Interview compiled by Bijetri Roy
We recently had a conversation with Rajen Parikh, a Techno-Commercial Management professional, Founder & CEO, Orion Software Services & Adviser, InsPIRE. Here’s what he told us about his practical observations on startups.
It is fair to say that the multi-pronged initiatives by both government messaging & those from the educational institutes as well, start-ups have indeed mushroomed to a point where it is difficult to see the grass bed anymore! It is certainly an exciting and high-risk sector to dip one’s feet into, but I personally believe the journey has its own life-changing lessons and while success might be the end objective, it is a statistically documented fact that the rate of failure remains astonishingly high as well. However, success or failure notwithstanding, the pace in this ecosystem has accelerated in recent months, and unlikely it will slow down anytime soon.
Having gained Mentoring experience via my own adventures based on bootstrapping, Founders Fund and passionately sticking to my objectives, the journey succeeded in teaching me enough to share and extend my experience in the Start-up Ecosystem to help budding enthusiastic entrepreneurs avoid falling into some chasms that can be all consuming and disrupt one’s journey in an almost irretrievable way.
In my current engagements as an empaneled Mentor with reputed universities, and mentoring 3 ‘live’ start-ups via Incubation Centers and 2 via private entities, I have gained some new insights into how mentees think or see their enterprises. I wish it were just a matter of perception, but it is more than that- it is evidently a lack of patience and process-based engagement that I see as a shortcoming, which, I spend a great deal of time explaining and helping them overcome that and focus on the real tasks ahead.
The birth of this self-destructive perception truly is the clutter in the Start-up landscape! This is my personal analysis and conclusion, and not based on any scientific studies or research, so those wishing to dismiss or ignore my views, may please do so. I now feel that the Mentoring task only got harder, and without those extra efforts that any Mentor has to put in by way of a larger emotional, story-telling based approach – all of which would consume more time, the journey for the mentees and their dream project could be short lived. There is an ownership on Mentors now to do more & either rebuild a higher degree of confidence in the start-up owners, or instil new confidence based on one’s experience in varied circumstances.
Another trait I have noticed is wanting to stretch that investment or capital (on whatever method it might have been infused or granted- internal or external) to the maximum. Whilst this is a good trait, money used wisely never hurt, but the break-point or marooned point is hit sometimes due to lack of prioritizing on spends with those funds in hand. Here again, serious attention & guidance is needed to be given, and like the earlier pain point, this also needs a lot of discussion and persuasion on part of the mentors to get that priority matrix right. I am in the midst of this at the moment with my lot!
As these are some early-stage Start-ups I am engaged with, I will restrict my views to this one last point which I have encountered in my on-ground dealings. Wanting to scale up without a firm base (or a solid plan for one) too early on and wanting VC/Angel or Institutional Funding to get there. Here again, the desire and enthusiasm are personally appreciated but the truth is harder. Also, as we go rural where many start-ups are mushrooming at almost the same pace as the urban explosion, there is a serious handicap on presentation or creation of pitch-decks for these start-ups/owners/initiators. If this is not addressed by Mentors – yes, an added task on one’s to-do list – the journey gets more uphill for rural sector based aspiring entrepreneurs. Also, perhaps, VCs and other potential funding bodies need to take a softer look at interests from within the rural belt so that this sector too can have its glorious day in the sun!
Note: The opinion & views expressed here are the personal opinions/experience/views of Mr Rajen Parikh and shared here based on his current Mentoring assignments. He can be reached at – email@example.com