Bootstrapping is the way to go!!!

I first came across the concept of “Bootstrapping” reading Guy Kawasaki’s post on his blog and I was in the final year of my college at that time. I also read more about it from Guy’s book The Art of Start, which I feel is a fabulous resource for anyone who is starting a venture from scratch. If you dont have any prior experience then this book is your bible.

After reading the chapters for ‘n’ number of times, I thought that I had understood the concept of bootstrapping, until I was proven wrong. I went for an internship at CommonFloor.com after my graduation. At that time the team was 3 people strong, me and Mitanshu extended it to 5, though for a brief period of time. It was that one month at CommonFloor that I learnt a lot about running a venture. The venture was bootstrapped to the core and under the tutelage of Sumit and Lalit, cofounders, also hailing from IIT Roorkee, that I learnt the traits of bootstrapping and how thinking a liitle creatively an entrepreneur can do away with unnecessary expenses.

No marketing activity was carried out until and unless it had proven its ROI on paper. I dont think that they did any sort of outsourcing and learnt all the traits of the game themselves, which further saved them loads of money and left them enormously well equipped to tackle any situation in the future.

Here is another very interesting and insightful article on Bootstrapping.

You can also download “The Bootstrapper’s Bible” from here. It is Seth Godin’s wonderful ebook on how one can make bootstrapping his way of life.

I now feel that it has to be a part of one’s lifestyle when one is starting up. I still remember how I saved lots of money myself while starting up dietz. As an entrepreneur you cant afford to accept things as they are.

Say for example, why do you need an external agency to run marketing campaigns for you, or an external agency to build the prototype for you. If everything has to be done by external agencies then what’s your role? To manage them, co-ordinate with them, you might say but will you learn anything that way? I guess no, even if you do then the cost of learning would be too high!!!

If you ask Sumit or Lalit anything about their technology, their business or entrepreneurship in general they will tell you so much that you probably will repent asking the question in the first place.

So go ahead, bootstrap your venture, it will be fun and once you have mastered it you will realise how creative and knowledgeable you have become.he

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Sole Proprietorship or Pvt Ltd. common doubts!!

This is a common doubt that most of fresh entrepreneurs have. I myself was very confused when I was starting dietz, but then I read a lot and finally concluded in favour of a Sole Proprietorship.

Sole Proprietorship (S.P) or Pvt. Ltd. here are some commin doubts along with their solutions :

* What will be the difference in registering as a Proprietorship and as a Private Limited Company?

ANS: You dont need to register a sole proprietorship, just get on with the business, all you need is the licenses, VAT etc (if at all) which are intrinsic to your business and you can do all those legalities by mentioning your company as a S.P. If you want to register a private company, hire the services of a reliable CA and he will help you out with the process, normally a CA will charge around 20-25k for this and around 10 will be charged by Registrar of Companies (if you register the company with minimum paid up capital of 1lac, it is the amount that you need to have in your bank account while going for registering process.) You also need to get the name registered first for starting a Pvt. Ltd company, which has to be approved by the ROC first.

* What is the difference in costs in starting a Proprietorship vs. a Private Ltd.?

Ans: There are no starting cost for a S.P, sparing the license fees and VAT etc. whereas you require a minimum of 1 lac rupees as a paid up capital, which is nothing but the amount of money that you need to have in your account/company account while registering the company. You can withdraw and use the money later on. You will also have to spend on licenses and VAT, etc still.

* Do I need to work with a CA or a lawyer for this issue? My product is in development stage and I don’t want to invest much money at this stage.

Ans: You dont need a CA or a lawyer for a S.P, if you need licenses then you have to get it from nagar nigam, for sales tax etc you might need CAs. If your product is in a development stage then spare yourself the horror of the procedures and develop the product first, atleast get on with the prototype, these formalities should not be your priority as of now.

* If there is a company by the same name that I want to use in a different country and in a different sector, can I use the name of that company?

Ans: You might if the company is not that prominent. but do you actually want to do that, I mean you cannot open Wal Mart technologies, I guess you have got what I am trying to say. But avoid this because one day you might want to take your company global and then you might end up in a legal broil, I know a friend who is facing this problem.
But in India you cannot use a name which is same or similar to already registered names. The ROC will reject the name all together.

