When the ‘bad boy of startups’ asks a question on Facebook about what to do next with his venture, you cannot really blame the Internet when people go crazy.
This ‘bad boy’ of Internet, as you must have guessed, is none other than Rahul Yadav. Why is he called that? Well, he has a vibrant history.
Rahul Yadav was one of the former CEOs and co-founder of Housing.com, a real estate portal, who dropped out of IIT Mumbai to start the venture. All went well for some time, but last year in March the news of conflicts between Yadav and investors were heard where he asked investors to ‘stop messing around with’ him. The clash got a little out of hand when on July 1 a collective decision by the board was taken to oust Yadav by the very company he founded and built. The given reason being, “The board believed that his behaviour is not befitting of a CEO and is detrimental to the company.” Now that does not happen to your everyday 'garden-variety' entrepreneur, does it?
With all this happening, it did not take a lot of time for Rahul Yadav to receive both criticism and appreciation from the startup ecosystem. Where some found his arrogance ‘a recipe for disaster’, others saw a “hint of Steve Jobs” in him. His polarizing personality received much attention from the startup world and hence, he became the very much liked ‘bad boy of startups’.
What is Intelligent Interface (ii)?
In September, Rahul announced his upcoming venture called Intelligent Interface (ii) on Facebook.
The startup is an eGovernance startup currently in the development stage. The startup was created for the Government departments that will help them use internet and technology tools to save costs, besides expediting service delivery. At a Flipkart event held last year, Yadav said that a single simple online rental agreement can help the government save nearly Rs 2,000-3,000 crore.
Created with much hopes, Yadav expected to get his first contract from government by the beginning of this year. He also said that the venture has very powerful people on the board. Some of them being Flipkart's Sachin, Binny Bansal, Micromax’s Rahul Sharma, Paytm’s Vijay Shekhar Sharma and Yuvraj Singh’s YouWeCan Venutres. Now when these names get together, everyone knows that a startupto look out for is coming is coming to town.
To everyone’s shock, on May 20th Rahul posted this on Facebook, and internet went into a tizzy.
Now when you post something like that on the internet and you have a great following, receiving weird comments gets inevitable. With everyone holding their opinion, many want him to come back to real state claiming his ‘real estate mission is still incomplete’ and he is ‘made for real estate’; others want him to go ahead with the enterprises as the ‘the country is not mature enough for the same’ or to ‘start on boarding partners (IT companies) who can sell ii solution’.
Internet being the weird place it is many other crazy options are also being given to Rahul, for instance getting into ‘something related to social network because of his really good fan following and attention media gives him’ and also trying different departments in the government itself, like railways. Rightly said, the internet never runs out of opinions, and now it’s up to him which one to choose.
What could be the best option for him?
Now given his history with Housing.com, going back to real estate means that he has a solid experience at hand, the right contacts and of course, and new ideas he couldn’t have used last time.
But looking at the need of the hour, in my opinion, our government could use a better interface Rahul promises to provide. Compared to other nations, our technology is still far behind when you talk about data visualization and advanced analytics. A little help here to the government and a little more effort by Rahul could go a long way.
Why do ventures working with government tend to fail?
This is something said by Mahesh Murthy, founder of Seedfund, and Mudit Narain, VP of New Initiatives that government is not a good first customer but a great follower. An entrepreneur should never sell a new product to the government first.
Agreeing with this statement, I think that people keep blaming the government for not playing their part of the role. They should be criticized when needed, no doubt, but their pattern should have been understood by now. There is a gap left by the government and it is entrepreneurs and enterprises like these that fill them.
Instead of making the government your first customer and then blaming them when the model was not followed, sell to commercial sector. When you have a stable team and market, then scale up with government.
With all said, we leave the mic for Rahul to announce what he plans next, because whatever he does, it will be talked about.