Success Strategies

Veteran Investor Gopal Srinivasan Spills Secrets For an Indian Entrepreneur to Succeed

"Indian entrepreneurs need the backing of their families to succeed"
Associate Editor, Entrepreneur.com
4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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A meeting with Gopal Srinivasan, the founder of the Chennai-based private equity firm TVS Capital Funds, got Entrepreneur India a closer look into his life’s beliefs and what makes his company manage assets worth INR 1,100 crore successfully.

With successful investments in growth companies such as the National Stock Exchange of India, City Union Bank, and Nykaa.com, TVS Capital Funds is set to launch to its third fund according to Indian national daily LiveMint.

In a conversation with Entrepreneur India, Srinivasan spoke about the attributes he thinks are most important for an Indian entrepreneur.

Srinivasan believes for outliers such as Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Jack Ma and Mukesh Ambani, there are no rules. But for mill-on-the-floss kind of entrepreneurs like him, 5 broad points should be kept in mind. Excerpts from the conversation:

1. The first one would be - in Bhagvad Gita, Lord Krishna tells us ‘Yogah Karmasu Kaushalam’; that is if you want to be in a state of yoga, if you want the greater Brahman and yourself to be in a harmonious calm unanimous union, you can only be in that state if you have the skills and good judgement.

"If you are capable, I would first say that is your basic requirement otherwise you will always be unhappy. You will never be in the state of Yoga as Krishna wants us to be. Yogah Karmasu Kaushalam tells us do what you are good at. Where there is no room for passion, there is no room for rational judgement."

2. Second thing what the Bhagvad Gita tells us is what we do, it is our duty to learn to love it; become passionate about it, which is a totally non-western model.

The western model works for those in the west. For Indians, we already have thousands of years of spiritual humanitarian culture. It is very important for us to follow what we have been taught from years, which has worked very well for us - do what you are good at, learn to love it.

3. The way I look at entrepreneurs is that their work must give them meaning. Our culture teaches us that purpose is not important in life. Whatever you do must give you meaning. If somebody is doing the work they are doing due to peer pressure or ‘I want to be successful in my mother’s eyes, my daughter’s son that is not meaning.

Meaning is joy in what you have accomplished. If I look at what I have done in last four years, I find meaning so I think meaning is important.

Srinivasan thinks entrepreneurship is a great thing; you must learn to love it and you must have fundamental ingredients. “So I look at those people who love their entrepreneurial work & fitting into that fabric.”

Among his other tips, he outlines managerial skills and being cross-cultural

4. If I have very poor managerial skills today, in many cases I may not be a successful entrepreneur. You must be able to manage people well and work in a team. That’s a very basic skill. Earlier team work was more important. Command and control do not work. So you must make sure you have that skill.

5. Today look at the 21st century skills, ability to communicate, cross cultural ways, within India also a Punjabi, a Maharashtrian and a Tamilian are different people in a broad generalization sense. You must be cross cultural.

He ends the interview with what he believes forms the basis of success of an Indian entrepreneur’s life.

“Entrepreneurs are successful when they are happy in what they are doing and essentially find meaning and all of that should be in bedrock of a family that supports the idea. I think people who can do stuff without family support are amazing, may be one in 5 billion but in India specially you can do things for a short while without the family support but eventually we want to go home.”

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Why Cultivating Your Skills Can Also Cultivate Your Passion