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Mentors are like the grandparents of startup world. They are filled with experience and wisdom up to the brim and both are equally eager to share every bit of it.
A mentor could be anyone. You can find one in your investor who can give you a brilliant piece of advice at the blink of an eye that makes you think, “Did he just think of that?” Or they could also be someone you’ve spent your whole life with. Someone who inspired you every day growing up. At the end, what matters is how far they’ve taken you with them and changed you into this new mature person you didn’t even know could exist.
We asked entrepreneurs who have been the mentor(s) in their startup and what they have learned from them and they have some pretty powerful stuff to say.
My investor who taught me to focus on the real metrics - Shachin Bharadwaj, CEO, SMINQ
Chetan Shah has been my mentor on my entrepreneurial journey from day zero. He was also our angel investor in TastyKhana.
The biggest learning I’ve got from him has been to focus on real metrics like revenue and user growth. He strictly believed in not building a business on hype and I followed that ever since.
My dad who taught me to handle failures- Prakash Dantuluri, Founder of Bulbulapps
My first inspiration was my dad. My dad during his youth was a famous magician. A magic trick requires a lot of preparation. What many people don’t know is that a lot of times magic tricks don’t succeed. But the magician always prepares for the failure as well. So he handles that failures and eases the audience into something else.
A lot of people think that my demos and presentations always awesome. Many a times my demos and presentations fail. It’s just that people don’t notice because I am always prepared for it.
During my working years, almost every boss and colleague I worked with inspired me one way or another. I learned selling from my partner Venu Dantuluri. Together, pretty much, we can sell anything. I partnered with Sridhar Gadhi, founder and Chairman of Paradigm group of companies, for a venture called Paradigm Creatives. I learned discipline, being passionate against all odds, staying in for the long haul from him.
My mother who handled everything and made it look effortless - Ashwin Jain, Co-Founder of Driven
I am inspired by my mother her deep commitment to family and the business. She managed the business of 4 wheels from inception in 1981 to 1997 and demonstrated anything is possible if you put your mind and soul behind your dream or work that you are passionate about. From being a wife to being the mother of 3 growing kids to being a business manager, she did it all and made it look effortless. In her passing, she also taught me that it was important to live your dreams and make them come true. Not wait for them and that’s what has pushed me all along.
No matter how big and far you get, maintain the simplicity in your life. - Deepak Ravindran, Founder & CEO, Lookup
By far my mentor and role model has been Kris Gopalakrishnan, one of the co-founders of Infosys.
The biggest learning I got from him was humility. No matter how big and far you get, maintain the simplicity in your life. In other words, work more, worry less. Despite being one of the richest Indians in the world, he leads a simple life and is the most humble of all people. That is how I want to define my life as well.
The three strong women in my life and my dad-Ashwini Ashoka, CEO and Co-founder, Mad Street Den
My mentors are Genevieve Bell and Lama nachman - two amazing women at Intel , who I think did much more entrepreneurial things sitting inside Intel than most people I know building startups. I've had some strong women by my side through this journey and they're definitely two of them.
The other two people are my mom and dad. At 60, my dad decided to go to China one day, attend a trade fair on Chemicals and Perfumery, find a large Chinese company and he became their consultant and eventually their country manager. He had his own bio fuels factory in the village briefly at 63.This man... he's unbelievable.
My mom had one of the most famous boutiques in Chennai in the 90s, sourcing clothes from the strangest of villages and cities in Tamil Nadu and I wish she still had it - she was the queen of customer success and business development. Even though she had it for just a few years, I can't begin telling you how entrepreneurial she's been in her life in general, given the circumstances she grew up in and the tough life she's faced. Entrepreneurship is not so much about starting up - it's about building a set of qualities that make you build and run an empire successfully.