Episode 10 – Our entrepreneurship stories
In this episode of Spontaneous Conversations, Ravi & Rajesh share their personal stories of entrepreneurship and what has inspired them to embark on this journey. Some valuable insights to inspire you to consider entrepreneurship. Build your legacy!
Rajesh: And this is Rajesh Setty, a friend of Ravi and a [inaudible 00:00:08] entrepreneur.
Ravi: Fantastic. So, what did we select before we hit the record button today Rajesh?
Rajesh: This was going to be about entrepreneurship, something that we both have fallen in love with.
Ravi: Yeah. we are both entrepreneurs saying that…we kind of said okay, what is it that made us entrepreneurs in the first place and why is it that we have taken this journey? So I think maybe that’s why we said this is the word that we hear every day, kind of live and breathe it every day. So it would be interesting to kind of share some perspectives on what…who is an entrepreneur? Rajesh, who is an entrepreneur?
Rajesh: Yeah, It’s a good point. See basically in my opinion, because there are like a million definitions of entrepreneurs. Who is an entrepreneur? I always think about someone who sees that something should have existed to make something better, but it does not exist or it exists in a way that is not good enough. And then he says nobody is doing it. I’m going to roll up my sleeves and I’m going to make it happen. So he goes on a journey to make something that’s in his head, which he strongly feels that it has to exist to make this world better or anything. And then he rolls up his sleeves and starts on a journey to make something a reality.
Ravi: Very interesting. So you’re saying an entrepreneur sees possibilities, but everybody sees possibilities. But he’s the person you’re saying…not only sees it, but feels the fight in the belly and actually takes the steps to make the possibility a reality.
Rajesh Exactly. Exactly. And I also think that entrepreneur is someone who does not have all the answers. That is in my opinion, at least. But he is willing to take the challenge and start running, even with limited information, knowing that with the resources and the help that he will acquire along the way, he actually will find the answers.
Ravi: Exactly. Well, because they know what questions to ask because they have a sense of what the ultimate vision is. So entrepreneurs, in my opinion, are actually visionaries because they see something that other people don’t see. And so one of the challenges entrepreneurs have is being able to describe what they see. I just cannot. Imagine that I’m seeing something – a person that is invisible to everybody, but only I can see it and I’m describing this person or this entity and nobody can put their hands on it, can feel it, can see it, can touch it. I’m like what are you talking about? You sound so crazy, right? So a true entrepreneur is the one who is able to kind of put a structure to something that doesn’t exist and then create something out of it that did not exist before. So they are creators in a way.
Rajesh: Totally agreed. They also have to be good at transferring their personal beliefs into the beliefs of their target audience as if it was an obvious thing to be there. Like for example, I decide that I need an APP that is used by teenagers to learn something. Now that’s a belief that I have, the teenagers will love it. That belief, right now that App is not dead, but along the way, I had to get into the minds of these teenagers, which is my target audience, and there they now start believing that it’s an obvious thing for to do, which should have always been there. So seamless transference of beliefs and excitement to their target audience in a way that it was an obvious thing to have been existed before it exists.
Ravi: So it’s almost like you have to evangelize and then kind of create followers that they kind of believe in what you believing and feel so obvious that the ultimate buying of the solution happens because they also believe in what the entrepreneur, in fact, was missing, which now they also believe. [crosstalk 04:20]. So you are creating a list of believers in the possibilities that you are seeing.
Rajesh: Yes, and a really good entrepreneur will make the target audience believe whatever he is believing and they also start missing it in their past, which means they start thinking they should have been there 10 years ago, two years ago, my life would have been better.
Ravi: That’s a real sense of entrepreneur, right? Because how did we survive without a phone? How did we survive without chatting, right? So when an entrepreneur is able to make his or her audience ask that question, they’d be successful. That means they saw something others did not miss until they created it and made sure everybody is really attached to it.
Rajesh: Totally agreed. And I brought one book because I wanted to show it after the talk and it’s a book by – a new book by Kathy Sierra and it’s called Badness: Making Users Awesome. And she, first of all, she is one of the brightest minds on creating passionate users. [crosstalk 05:31 Ravi Really?] So…yeah, 10 years ago, she switched off from the whole Internet and everything for whatever reason, that’s outside of our discussion, we can talk about it. She came back and then she wrote this really awesome book and I wanted to share this with you. Very relevant to the conversation [crosstalk 05:46: Ravi Interesting.]…so and I’ll tell you what we take out of this book, right? In short, people think that to build awesome products, nobody can question it, you had to build awesome products. Kathy’s viewpoint is that’s like a no-brainer, creating awesome products. But what makes somebody successful is to create a product that when the users use it, they think they are awesome because they’re using it.
