How does an Entrepreneur transform a coffee discussion to a product that can cater to a billion users?
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On the outskirts of Hosur, Tamil Nadu, a humble white warehouse with blue stripes is spread across 126,400 square meters manufacturing molded furniture and crates. With a staff of more than 500 people, this warehouse of Nilkamal, houses a production capacity of 11,400 metric tonnes.
Nilkamal is a brand synonymous with disrupting the Indian mindset of steel and wooden household furniture, and replacing it with plastic. In Kansas, USA, Home Goods Store stocks products from Nilkamal, thus placing India in the high quality goods market. Nilkamal pioneered the way for the plastics export market, a highly unorganized sector, with its presence in more than 30 countries globally, as of 2015.
This is the story of an entrepreneur’s dream in the 1950’s. 65 years later, “entrepreneur” is no longer a word which is ridiculed? it is an introduction. From media dedicating various segments to startups, to marketing agencies targeting entrepreneurs, and to investors profusely infusing cash in India, this refreshing change is greatly noticeable.
From an 18 year old building mobile applications to a 50 year old, retiring prematurely and starting his travel agency, the middle class mindset of having a “settled life” is shattering, piece by piece, thus making India “The Growth Hub”.The focus is shifting towards the “Indian Entrepreneurs” and watching them innovate.
Now is the ripest time for an individual to realise his dream. So how does an Entrepreneur transform a casual coffee discussion into a product that can cater to an audience of over a billion users? It requires some thinking, a lot of patience, focus and perseverance for the entirety of his/her journey!
1. It is a good time to talk. Always!
A day in a startup, well, it just starts. There are no timings and no micromanagers. Sometimes, you wake up at 7 a.m. to meet a potential client or at 4 a.m. to fix a problem, you spent the previous day obsessing over. A typical day usually starts with a hoard of mails, phone calls and brainstorming sessions. There are times when you travel for hours for a meeting with a potential client only to last for a few minutes. Priority and importance mean differently now. Your phone and laptop are your most prized possessions. God forbid you lose either one of them!
Every decision, small or big, evidently steers your startup’s ship. Smaller decisions consist of the inner battle of whether to invest in a coffee maker or to get new chairs, or even thinking about how to start a mail with a formal “Dear” or just a simple “Hello”. Medium ones are about hiring the right candidate or deciding whether to give in to a client’s demands just to get them on board. For the bigger ones though you have to read, consult and strategize. You get advised, but in the end it is you who has to choose from the several paths laid out. These big ones build the foundations of your company. These are the ones you obsessively tackle most of the day.
3. Internet, your new Mentor!
The learning curve in a startup is so steep, you barely notice how August gyrated through April. Activities like preparing business models, presentations, registering the company and renting an office space, all become a part of your agenda. Issues like where to invest the funds, is a big question. Is marketing the right way or research?
A business developer or an application developer? When do you start the long process of valuation? Do you meet investors now or when the product has enough traction? In the end, it is the internet that you look up to for all the answers. From the last minute vocabulary checks for a mail, to learning about your competitors, internet becomes your new mentor.
4. The End Result
Every night you retire a much wiser person than you were yesterday. “All in a day’s work” applies to entrepreneurs on every level. You want to make a difference and this desire fuels your perseverance. What awaits at the end of the road is the least of your concerns. For you, what matters gravely is building that dream product, which can radically change the imperfections of the worldly ways.
It took 65 years for Nilkamal to globally establish itself as brand.
The Indian mindset has steadily metamorphosed, since the days of Nilkamal’s inception. The eagerness to adopt changes, break away from stereotypical notions, and embrace technology, has rapidly bridged the gap between an entrepreneur’s journey from establishing his business to reaching out to a global audience.