If you are running low on funds then it is better that go for a S.P, converting it to a Pvt. Ltd is not that difficult, but the issue is that the name can be taken by any other organization, so simply get the name registered, which stays valid for 6 months, the cost for this is very less as compared to the registeration of company.

Consult a CA and he will guide you, you can talk to them they will elaborate the process further and the website www.mca.gov.in can be used for further legal requirements. Also you can check the name that you have thought on this website as well.

All the facts and figures are as per the Companies Act of 1956, the new bill is yet to be debated, it was scheduled for debate in the winter session but due to 26/11 it got overshadowed, rightly so. Another reason to curse terrorism.

So Far!!!!

The idea has evolved from what it started with just high protein diet to gym going junta to a complete health solution. I have already made pitches to two companies, one has turned me down and with the other, talks are going on. Somewhere down the line I lost my focus and didnt pitch to any of the health clubs, I forgot that that’s where my primary audience lies. But finally sanity prevailed and I did pitch one of the biggest health chains of India and I am in the final stages of talks with them now. I have discussed the idea with lot many people and due to the feed backs I have improved on the idea. That’s why I feel that one should talk to as many people about the idea as one could. You never know what can be good for you. The more conservative you are about your idea the slower growth it will experience. The journey so far has been a roller coaster ride. The highs are very high and the lows are very low. At times I even get bogged down (though rarely, but yes, after all I am also a human) by the pessimistic response of prospective clients or even an arbitrary person for that matter but I have always been a self motivator so at these times I just take a 10 minute break, close my eyes and vow to myself that I won’t break and will find my way, come what may. I have been very lucky to have great people around me, they always have trust on me. I never thank them but I always thank god for giving me such good friends. That is why I have never felt the need of a co-founder, whenever I feel that something is going beyond my scope I know whom to fall upon.

The lessons so far : –

  • Talk to people about your idea
  • Cut the jargon, roll up your sleeves and work
  • No matter what find a way through the odds
  • Listen!!! Listen and listen some more, but be intelligent enough to weed the relevant stuff from the crap
  • Have friends, ask for their suggestions and be true to them!!!

“Dare !! Dream!! Risk!! Fall !! Fail !! But don’t let any one tell you that your dreams can’t be true!!! At the end of the day some one is going to do it then why not you!!! ”    –  Robin Sharma

The Denial : Finally!!!

So, after informing Aarti, Sachin, Chirayu and my family I made it a point to inform all those people who have ever affected me be it as a friend or as a critic. Though I forgot some people whom I should have informed, I am sorry for that, but you know how absent minded I can be at times.

The purpose was to keep people close to me in the loop while taking such a big decision. I also wanted to make it a point to myself that now there was no looking back.  It was out in the open so everyone knew and most of them would come to know sooner or latrer so turning back as an option was deleted. I also included my critics or whom I have considered a critic of mine in the mail because it motivates me and pushes me the extra mile to prove them wrong.

So here is what was there in the mail. It is followed by the email that I sent to HR of Schlum.

Hi
If you are receiving this mail then you have been an important part of my life be it as a friend,foe,family or a critic.
I have denied the offer of Schlumberger.
I have always evangelised that a person should listen to his heart, by taking this big decision I have just done that. I feel that it was one of the toughest decision of my life. One such decision I took when I decided to drop an year for IIT prep and that led me to the 4 most fabulous years of my life.In college I lived my life to the fullest, learnt a lot from people around me. As my days at IIT were about to be over, numerous questions regarding my life started popping up in my heart.

I had a good job, great people around me, my future was set, to say the least. But when I started delving into it I started to unravel a lot of things. I knew that I would never be happy if I didnt follow my heart. I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur, my 3 ventures which I started or tried to start in college, flopped, because I wasnt good enough. But I learnt so many important lessons, through them. Infact to be very frank, I had thought that if I didnt get a job in Schlum then I would not take any job and start my own venture. But that was very easy. God gave me a tougher decision to make, I got through Schlum; but for joining I had to sacrifice my passion. I feel that it was a true test. I thought about it a lot, before making the right decision to take the harder path. Easier path would have given me a good life in the short run but in the long run I would have been just an ordinary man leading an ordinary life in this big world without making any difference, on the other hand the harder path will have a lot of hurdles initially but if I am able to pull it off then I will raise my standards and make a difference in this world in whatever small way I can.