Ravi: Because it’s [inaudible 06:21] the user.
Rajesh: Yeah, let’s say there’s a paint program, so paint program has that feature, this feature and you can do this, you can drag and drop it, but nobody will say, this product is awesome, look at it. A really good product, they will say look how cool I am, what I created with this paint program.
Ravi: [crosstalk 06:38] It is the output of the product that makes the users feel so cool. That makes the product really cool.
Rajesh: Exactly. The product is a means to an end to make the users awesome. That sort [inaudible 06:49] it is like an eye opener because people are thinking this product has to be cool. It as to have the user experience, it has to have the slickness, it has to have the wow factor. But really what she says is people are not liking your product because it’s cool. They’re liking your product because they like themselves.
Ravi: You know, it’s interesting. I was – you actually invited me to this talk by David [A-t-a-gan-gal 07:11]
Rajesh: [Putnike 07:18]
Ravi: David Putnike, I’m sorry for misquoting his name. He said something like, create products that add dignity to the user… [crosstalk 07:18 Rajesh yea] …which is a very powerful way of saying because people are very proudly holding their cell phones in their hands today saying, look, I am wealthy, I have degree that I have an iphone, look at it. They’re not, they’re not hiding it inside, right? So products that elevate the user’s profile in society are very successful.
Rajesh: Beautifully said [inaudible 07:54]. I think ought to connect David and Kathy Sierra. They both will have an amazing conversation.
Ravi: They both … exactly have an amazing conversation. And as you were explaining about the products, I was thinking of food, I don’t think real cooks start with saying I’m going to make the best dish today. They are more concerned about the experience of the users and all the things the users are going to say, “oh my God, I had this, I had this.” So at the end of the day, it’s the experience that you leave with a user that makes the product awesome.
Rajesh: Beautifully said. Very, very good. Within what we were going to talk about, this was good about the mindset
Ravi: The spontaneity of it [laughs].
Rajesh: Yeah, I want to go back to one question. You are an entrepreneur and you have a PhD and you are very successful in your work and everything. What made you start a company?
Ravi: Yeah, it’s… when I was working in … after my PhD and for all the patents and publications and everything, there was a, I was not feeling fulfilled because I was always getting some, some jobs done. Definitely much better than other people, right? So as a working professional, because of me certain jobs got done faster and everybody was happy and I was getting promoted. But the question I asked few years ago is because of me are other people getting better? Because of me are other companies getting better? If I disappeared tomorrow is it only the job that does not get done? In which case the company can hire somebody to do the same job, may not be as fast as me, but somebody will do it. But I wanted to be, in my words, I wanted to be missed. Oh my God, the person that created something so unique that is impacting so many people is not there anymore.
Ravi: I don’t think the same level of missing would happen at regular corporate career, so I kind of said I haven’t created anything that impacts people. And so one of my definitions for an entrepreneur, which I really embody, which is why I became an entrepreneur is because of you, somebody is getting better, some communities are getting better, they’re getting better food, better water, better products, processes, faster, cheaper. Because of you, if just job is getting done, you’re as good as the photocopier, like I was talking about, nothing against photocopiers, but doing job was what I was doing. Creating something that impacts other people is what led me to entrepreneurship.
Rajesh: Very beautifully said [inaudible 10:34]. In fact, there was a specific reason why I ask this question because we know each other for years now and I know how passionate you are. I wanted to draw that passion and it was spontaneous kind of, you didn’t prepare for it. [crosstalk 10:43 Ravi Yes] …So when I ask a question out of the blue, I know the passion will come out. So and that’s something I wanted to draw the attention of users to – entrepreneurs are super passionate people. Second thing that I take away from your answers is that you saw a need that something like this should exist to make this world a better place, and that became a hole in your life. Your life became incomplete without you filling that hole of bringing this idea to reality.
Rajesh: So entrepreneurs in that sense are people that self-create holes in their life and they won’t stop until that hole is filled with the product that will serve the needs of other people that they think, whose life will get better because of those products.
Ravi: Correct. I mean, I don’t know if they will actually self-create in a way, but they identify those. [crosstalk 11:39 Rajesh yes]. Because their identification comes from some sort of feeling empty [crosstalk 11:43 Rajesh Correct]. I mean, I was at the top of my career when I was working full-time before. I didn’t have to go to work, I was still getting paid, but there was some emptiness. And I actually had a situation where I missed a very horrible accident and that’s when I felt, oh my God, if this accident actually went through and something happened to me, what is it that is not getting done? And that was what told me, oh my God, I better have lots of things that I’m doing that, that really, really miss me, rather than, oh, one more person just, is no longer here.
Rajesh: Yeah, you don’t want to be part of statistics.
