Entrepreneurs cannot think sequentially

Human beings, in general, think sequentially. They always chart out their course of action as A to B to C to D, and so on and so forth. It is natural human tendency. That is how the human brain works.

But, this has to be different in the case of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs have to think of many different things at the same tie, making it imperative for them to think parallel and get multiple things done simultaneously. A start – up guy would be looking at increase in pay, hiring, firing, getting new projects, getting clients, and fulfilling their requirements simultaneously.

An entrepreneur gets into the habit of thinking like that. It makes life a lot easier for him.

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Learn from history

Learn from History

Reading teaches us a lot of things that we do not have the time to experience. There are so many things in the world, and our lifetimes are too short for us to be able to see and learn everything. That is why it makes sense for us to learn from what other people did – their successes and their failures; their mistakes and the things they did right.

Entrepreneurs can learn from everybody – from Alexander to Hitler. Alexander teaches us his organizational skills and his foresight. Hitler’s stories tell us about his people management skills (mobilizing a whole country against a certain race and motivating them to take on the world is no mean feat) and his oratorical skills. Mean though he was, he had some admirable qualities.

Indian history teaches us about a whole gamut of subjects – from what happens when you become a megalomaniac to what happens when you are a pushover. It teaches us about negotiating skills.

You just have to keep your eyes and ears open, and you will be surprised at how much you learn.

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How things have changed!

How things have changed

Around a decade or a decade and half ago, everybody in Hyderabad had a scooter (or a bike, or any form of a motorised two wheeler). The man of the house would work for six days a week. He would, typically, go to office at around 9 or 9:30 in the morning and come home by 6 in the evening. Life was not as stressful as it is today.

Those days, multiplexes were a foreign concept. There were no multiplexes in Hyderabad. So, every Sunday, families would go to RTC cross roads. This place had numerous cinema halls. It was a desi multiplex, with one area showing as many movies as were released. The family would go and watch a movie, followed by lunch, and the father would buy some trinket for the mother and a few balloons or toys for the children, and everybody would go home happy.

Today, an average person owns a car. People usually work five days a week – Monday through Friday – and use the weekends to relax. On a regular weekend, a regular family would be seen traipsing down the aisles of an upscale mall, and then in the queue at a multiplex, waiting to pick up the tickets they booked using bookmyshow.com. The movie would then be followed by lunch at the mall or at one of the fast food chains that are sprouting like mushrooms everywhere. The father would buy an expensive handbag or something like that for the mother, and some expensive electronic toys for the children, and everyone will go home happy.

The activities are similar, the feelings generated are the same, and yet, something has changed – the amount of money spent. People have more disposable income now, and they don’t mind splurging on clothes, shoes, accessories, and toys.

When I look at them, I don’t feel like leading the same lifestyle. I want to leave something behind – something that will benefit the society at large when I am no longer alive. I don’t think I can ever be a part of the rat race.

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Incremental innovation is better than disruption

Every now and then, we come across some article, here or there, that talks about a disruptive start – up or a disruptive technology.

What is a disruptive start – up or technology?
A disruptive start – up or technology is one that disrupts the current market. Such is its impact that it throws everyone in frenzy. People are excited; people are scared; people are apprehensive. The market does not know what to do. Contemporaries fear being out of business and resort to desperate measures to stay afloat. It is a bomb that is thrown amidst a peaceful sphere.

A child that disrupts a class draws attention (not in a good way), is punished, and taken to the principal. The same theory applies for start – ups and technologies. A disruptive start – up or technology will draw attention, and all of it will not be good. And if it fizzles out, you will not have anywhere to turn to.

Instead of bombarding the market and exciting them out of their wits and putting them on their guard, it is always better to reveal what you have in stages. Start with a pilot run. Then bring the first version out; then the second version, and so on. Give people time to acclimatise. Gradual introduction will give people the comfort of getting used to something at their own pace. They will be more accepting and welcoming then.

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Entrepreneurship, GES and My thoughts

As the Founder and CEO of SYGNAL, which works to revamp fashion as we know it today, I know first-hand that the journey of an entrepreneur is both challenging and interesting. Sometimes you are lucky to receive opportunities that are life changing – you just may not know it at the time. I feel lucky to have been part of the Entrepreneurship journey for the past 12 years and was fortunate to attend various important IoT, Technology conferences and was lucky to meet many accomplished individuals who share the same passion.

My entrepreneurship journey has been sweetened by my partner in life and business, Mahalakshmi, who has time and again made me realize how badly we need more women in leadership roles. She brings about a different outlook, approach and sincere work ethic to the company which would otherwise not be possible. She was recently invited to a conference conducted by US Embassy in Hyderabad and received many accolades for taking up a challenge which many would feel is too big.

Getting a group of individuals with passion together has proven historically to ignite sparks that transform the society at large. Although we have come a long way from coffee shop meet-ups to an industrial scale #GES2017 meet ups, the basic tenet of getting people from various backgrounds, thoughts, ideas and experiences together seems to create a spark and works even today or more so in the socially online connected world.

I have been following the #GES program since it started out in the White House. Some developing countries have hosted #GES before India and I can say with absolute confidence that these countries will see a spurt in the entrepreneurship spirt and numbers in the years to come.

The important message, however, that I would like to give to budding entrepreneurs is – no matter how successful you are, do not forget to “move forward fast”.

Follow your dream! There are so many different ways to use your skills and make an impactful contribution to the world. If you can identify a solution to one of the problems in the world, find a team of people who can help you reach your dreams. Start small, you will not be able to solve the problem in a day or in any short time, so keep nibbling away a little by little each day. Get advice from passionate people in your industry, meet new people, ask for inputs. More often than not, the solutions to the most complex problems happen to be very simple and straightforward.

