Sunday, February 17, 2008

OCC Meet, Core Objects ,17th February, 2008

Today we had Sameer and Nandini of MadHouse/Seventymm with us.

Sameer and Nandini happen to be a married couple ( “We happen to be”, when asked how difficult is managing personal Vs. Entrepreneurship! )
So there was a very interesting case, both of them working in plush, cushy jobs in Silicon valley, come down to India for Sameer’s Brother’s marriage, way ahead of their actual intentions of settling in India, or a Venture , for that matter.
Now, there’s a twist, may be that’s why Sameer calls it an accident, “ The visa application gets rejected”, and Woops, not that they cannot find a job here in India, but yes, they seriously begin to think about being entrepreneurs.
Prior to this, Sameer, and Nandini had shot two short films, both in silicon valley , and when they sat down to really evaluate the entire film rental business model, that did come handy, because of their taste in Movies, and Media.

Nandini also happens to be a Mass Communication Graduate, so she worked on the operations, and Communication Management aspect of it.

In the Initial days, they hunt for VC’s , and with a support from family and friends, they kick-Start, and call it Madhouse. A place where you can rent a DVD, legally, Now that’s something really amazing, you get the finest print, and you get precisely what you want, not just browse from the catalogue and make a ,” ok, I will have this , then “, decision.
So that is Madhouse. As Nandini talks about what goes beyond it, I am not only mesmerised by the beauty with which she elaborates the details , the pain points, and how they got the staff to work for them, in the initial few months, when even they were cash Crunch.

Then, Sameer takes over, and tells that what really worked for them, is that they treated their staff, as not just Delivery Boys, or say call centre executives (They had this business model, where one could just call from home, and order the DVD’s , and that would be delivered by their field staff.)

He says, that their Staff was more of a family, and eventually it was like, “this team”, getting more people to work for them. Sameer mentions, may be because he never treated them as staff in first place, which was because of his own experiences in his firm, and how he believed people deserve to be treated.
I Guess, that’s how people, get that kick, because money is one thing, but there’s a lot more that goes in making a business model work, it is the rapport which one builds within the team, the ego less person one portrays to be. To this he adds, “By creating a world inside, we were able to compensate for the glitz and fatty pay cheques around the market.’

Nandini interrupts, adding, “If you are ready to get your begging bowl out, you are ready to hit the road, don’t assume people to trust you, when you are doing your venture, and not taking it seriously yourself. People say, “let’s keep it for weekends, but how effective is that? , it is like you are standing on a bridge and you are not letting it go, then how does a VC trust you , for you always have an “OPTION”, to fall back on, if this fails, so if something has to work, it has to work as soon , as you are prepared about the Idea. “

To this, Venkat, CEO, OutSmart360 adds, “There will always be this dilemma , of taking your interest further, and of taking that pay cut, and knowing that you have a whole lot of team to pay, for the current month, and then, think about the cash flows of next month, and only then, can you even imagine to take a pay check home. “

Entrepreneurship, like business is more of learning, relearning, and Nandini claims that may be because they did not have stereotypes about the way Business is run, it really helped.

What both Nandini and Sameer stressed was, the importance of creating a good interpersonal relationships, with the customers, their own team, and how his earlier experiences eventually mapped on to creating a conductive culture in their own venture.
They also mention an incident where a staff got in touch with a friend, who eventually got in some VC funding, now that’s what all rapport is all about. More so, it’s also about marketability, and giving the perfect package, you can; which translates to, if a customer does not like your idea in the first 10 minutes, chances are that, he would never really like it. So you have to make that impact, and then hit the chord right.

Then they also touch about the laws of preferential investment, in terms of the process, when they got acquired by Seventymm.

After this we turn the tables to the VC on board , Abhishek from Erasmic, and he briefs about why VC’s reject ideas.

Vc’s are answerable for other’s money ! Say, Google Lmt. , or Amazon is putting in money, along with the private investors,they not only want their money to go in safe ands, with pledge giving a good ROI , (20-30% ), but more so, a VC is answerable to a lot of questions, if one venture they invest in, does not kick. So they identify all the risks, and then set every thing in place.

Abhishek , did a good job of pulling over the “Evil VC”, to a “Considerate VC “ image .

We also had couple Aishwaraya and Ishwar , both IIMB Grads, discussing their Idea, about a Web based solution for ecommerce, and we did a lot of jamming, I somehow had the feeling, that they were taking my suggestions positively , so I kept speaking, and we then talked about making it a better lot, and the USP factor.

Then we break from the table as all of us are overwhelmed with the Gyan.

If you have been reading all this, you probably hit this page, because you really have an entrepreneur mind, so do drop by for the next meet, who knows, we might have a new start up traversing its journey, a story that all of us would love to hear.

We will be pleased to have you drop by for a little fun over coffee, the next meet..

See you there!

Ekta Grover
Stay Hungry , Stay Foolish.

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