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Pubmatic Chairman Amar Goel on the IPO, his entrepreneurial journey, and lessons learned

A serial entrepreneur, Amar Goel has founded three companies – Pubmatic, Komli Media, and Safeter. He is the former CEO and now Chairman of PubMatic, which went public a month and a half ago.

He has also worked at Microsoft for over three years and served as consultant at McKinsey for over two years.

Amar shares his experience, lessons learned, and insights gleaned from his 14-year journey to success in the latest episode of Prime Ventures Partners podcast with Amit Somani, Managing Partner, Prime Venture Partners. The podcast series brings together impactful moments from the lives of entrepreneurs and investors playing a key role in building Digital India. 

When asked about lessons learnt so far, Amar says: “If you follow Buddhism or Hindu spirituality, there are these concepts of being present and not having expectations; expectations are kind of like the mother of all evil. I think you have to approach your entrepreneurial journey just like that.” He adds that it is important to take one day at a time instead of chasing numbers.

Amar goel

Amar Goel, Founder and Chairman, Pubmatic [Image Credit: PubMatic]

Importance of internal fortitude

After going public, the expectation mindset changes for many companies – they grow very high and actually become short term.

When asked how this mindset can be changed and how entrepreneurs can continue thinking long term, Amar says going public has just changed things externally for them, and their fundamentals remain as they were earlier.

He adds that luck plays an important part in this process, and it is “important to have internal fortitude”.

What has proved effective for him – and the company – is being diligent at work, consistently executing ideas, carrying out discussions, and always staying focused on the direction they are heading in and what they are trying to get done. 

Stay true to yourself

Being an industry that often goes in and out of favour, a “red ocean type market with several players”, distinguishing yourself is of foremost importance in order to position in a deeper red ocean.  

“I think you have to go after something with a large TAM, addressable market, or it could be a small TAM today, but one that growing fast and you think will be a large TAM. You have to focus on that, and you have to do it better than everyone else,” Amar says. 

He adds that amidst the number of distractions that come along the way, it is important to stay true to yourself and your core.

One of the ways to distinguish yourself is to focus less on your competitors, more on your customers, and work backwards from there – something that seems difficult to entrepreneurs at an early stage.

Beyond customer focus and terms of positioning or segmenting the market, it is equally important to “show your progress through data and metrics”. 

Board meetings and fun

Board members should be used as a sounding board, and board meetings are an instrumental check for the entrepreneur and the management team to lay out what is happening in the business and know what is working and what is not.

The McKinsey ex-consultant takes this approach to board meetings. “They are like a homework check; you need to check if you have learnt everything.” 

He also suggests approaching them like sales meetings, where you come with a set agenda sent out ahead of time and then focus on the decided topics.    

Amar’s advice to young and aspirational entrepreneurs is to “focus on the journey, make it fun”. “Enjoy what you are doing, make it fun and don’t forget to enjoy your friends and family,” he says, adding that it’s important to understand that making your startup successful is “not above and beyond everything else”. 

To know more, listen to the podcast, here

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