Saturday 8 February 2020

How can I do a startup like Aman Goel did?

The short version - just get started with something that adds value to other people’s life.
The long version
As one of my advisors says,
To be an entrepreneur, you require 3 things - dil (heart), dimaag (brain) and dum (will power)
Most people possess the first 2 but do not have the last one and that’s the reason most people do not start.
When I started my entrepreneurial journey, fortunately, I had the dum to ditch my upcoming job and start my own venture. However, in the beginning, I also got many things wrong:
  • I focused on how to make money rather than focusing on building a great product.
  • I focused on the output of employees rather than helping them get that output.
  • I focused on how can my clients pay me more rather than building great relationships with them
I focused on all the wrong things. The approach to business was totally wrong and no wonder, I faced a lot of challenges during the first 1.5 years of my business. What went wrong?
I focused on the output rather than the input. Output includes things like - how much money the client pays me. Input includes things like - how well I serve them. After 1.5 years of problems, I realized that my focus should be on things that I can control rather than on the outcomes, where I have no control over. For instance,
  • Instead of focusing on how much money a client pays me, I started focusing on how can I maintain a strong relationship with them. To do that, I decided that I should meet them once every week.
  • Instead of focusing on how much output my employees provide, I started focusing on how can I take care of them the best. To do that, I made sure that my office had all the arrangements to keep them happy - relatively relaxed timings, free snacks, office outings, etc.
I shifted my focus from output to input. I tried doing the best I can and in turn, things automatically started improving.
We all have heard what is written in Geeta - karam karo, fal ki chinta na karo (keep working hard without worrying about results). While I never read Geeta, I started applying the above principle wherever possible. A few things happened:
  • I started getting more control on my life because what I do (karam) was completely in my control.
  • My relationship with clients started improving and I got more business automatically. Some of our clients trust us so much that they want us to work on new solutions rather than purchasing them from specialized solution providers.
  • My business started growing, revenues grew by 4x this year. We started getting more clients onboarded. Seeing the success with clients, investors have started reaching out to us.
The whole equation that most entrepreneurs follow is to first find an investor, then build a product and then find a customer. We changed the equation to first finding a customer, then building a product as per what they wanted and we automatically got the investors.
How can I do a startup like Aman Goel did?
Reverse the value equation and focus on what you bring on the table rather than what you take from the table.
PS: Read the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. I believe that the book gets into the details of what I mentioned above. It talks about building the right habits which will automatically lead to better outcomes.

How did Aman Goel manage studies and extracurricular activities like clubs and events during his time at IIT Bombay?

If you enjoy things, you will be able to get the best out of yourself.
I never joined any random club or society for the sake of it. I was engaged in the following extra-curricular activities during the college days:
  • Convener at Rubik’s Club: that was because I loved solving Rubik’s cube and wanted others to learn the same.
  • Teaching Assistant for Multiple courses: that was because I had some thoughts, ideas, and approaches of looking at things differently and I wanted to convey those ideas to others and possibly get some more suggestions. Being a Teaching Assistant was a great way to achieve the same because I got an opportunity to interact with a bunch of some of the smartest students in the country.
  • Department Academic Mentor: this is because I love interacting with people and sharing my experiences with others.
  • Multiple Freelancing Projects: as an engineer, I love building things and solving problems. Freelancing is a great way to do that. Plus, it never hurts to make some side money while in college.
Time Management in college is fairly simple. The trick is simple - pay attention during the lectures so that you can focus on other things outside of the lectures.
Where most students screw up is that they don’t focus during the lectures. That way, the entire time is wasted and then you have to engage in self-study separately. While self-study is good, it is much better to do it alongside the lectures so that you can save time.
At IIT Bombay, the lecture hours are relatively less as compared to other colleges (at least that’s what I have heard from my friends). For instance, a typical semester at IIT Bombay (CSE) would not involve more than 4 - 5 hours of lectures a day. That way, I used to get plenty of time for other stuff.
The bottom-line is time management. Learn to prioritize things. Learn to build a schedule. Learn to build habits and things would be easy to manage.