We are trying something similar with SYGNAL. Our aim is to infuse fashion with technology and to disrupt the fashion industry at large. Having received wide media attention from across the globe post product demo, the onus on us was higher to deliver and we have been able to come out with great improvisations to our integration of technology into apparel which I believe is only the very beginning. I can see that as computing powers increase, new and previously unimagined possibilities will come true. The journey ahead is very exciting.

Local community has played a huge role in my success as an Entrepreneur. From a manufacturing and job creation perspective, we aim to create about 5,000 – 10,000 new direct and indirect jobs in the next 2 – 3 years. The implications of positive entrepreneurship for the local communities I believe is the need of the hour and we are trying to give back to the society that has helped us grow and scale heights.

Needless to say, I’m very excited to be sharing space with innovative, gritty entrepreneurs at #GES2017 and I believe this summit would be a game changer for India.

Footnote: If you would like to get in touch with me, feel free to email me at ayyappa@broadcastwear.com. Also, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter.

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I got your back


got your backSince I was young, I always wanted someone to have faith in me, and show it. But, sadly, that was never the case. My greatest wish was someone would tell me, “You go ahead and do what you want, I got your back”. But, I guess there are some things you’ve got to learn the hard way.

I was never a bad student. In fact, I was quite good at academics. I had relatives who were quite well – off. They were aware of my family’s financial situation. They were also aware of my academic results. But, none of them came forth and offered to sponsor my studies.

As I grew up and started my own company, people started knowing me. People knew the struggles I was going through, but none of them came forth and offered to invest. I was disheartened, only to be taught an important lesson in life – no one can give you what you want, it is up to you to look for it within.

We are our support systems. I realized that only I had the power to ensure that I was not daunted by the odds, that nobody and no situation could influence me unless I wanted it to, and that knowledge gave me tremendous strength.

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God works through us

god exists

People pray to the Almighty for various reasons. But, the major reason is to ask for things they don’t have.

If we do not have money, we ask for money. If we do not have health, we ask for health. If we do not have children, we ask for children. If we do not have a partner, we ask for a partner. If we are unemployed, we ask for a job.

Since God cannot be everywhere at every point of time, he chooses to work through us. The guy lending you money in time of need is God working through him. The common friend through who you meet the love of your life is God’s messenger.

Finances are a touchy point for people, and it is not easy to ask for money from a fellow human being in the time of need. My only prayer to the Almighty is to give me enough so that I can help those in need.

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Everyone teaches us something

Jesse Owe

Jesse Owens is a world famous athlete. After getting his first Olympic gold medal, he spoke the following lines:

To those of you, who laughed at me, thank you.
Without you, I wouldn’t have cried.

To those of you who couldn’t just love me, thank you.
Without you, I wouldn’t have known real love.

To those of you who hurt my feelings, thank you.
Without you, I wouldn’t have felt them.

To those of you, who left me lonely, thank you.
Without you, I wouldn’t have discovered myself.

But it is to those of you who thought I couldn’t do it;
It is you I thank the most, Because without you, I wouldn’t have tried.

The moment I read this poem, something in me stirred. I could not sleep for a number of nights. I stayed up, thinking about the truth behind the poem, and how I have faced adversity.

When I first wanted to start out on my own, and I was an employee at Satyam, I went to one of the big guys for help. He listened to my ideas, and told me I was not ready. He told me that I should wait for a few more years – how many, he never specified. But I went ahead, despite his advice, and became what I am today.

Whenever I face adversity, I am reminded of this poem. If you read it every day, like me, it will give you the strength you need.

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The time I contemplated suicide

As I have mentioned many times before, my father was in the army. He was never one of the officers, but was relegated to the lower sepoy ranks. As a result, we were never introduced to the splendour that comes with being the children of a man employed in the Indian Armed Forces.

While we were never well – to – do, our parents never gave us the impression that ours was a hand – to – mouth existence. But, as we were growing up, I could not help but notice the hardships that my parents had to go through to feed all four of us.

One day, I overheard my parents talking about how difficult it was getting to make ends meet. I was very young, and my young mind took their words and concocted them into something drastic, as most young minds are prone to do.

I decided to end my life as a solution to their financial problems. At least, they would have one less mouth to feed. I had heard that diamonds are pretty bad for our system; diamonds, when swallowed, cut through our insides and cause a quick death. Thus began my hunt for a diamond that I could swallow. My mother had a pearl, and being a young boy, I thought pearls and diamonds are the same. I remember asking my mother for the pearl. Of course, I never got it.

But, now that I look back, it all seems so foolhardy. Ending one’s life is never the solution.

Image Credits: https://pixabay.com/en/rope-noose-death-depression-1450187/

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Some people have ambitions. Lofty ambitions. These ambitions don’t let them sleep

walk on moon

At Satyam, one fine day, my boss started asking each of us about our ambitions. We were having some discussion, and he posed this question. Everybody spoke of the one thing they wanted to do before they died. One girl said that she wants to buy her own house. At that time, I thought that her ambition was too easy.

I wanted to walk on the moon. She just wanted to buy a house? In retrospect, I realised her house was her moon. Her house was the one thing that would not let her sleep at night. It would haunt her till she achieved it. It is what would make her happy. It will be the driving force behind her successes.

I still want to walk on the moon. There are only two ways of achieving this – I could become tremendously fit, acquire qualifications, and go to NASA, or I could found an organisation that would conduct research and come up with a rocket that would take me to the moon!

The former is not impossible, but it is not easy. The latter is more feasible. That way, even if I don’t land on the moon, I will be able to leave behind a legacy of research and development that can become the foundation for the future. It can help our descendants to create something better and lead progress.

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