I am sacrificing my one passion to achieve the other,when I saw the Christ reedemer statue of Rio it was like a dream come true for me, I had already planned my shopping from my first salary like a macbook air, iphone, diesel and armani jeans, sony camcorder the list was endless. Now I know that I wont be able to any of those but I guess that is life and that is what a true test was..how much can I sacrifice to realise my dreams.

Whether the decision is right or wrong I dont know. Time will tell, atleast I would be proud of myself that I had the audacity to follow my heart when the stakes were so high.

I am working as an intern in a start up commonfloor.com and conceptualizing my own start up simultaneously, which will be in the health and fitness domain. Providing people the right kind of diet so that people can live healthy lives. The plan is in very nascent stages.
I am on a journey to discover my self and I know that I might end up losing it all, but I know I wont be defeated.

I am venturing on this path alone I hope that I would still be able to prove my critics wrong and make people I love smile and people who trust me proud.My parents dont know that I have mailed Schlum that I wont be joining them, I dont want them to know till I make it work. I know I am being a little selfish by thinking about my life.

I know that all types of questions and suggestions might be popping in your head. I respect them and I hope that you would respect mine. I welcome your suggestions and criticism.
I am also forwarding you the mail, I sent to schlum.

Best of luck !!!!
Stay in Touch!!

Dear Charmaine,
I have always believed that a person should do what really makes him happy and what his heart says him to do. I am also doing the same thing. I thank Schlumberger for making such a generous offer to me, but I would not be able to join as I have to satiate my entrepreneurial instincts.
I hope you understand and will respect my decision
Best of luck
Regards

Satya Vyas
B.Tech
IIT Roorkee

How the journey Started

I still remember the day when I decided to be an entrepreneur, it was a panel discussion organized by the Entrepreneurship Development Cell of IIT Roorkee. I got so motivated that I instantly SMSed my friends that I would be an entrepreneur. I tried 3 ventures while a student but all of them failed because I wasn’t good enough at some front or the other. But I learnt a lot. I even managed to bag the fattest pay package that an IITian can ever get, on the first day of the placements itself and that too in an unbelievable manner. I was on my way because my name wasn’t announced in the list of selected people, and I guessed the reason would have been my poor academic record and just when I was trying to figure out my life ahead, I got a call from Aarti and I ran the whole way back and then  I was told about the mistake. I was still in a shock. Congrats and best wishes followed, though some people were pissed and some stunned (again because of my low GPA 6. sth), but I always knew that I could do it. The months to follow were full of praises. I slowly and steadily started digressing from my aim of being an entrepreneur.

Amidst all the nostalgia, college days were finally over. I was in the real world. All kinds of thoughts started sprouting in my mind, which can really be dangerous for a youngster. I started thinking about my life, my future and about my purpose in life. In college one is a king of his own world, same was with me. I had my identity and of which I was and is proud of, but what next. But out in the real world there were so many like me, was I also supposed to lead such a life where I would die without making any impact on this world? My heart used to tell me that I should quit Schlum and start dietz, my venture. But in the morning my mind used to remind me of the risks that it entailed. In the end I gave up and thought of not thinking about it and landed here in Bangalore.

But those thoughts were still in my head and puzzling me day and night. I also mailed Schlum to pre pone my date of joining so that I don’t think about it much. But they never bothered to reply. I always have believed that everything happens for a reason and thus started to delve in to it all over again. “Why did I get Schlum and that too in the most unconventional way?” It was sure that if I hadn’t been selected for Schlum I would have gone ahead with my idea but that would have been too easy, so god gave me a difficult choice to make, either I take the easy path and get happy in the shorter run or I take the chance and take the harder path and I might just end up living my dream.

When this dawned on me I made the decision. I informed Aarti first, and then Chirayu and Sachin and then everyone close to me came to know. They knew me well and understood my decision. I was overwhelmed by the wishes that I received. The toughest part was to sell the idea to my parents, mummy started crying and papa thought I was getting into a lowly business of foods and beverages. But after a lot of convincing I was able to buy some time for myself. Then I had to convey it to the start up I was involved with at Bangalore. They thought that I should continue with them, but I thought otherwise. A job is a job after all. I then conveyed my decision to them.

On 16th of July I started working on my venture officially. It has been a roller coaster ride since then. I hope that I learn a lot along the way.