Entrepreneurship is an exponentially growing field. This is especially the case with India as an increasing number of startups are leading the way with innovation at the core. What is predominant in every entrepreneur’s checklist is ensuring the sustainability of their business. The primary aim is to ensure absolute scalability and stray away from an expiration date.
Serial entrepreneur Rishi Das, Co-founder and Chairman, IndiQube seems to have figured out this complication. Founded in 2015, Bengaluru-based IndiQube is a managed office space brand that provides accessible, affordable, and personalised workspaces.
At TechSparks 2022, India’s most influential startup-tech summit, Rishi presented a keynote address on the topic ‘Building startups that last a lifetime’.
Tricks of the game
At the beginning itself, Rishi stated, “Startups do not have a lifetime, founders do. Hence, the key question becomes, what are we aiming to achieve in a founder’s lifetime so that we are able to create an enduring startup?”
Revealing his distinct perspective towards startups, Rishi unveiled the similarity between a startup and an individual’s upbringing. From a young age, we are accustomed to the concept of discipline, good education, building a family, developing competency, and eventually, building the appropriate value system
which can be passed on to the next generation. A startup functions just like that, highlights Rishi.
He said, “Create the right culture and values and as you progress in your journey, build the competencies and capabilities, and build enough people in the company who can take over. Most importantly, hand it over further in a way where you feel that it will survive and thrive.”
What is important is to understand that as a founder, Rishi emphasised, is that one must reflect on ensuring that the practices or methodology being followed at the present can be continued in the future. Whether or not that continuation is possible, makes or breaks a startup’s journey.
Hence, growth must be a habit and range-bound and maintaining a continuum must be the priority, he said.
Rishi shared, “A lot of us today think in a 5-10 year horizon. We do not understand the power of compounding everything. Wealth is generated over generations, so be cognizant of it. What we are today is not just a function of what we are, it is a function of the opportunity that we have gotten.”
What needs to be avoided?
An unsustainable work ethic.
Rishi said, “When people raise money, a number of times, they just start spending. They do not think if it is really sustainable or required. A startup is a lot about frugality—doing more with less.”
“Further, there have to be certain redlines that one has to follow. For example, in our case, if somebody comes and says that they have another offer letter, take it or leave it. With such people, our strategy is very simple – it is not a question of whether, it is a question of when. So if we have those kinds of mercenaries on board, we typically try to get them off as soon as possible. So, doing the right thing, the right way is very important. Try not to take shortcuts as much as you can,” he adds.
Following the rat race is never the answer, and the same applies to fundraising and dealing with the raised capital.
Rishi says, “You should never raise money for the heck of raising it. VC or private equity money comes with a lot of responsibilities. You should not increase your expenses just because you have raised money.”
“You do not have to be the darling of the VC world. If there are one or two VCs that believe in your idea and are willing to back you, that is enough. You have to choose between being rich or between famous,” he adds.
The startup mantra
काक चेष्टा बको ध्यानं, श्वान निद्रा तथैव च ।
अल्पहारी गृह त्यागी, विद्यार्थी पंच लक्षणं ॥
Rishi asks us to note that this Sanskrit note applies to all founders.
“[As a founder] you need to have perseverance of a crow, focus of a crane, attention like that of a dog, even when asleep. You need to do more with less, and lead a pious life,” he concludes.
Edited by Suman Singh and Kanishk Singh