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How This Entrepreneur-turned-investor Built A INR 100cr-Turnover Company Rahul Agarwal talks about the challenges of entrepreneurship and what he looks for in a company while investing

By Sanchita Dash

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Rahul Agarwal

Starting your own business has become the "in" thing today and all it took was an internship at one of the biggest software companies of the world for Rahul Agarwal, founder of Ideal Insurance Brokers Pvt Ltd, to figure out that entrepreneurship was the only way ahead for him. A graduate of SP Jain college of Management, Agarwal was just 23 when he started his insurance company in 2005. And today the company has an annual turnover of over INR 100 crore.

In an interview with The Entrepreneur India, Agarwal shared interesting tales of his entrepreneurship experience.

To Start From The Start

Talking about how it all started for him, the Ideal Insurance Brokers Pvt Ltd founder said, "I always knew I wanted to start my own company. I did an internship at a firm and created a very good product but the project manager took the credit for the entire idea. That sort of worked as a trigger for me."

On why insurance and he said, "I had worked with Max Life Insurance and got some exposure. I realised that insurance has a lot of potential and insurance brokering had just started then in India. Today, we work as insurance-based risk solutions provider. If you are an individual or a company, you can outsource your insurance portfolio and we manage it for you. We assess your needs and filter out the right product."

Agarwal believes that insurance is one of the most competitive sectors in the world and that's why it became all the more important for him to build a competitive advantage.

Competitors

"All the 60-70 lakh insurance brokers in India are my direct competitors. We are focusing on becoming niche players in certain products like fleet insurance. We are also probably one of the only insurance companies to have a start-up vertical, focusing on insurance policies mainly for entrepreneurs," Agarwal said.

Today they manage insurances for many big names in the fleet industry like Meru, Zoomcar, Justride, Carsonrent and hospitality giants like Trident, Marriot, HolidayInn etc.

Handy Tips For Budding Entrepreneurs

Being an entrepreneur himself, Agarwal has a lot of advice for young entrepreneurs of today.

"Today, everyone is in a rush. My advice would be to think of the long-term goals of your company. Try to make your business profitable from Day One. Your acquisition cost shouldn't be higher than your expenses," he suggested.

Another important thing is to build a good team. "I have personally believed that having a co-founder makes your life easier. Also, don't mind sharing your company (equity) if it helps you bring efficient people on board," he advised.

Entrepreneur-turned Angel Investor

From an entrepreneur to an angel investor, Agarwal has now developed the acumen to judge a start-up. "Investments come naturally to me. It is much easier for me because I have lived the entrepreneurial journey. I look at the founders, whether they actually have passion for the idea or if they just want an exit and want to make some quick bucks. Of course, I take a look at what's the potential of a business and whether it's viable and has the ability to grow," he said.

Agarwal is a frequent speaker at some of India's top management colleges like IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Calcutta, ISB Hyderabad. Listing few of the frequently asked questions by students interested in entrepreneurship, he said, "They ask me about the challenges of entrepreneurship, maintaining a work-life balance and also about exits — when and how should they make an exit."

"I heard it somewhere recently — work-life balance is overrated. I work hard and party hard and at the same time, make sure that I spend weekends with my five-year-old daughter," he added with a grin.

Challenges

Asked about the challenges of being an entrepreneur, Agarwal said, "I can write a book on this topic. Right from building the right team to creating a competitive advantage to the execution of an idea, there are lots of challenges. It's important to build a cash reserve."

11 years into the game of entrepreneurship and Agarwal said, "I'm still learning."

Sanchita Dash

Entrepreneur Staff

Former Senior Correspondent, Entrepreneur India

In the business of news for 5 years now. Making my way across India thanks to my career. A media graduate from Symbiosis, Pune, I have earlier worked with Deccan Chronicle (South India's leading English daily), T-Hub (India's largest incubator) and Anthill Ventures (a speed-scaling platform). 

Stories, movies and PJs are my thing. 

If you hear 'The Office' opening score randomly, don't worry it's just my phone ringing. 

 

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