken it, you’ve taken it, if you are reading this post and I so believe together, we’ll learn how to live a better life and celebrate all what it has to offer.There is so much more to say, but I’ll let our products and service communicate that with you. Thank you so much for being with all the time, and if you have any thing to say, I force you to write in comments on Hometown Blog or here.

You Are Either Problem Solver, Or Not Entrepreneur At All

First time entrepreneurs or young one like me, or most of us often ask this question to themselves, and people we meet around.

In the picture above is ‘Sharo‘ who for the first time is going to start her company.

And when she puts her questions before people who claim to have good experience in business. They answer it like this.

Or worse, here she is again:

Everyone is answering entirely from his/her own experience.

In this picture, she wants to learn what possible challenges, opportunities, and environment she will encounter on the road of entrepreneurship. Or in other words what advice you have for someone who’s thinking to cross the wall.

For answers, she goes to Tom, Ravi and David, all three of them have some experience in their fields.

Their answers are: TREES, MOUNTAINS and WATER.

Which means, Tom thinks she should learn how to survive in forests.

While Ravi believes, she must learn mountain climbing and how to survive in extreme hot and cold temprature.

And David recommends to focus on swimming and boating, which can help her to cross streams and rivers on her way.

What you think? What should she learn? Three of these skills, or every possible thing she can learn?

Here is what I think.

As a human or more specifically as an entrepreneur, we never know what challenges we shall have behind the wall of our comfortzone. And successful people have this one habit, they go behind the wall with a problem solving mindset and face everything on the way.

They do not assume specific environment, conditions, or challenges. Though each of them is jack of some trades, and master of one or two.

But this is their mindset which matters the most.

Today, I briefly talked with my team that, do not assume that all the challenges and opportunties will be the same as we percieve them now. Things are changing all the time, so does the challenges and opportunities which it brings.

Just make sure, you’ve allingned yourself well with the changes and you have this confidence that you shall solve every problem which would come between you and your destination.

Got it! Have problem solving mind? Oh WOW!

A plain wrong advice: Do What You Love

Do what you love. <= This is probably one of the most common advice entreprenuers give to one another. Like many others, I loved it too, and try to followed many times.

But now my point is changed over the time and after going through many experiences. I was wrong and so was this advice.

To get over to one’s favourite place/situation, we have to do many things which we would not prefer to do other way.

For example, if I have to travel from Basirpur to Lahore to do my favourite thing. But I can’t find a direct bus which normally takes 4 hours to reach there. So I would first go to any other place, from where I can find the bus for Lahore and it can take up to 10 hours. I shall hate to be in bus for 10 hours for a 4 hour travel. But I know it is worth doing, so I shall bear no matter what.

Entrepreneurs are easy to target for anything, mostly because they are always listening and noticing. And ‘Do What You Love’ comes as a fool’s paradise for beginners like me.

I have come to a result that, one should not be as much focused on doing what one always love or preffer. Instead, the destination should control your action.

If you want to build YOUR FAVORITE THING, you shall might have to do one or two or many THINGS YOU HATE.

And if you are someone who wants to make remarkable difference, you’ll surely have to face/do many things which you’ll hate doing otherwise. Makes sense?

PS. Earlier at the start of this year, I promised to myself that I shall not be fooled again by Gurus, so this post is part of the plan.

Related Post:

– What popular startup advice is plain wrong? (Quora.com)

Set for Shipping

Just now when I was coming out of my washroom, I saw an ant moving on the sink. At first it did not look like an ant at all. I thought it is anyother comparatively bigger insect. But when I got closer, it was an ant holding a piece of food bigger then itself. I think we become what we carry.

We can carry anything, a camera, a hope, some anger, business idea, a flower, thoughts of revenge, a regret or anything out there. Some time you can even carry an idea which could connect 850 million people. In short, everyone of us is set to ship something.

I often whisper: “A lot gets changed, and it’ll be changed more by time.”

Lately I have been in lot of changes, mostly positives.

Now on this blog I want to talk about what I am doing, rather than what I or you should be trying becoming.

As some of you know, I am trying building a startup. A real business where I have to convince people to buy my product (mostly shoes). In fact I am learning how to make physical products from scratch. And how to ship when it is hard.

Now I am realising this more than ever that why someone like ‘Sheeda Dabay Wala’ (Sheeda box maker) is smarter than guys with an MBA from a leading business school.

Entrepreneurship is fun, but at the same time, probably the most sensitive fun one could ever have. For example, yesterday someone stole my motor bike from the parking. This bike was gifted by my brother to help me in my business. And now it is with me no more, but then no matter what, let’s keep shipping.

Let’s keep shipping for what we set overselves.

In coming days and months, I shall write how I am building the business and what is important which I am learning, relearning or unlearning.

My focus will be more on the business and workable side of the world rather than just preaching how to be a better human. Better human is important, but one can help more people if you have the idea of getting something physical out of that.

In short I am all set now. The site name is changed from ‘Waqas A Day’ in to Waqas Ali.

And yes, now we have a tagline/message:  “Set for Shipping.”

RELATED POSTS:

– How Do We Like
– Without Knowing the Equation
I Shall Call You Smart If You