August 27, 2021
The Value of Making Mistakes
Here’s a simple equation – take huge doses of passion, regularly feed it with hard work and discipline, pepper it with some luck and bingo…. Your business will boom! Seems simple, and many an entrepreneur will go through those hoops and more, to build a successful business.
But, sometimes, actually many a time this equation gets muddled. And many a founder make mistakes. This week we speak to some to find out what were those mistakes. After all, nothing teaches you better than …. yup, mistakes.
Co-Founder, Univrse Virtual Reality
When Gaurav Totla set up his company, Universl Virtual Reality, he was like all start-up founders very gung-ho about his new baby and was all set with its preparations. “I had worked out everything and went into the market with all my energy and enthusiasm” It worked. Gaurav got space for his VR gaming set up at a mall in Nagpur. “It was really fantastic! Says he. “To get your first customer gives you a big high.”
Gaurav had it all worked out on paper. “But I made a mistake in judgment, or call it calculations. I hadn’t calculated the staff needed to do the back-end work. As a result, my team and I were busy with back-office work instead of looking at expanding our business.”
Misjudging the number of people required to run the business had a cost. “Instead of putting my energies in working on getting more franchisees, I was working on training back-office staff. If I had figured this out in my scheme of things, I would’ve seen better growth, managed to get more franchise partners faster than I did.”
Human Resource seems to be an issue that is skipped over by most founders. In July 2019, Yogesh Jhamtani set up Buffalo Extraction Systems that aimed to be a company that provided consultation in the cannabis industry (largely focussed on the US) and supply equipment for the extraction of herbal plants (including cannabis)
Founder, Buffalo Extracts
Says Yogesh, “Though cannabis is not yet legalized in India, it is gaining ground in the US and other western countries. People are discovering the several ways in which the cannabis plant can be used for medical purposes as well as to make different products.” Armed with the knowledge he had gathered over the years, Yogesh set up Buffalo Extraction Systems. And like Gaurav, miscalculated the need for professional specialists that his business required.
“We got a university in Africa as a client. They wanted to import cannabis seeds and set up a farm. I had not figured out that the soil in different countries and regions will necessarily be different. And that would impact the farming of cannabis. Actually, many things impact farming.”
So, Yogesh was in a dilemma. Should he tell his client that he didn’t really know how the soil would work with the imported seeds or pretend that he knew it all, which would amount to a lie. “I decided that it wasn’t worth cheating the client pretending to know it all. So, I told them that I don’t know, but I will find out and get back with the correct info.”
That saved the day for Yogesh. “But it made me realize that I had underestimated the need for having different specialists on my team. If I have to provide consultation to my clients, I cannot every time tell them that I will get back.” As a result, Yogesh is in the process of hiring specialists that he needs right now and in the future.
CEO & Co-Founder, Trixter Cyber Solutions
Employees may seem like an unnecessary cost, but their importance is known when the business experiences missed opportunities. Shaunak Modi, founder of Trixter Cyber Solutions, provides security services to companies. “Like most tech companies, we focus on building the best tech team. And, I assumed that marketing people weren’t that important. I could go myself and get clients. Why waste scarce money on hiring a salesperson?”/p>
With that in mind, Shaunak became not just the founder, but also the company’s salesman. “As a result, I spread myself too thin. I was interacting with customers, converting to sales, looking into operations, everything. I would even miss an appointment with a prospective customer. It was pretty hectic.”
Even though word-of-mouth recommendations from customers saved the day for Shaunak, he realized early on that investing in a salesperson was invaluable. “Techies don’t get that, and I too initially made that mistake. But now we have a full-time salesperson and I put my energies more on strategizing for the company.”
You could have all the technology in the world, the best product, service, but what good will it be if you don’t have people to manage different tasks? A lesson Buffalo Extraction Systems, Trixter and Universl learned the hard way. Mistakes may cost, but they teach invaluable lessons.
Worldwide, the success rate for start-ups is 10%. But at TiE Pune’s Nurture Accelerator program it is 39%. While our numbers tell their own story, we showcase here our mentees who tell how TiE helped their business.
Deep Saraf, MD, Nice Software Solutions and mentee gives his feedback on our program:
What does your company do?
We are a Data Analytics Services company with a specialization in MicroStrategy, Informatica, Tableau and PowerBI applications. We provide implementation and education services across the globe. We have a team of 200+ certified consultants and have offices in Nagpur, Pune and Dubai.
What made you join this program?
I joined the program to learn how to grow from a 160 people company to a 350+ people enterprise. I wanted to learn how to plan and execute a structured growth path as a services company. I wanted to study how to set targets and goals and strategically work towards the same. I needed guidance on a couple of topics such as sales strategy, marketing strategy, forming a robust team etc.
How has the Nurture Accelerator helped you?
The program has helped me immensely. With the help of my mentors, we have:
- A targeted goal plan to double my revenue and customer base in 3 years. The focus will be more on revenue and customers, rather than on resources.
- A Sales plan, and we have hired a salesperson in India and US
- Created Practice Heads for each technology and have them focus on growth of each vertical
- Expanded the Recruiting and Resource Management team to cater to the resource requirements
- Understood the KPIs of our existing customer segmentation and revenue streams. This will allow us to focus more on the right set of customers and services.
- Stay focused and keep growing in our field itself, since it has ample scope. No need to get distracted and cover all technologies.
What were the three most important learnings?
- Structured growth plan
- Focus and be decisive
- Defined sales and marketing strategy
What’s your message to other founders?
Keep yourself completely free to plan your growth smartly!