Ravi Yeah. And I remember I was reading early on about Newton, sorry not Newton, Nobel. Alfred Nobel. I don’t know how true the story is, but it looks, it sounds very good – maybe it’s true. Apparently there were two brothers and one brother always got in trouble and he gets killed in an accident or in a police shoot out. And the next day the newspaper thinks, the Alfred Nobel died and they write a small obituary. It’s only four or five lines. And this guy waking up in the morning … having his coffee, and looks at the paper and – first thing could be, most people would have picked up the phone, I don’t know if there was phones in those days – would have called the reporter and said, Hey, what is it that you’re writing? I’m still alive,” but look at the greatness of the soul. He said, oh my God, if I actually died, is that world would write about me? So that transformed his whole thinking into creating these – all the companies that he created and even today we have this Nobel prize for many, many, many years that he’s still remembered.
Rajesh: Yeah, it’s what is the legacy they are leaving behind?
Ravi: Exactly. And in fact, does Stanford, has a MBA as a first project to write your own obituary. [crosstalk 13:34 Rajesh: Oh my God that….] It’s a very scary thing but it makes you think because entrepreneurs are not thinking about a job getting done. They’re not thinking about salary. They’re not thinking about this. They’re thinking about legacy.
Rajesh: Yeah, yeah. I think they must have drawn some lessons from [inaudible 13:54 ], which I’m a big staunch follower, where we deal with that at least mentally a lot because we contemplate that not only us and people, loud ones and everything, very frequently, not because we want to die, but because that will show how much we should cherish when we are living.
Ravi: Yeah, in fact, Steve Jobs in his Stanford commencement, I encourage all listeners to listen to, he actually talks about that as the most beautiful thing. So it’s not a scary thing actually. It is the most positive thing to happen that everything starts and ends and it is that dash from the year we were born to the year that we finish is what kind of value are we creating and I believe everybody in some sense should be an entrepreneur at heart and really do something very valuable. There is actually a movie called the Dash Movie. What does it have to do with? It’s because before you were born, you didn’t know. After your gone, you didn’t know. So the only time you knew is the dash period. And it is what you do by feeling that fight in the belly that’s seeing possibilities that can leave an impression on other people. It’s what a true entrepreneur is.
Rajesh: Beautifully said. And it’s a great metaphor – the dash – once you explain what it is, you can’t forget it.
Rajesh: So we are about 15 minutes into the program. Maybe we will, this, we can do many, many episodes….[crosstalk]
Ravi: we can talk about entrepreneurship for 24 hours. [laughter]
Rajesh: So maybe you can give a couple of concluding remarks. I have [inaudible 15:22]
Ravi: I think, again we talked about the importance of passion, importance of persistence, importance of resilience, importance of endurance, importance of seeing possibilities, all of that, but today’s entrepreneur has the potential to change the world because of the times that we live in. We can be local, but we can think global. And in fact, this morning I was talking to a group of entrepreneurs from Mexico and that’s … the fact that 60 entrepreneurs from in deep corners of Mexico country came to Silicon Valley and spent time with all of us and learning and going back, these things did not happen 30, 40 years ago. So entrepreneurship is about creating something in a global.
Rajesh: Yeah. My couple of comments Ravi is, I want to drop on one thing that you said, everybody should be an entrepreneur. And I want to say that that is what will make them grow very rapidly because they have to deal with uncertainty. They don’t know a lot of things, they had to learn on the go, so just because of what it will make them, it would be a great journey to take on. [crosstalk 16:34 Ravi: Correct]. The second comment, and the last comment I have is how do we increase the odds of succeeding as an entrepreneur? Again, we can talk a lot of things, but one thing that it has helped me a lot, used to have a very good balance in [inaudible 16:48], which means that there are other people who are out there who maybe would help and you pick the strongest suite that we have. There are everybody has their own strengths and relentlessly help people in your strong suite, not going to help it and say now…all sorts of things, but were you are the strongest, create a lot of value, which means your karma account is full, when the time is right part of it will come back as reciprocation, which will give you the fire power to keep moving on.
Ravi: I mean you have the right to draw from this. If you don’t deposit you cannot draw. So the karma account is a deposit account, there’s no order, right? So your karma account is the account where you’re depositing and… so called “karma dollars” which you can draw from for your own acceleration in your career. So with that closing, I encourage everybody to think creatively, to think big, and because life is short, like Steve Jobs said and not get lost in the lives of others, but stay focused to the inner voice, again in Steve Job’s words. So with that, closing episode number 10, Ravigundlapalli at metarcloud dot com. This is Rajesh Setty signing off and you can read more about me on my blog, Rajesh Setty dot com slash blog.
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