Things I learnt in my 2+ yr Startup Stint
The Journey:I joined DEN Snapdeal TV-Shop, 7 days before its launch on 22nd Sept’14 as Sr. Marketing Manager & the challenge was humongous.
And from all the areas:- The industry was new to me- This was my stint in marketing- And a business which was not yet launched.
While in our first year, we took the bull by its horns — chasing growth, & clocked a revenue of 400 Cr+, but then in second year only, because of external market and investor sentiment, had to chase profitability, but took it as a challenge and achieved it.
25 Months in the business, and I felt, I saw pretty much everything to everything, both Scaling up to achieve growth & then scaling down to a profit.
First part of the journey:While I joined the place as a Sr. Marketing Manger, but there was no one above me in Marketing, and hence, had to set up marketing function, hiring people, seeing which medium works to acquire customers, which mediums helps get re-call, launching a 360 marketing campaign, setting up metrics, SLAs, review processes, making sure the team remains clear & focused on what needs to done BAU & what needs to be chased in long run were few things.
My learning here was: Madness is important - not just work, but behavioral communication too, because it is infectious.
Soon after our first Diwali FY15, when we achieved our revenue peak, I was given another unknown animal - setting up our e-commerce business.
Second part of the journey:Setting up E-Commerce business, was again an interesting journey, where I learnt every nut and bolt of the business on P&L, operational level. Interesting because there was no tech/product guy, no operations guy or actually anyone, just me and one passionate Junior.
But it actually helped me. I worked I also worked on setting up system/product for the overall business, where all the learning while setting up e-commerce product came handy.
Launching the e-commerce biz, and growing to a size of 15 members in 1.5 months, and then scaling down to 2 members, was one hell of a journey.
My learning from this time period was: Passion beats unknown.
Third part of the journey:
Third part of the journey, was both the shortest (5.5 months) & the beat learning phase. I was made “Chief of Staff” and was working with CEO directly on everything to everything. In this period, I understood that setting up systems, functions, processes was much easy, but the most difficult problem of the business is people — Some times senior, sometimes junior, sometimes those who love you, sometimes those who hate you, sometimes those who are motivated, and most of the times those who are not. In this time, I also learnt about business plan, investment deck, raising funds ( we couldn’t raise external funds — but I atleast learnt the process).
Learning during this time was — when you have to fight people and they are against you or business, don’t fight people, but the reason because of which they are what they are.
Turning people positive towards business goal is the most important thing, then giving up on them.
Summary:Mentioned below are five key things I learnt, as an Individual from my 2 year stint at a StartUp, and what they fucking don’t teach you at BSchool.
And these are not just learnings, but more like rules, I have engraved in my behavior.
1. Be Bold in Communication:The problems, the in-securities, the issues, the love, the care, the feedback, sometimes just the obvious, to the seniors, to the juniors, when the biz has the opportunity, when the biz has problems.Just be brave, and say it…holding up doesn’t help anyone, not even you.(However, it doesn’t hold true always, there are cases when biz need to hold information to benefit people/biz — that’s seperate)
2. Never give up on People: People are people, and people are awesomePeople make or break businesses. The biggest buildings, the biggest businesses, the biggest economies as we see have been made by people.
I often say that in Biz — First thing is “Team”, second is “Seller/Supplier” & third is “Consumer”. Often in businesses, due to many reasons, we give up on people, because of expectation mismatch, but I believe that just be solved by Point 1 (Communicating expectations) People are people- Means we shouldn’t have too much expectations, of passion, accuracy & result from everyone. But when nurtured, they overtime become awesome.
Even when you hate someone or someone hates you, don’t give up on thm — Fight the reason and not the person — because if you fight the reason of hatred you will win the person, not just for some time, but for a long long time.
3. Be Optimistic & Opportunistic
a) Optimism/Hope is both the disease & the medicine. You can either hope that things will fall, and plan your actions basis that, or you can either hope that things will work and plans your actions towards it. I am not saying that you shouldn’t have a PLAN B, you should. But Plan B in mind often weakens the PLAN A in action.
I often plan for the worse, write it down in evernote or excel & forget about it, and keep workings words the goal with “high” on optimism, unless the assumptions change, its then when you need to modify both Plan A & B, and execute like wise.
Never give up. Even when others do not do their Job.
b) Be Opportunistic: Like Optimism, opportunity is also a bitch. Opportunity often lands in the lap of lucky 0.01% and for rest some lucky — they have to “find opportunity” & for other unlucky ones have to “Create the opportunity”. Being opportunistic helps, if like a hunter you always try and look out for opportunity in everything, and think of creating one if it being not there, then boss you already are a hero and success is guaranteed.
4. Try and do good even when no one is seeingThe good thing about life is, “… if you’re really honest with yourself about what you want out of life life gives it to you”.
And hence, this has always been my belief that keep throwing stone in the pond, even when no one is seeing, even when there is no ripple in the water, because sometimes, ripples take time & but they do come. Hence, keep doing good for the biz, help people, be open to feedback, give constructive feedback, listen to people’s problem, always vocalize solutions publically & problems individually.. Keep doing good, Keep doing right.
Live: Remember — there is just one life & it is this one. No matter what happens at the end of the day - cherish the moment. Just hold it and remember, how you will see this day (both success & failure) @ 70, and hence LIVE, live it to fullest.
Love: Love & smile are two renewable sources of energy, unless you have a constipated face. Hence, no matter what — keep loving the people in this journey, not because you want something from them, but just, because it will give smile to someone & make them happy.
Laugh: Be weird, as I was known, be crazy, it doesn’t matter what people will think of you, or how they will behave. Just laugh. Laugh over — your failures, your mistakes — of how stupid your assumption were when you thought that action plan or took that path. Laugh it over, it eases the emotions.
Lastly, I would just like to mention my mantra for live, because it compresses all in simple few words:
Dream — Believe — DoDo — Fail — Learn — Do.. & keep repeating.
P.S: In case of any feedback, or any observation, please feel free to respond or reach out to me at Satyaprem@nojoto.com