23 Things We Learnt In 2023 From CEO's, Founders, Actors, Influencers And Businessmen Startups. Losses. Success. Downfalls. Common sense. Climate change. Over the last year in our interactions with CEO's, founders, actors, influencers and businessmen, we've had conversations about several topics, including the ones stated above.

By Kabir Singh Bhandari

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Startups. Losses. Success. Downfalls. Common sense. Climate change. Over the last year in our interactions with CEO's, founders, actors, influencers and businessmen, we've had conversations about several topics, including the ones stated above. Crystallizing learnings from all their interviews, we've chosen these 23 learnings for the end of the year.

Some are tips on business, others are experiences and the rest are simply facts that these individuals have realized and may be of use to different versions of us at varying times in our life. So, here are 23 things we learned from them in 2023:

1. "In navigating the next decade or two, the convergence of mega-trends like climate change, geopolitical shifts, and supply chain dynamics becomes pivotal for investors and advisors. Recognising climate change as a primary catalyst for economic success or peril, we've embarked on a journey towards a green frontier economy rooted in digitisation and decarbonisation. The intersection of digitisation, epitomized by UPI and India stack, with decarbonisation through renewables, electric vehicles, green hydrogen, and biofuels, defines India's progressive model. Net zero isn't just a response to a crisis; it's a net positive for GDP, job creation, and our planet": Jayant Sinha, Chairperson of the standing committee on Finance, Parliament of India.

2. "Our customers don't care about seeing me or seeing any of the other members of the management team. In fact, in our business, our belief is if our customers need to see us that means we've done something which is terribly wrong. Ideally, I don't want our customers to ever have to call us. And I think philosophically the idea is also that the institution is more important than the individuals. The brand of the company is more important than the brand of management and that's sort of why in the business that we're in and these kinds of sectors, it's the right choice": Sahil Barua, CEO and Co-Founder, Delhivery.

3. "As simple as it sounds, business value creation comes from solving a problem. The point here is when you solve a problem in order to create business value it has to be a real problem and it has to be a large problem. Both of these factors are extremely important. In fact, I'm reminded of an ex-colleague of mine from private equity who said, 'Most of the young start-ups in India fail because they try to solve a problem when none exists": Hardeep Singh, CEO, 7-Eleven.

4. "There is a level to which the government can invest in new businesses. However, beyond certain areas, the region of growth has to be take undertaken by entrepreneurs" Harsh Mariwala, Chairman, Marico Limited.

5. "When I speak to my children I tell them be kind. I think in this world of technology, where everyone wants to be ahead of each other, I think we all need to take a step backwards and just be kind, be thoughtful" Lathika Pai, Country Head, Microsoft, VC and PE Partnerships.

6. "The chemical composition of tyres is such that they're not decomposable or biodegradable. You leave a tyre for hundreds of years on the ground, it will stay intact, nothing will happen to it. This makes it a breeding ground for mosquitoes, rats and snakes, as water gets clogged in it. If you burn the tyre, it will release chemicals that are toxic in nature and if you let it remain on the land it will make the land barren": Tushar Suhalka, Founder, ReGrip

7. "Acquisitions have been a crucial part of our journey in the last seven years. We used to cater to certain specific exams earlier but wanted to expand, entering into categories such as the UPSC. We had two choices- one to build inside and other to look outside and acquire some company. So for us I think two things which matter the most is that there should be synergy when we combine both the entities together. For example, when we are acquiring the company, we had the tech, having invested many years in building the technology. As soon as we identified that they had great content, we realized that by fitting in the right technology we can create huge value. That is when we understood that this is the right acquisition for us. Secondly, if we would have built it on our own, being a totally new territory, it would have taken us a few years, and we wanted to save all those years": Anil Nagar, CEO and Founder, Adda247

8. "Over the last few years angel investing has become quite fashionable, but I think it's a serious approach that one should take. As family offices are evaluating this, it's an honest conversation that the family needs to have and understand how committed they are to making this alternative investment. It's about their allocation strategy because running an arm to evaluate opportunities and take them to a successful exit requires a lot of time and effort. Basically, the question that our family office should ask is how committed are you, how many resources can you actually allocate to that and based on that take a call whether you want to do it directly or perhaps take a fund to fund approach": Gaurav Gulati, Founder and MD, Aroa Venture Partners.

9. There is no one right approach. It all depends upon how the family office is structured, what they are looking at and how within the family office seeding of control is given to the younger generation. Also, for promoters are looking at new capital, family offices is can be a very good option because you need patient capital. That is where family offices can actually be a playing an important role into the whole ecosystem of what we are going through currently. So I'll summarize as saying you know you have to find what is good for you and see how it can evolve and move forward" (Speaking on the change in family offices' approach to investments in startups): Brijesh Damodaran, Co-founder and Chief Investment Officer, Auxano Capital

10. "My dad would sell saris on the footpath in Kolkata and later on we shifted to Bombay. As kids, we would buy candy floss outside Amitabh Bachchan's house and try to catch a glimpse of him. When my dad made the original Bade Miya Chote Miyan he narrated this story to Mr Bachchan": Jackky Bhagnani, Producer, Pooja Films

12. "I think what college gave me was a great understanding of a lot of concepts and some level of practicality too. So what it helped me with was that in the first week of work, I wasn't struggling. I knew a lot of things in terms of the concepts and had to figure out how to adapt it to the Indian context and to my specific business and industry": Shaswat Goenka, Chairman, Spencers Retail Limited.

13. "With a deep dive and intensive search on a variety of factors such as audience demographics, engagement rates, and relevance to the client's brand we pick the best influencers for the campaign. Once the campaign is launched, we closely monitor its performance, tracking key metrics such as engagement rates, reach, and conversion rates. This enables us to make real-time adjustments and optimizations to the campaign's components, ensuring maximum impact and ROI": Prashant Nagar, Founder, DigiWhistle

14. "Everything that any other boy in the restaurant did, I had to go through. Whether it was in the kitchen, managing the floor, helping to clean the place or seeing the customers off. I would take all the brick bats that were thrown at me when a customer was drunk and didn't like something and take every shot on me when it came to the food not being right. So I think everything that that a young man needs to go through in the food and beverage industry my father made me experience": Suniel Shetty, Actor and entrepreneur

15. "When I was a young adult I had a lot of climate anxiety because I always wondered about questions such as what would happen when all our natural resources are finished? How will I survive? I love my family so much, but will I be able to protect them? As an adult, I realized that I have these questions, but I'm not doing enough about it. Till a couple of years ago whenever I spoke about it, people would like shut me away or shush me and say, 'Oh, this is not a real problem.' But with everything that we are going through, I think it's very clear that climate change is real and that's why we started Climate Warrior, an advocacy platform about climate change. And I feel like this is not my battle alone. This is a battle that all of us need to join hands in because I truly believe that climate change is the largest growing threat that humanity will face": Bhumi Pednekar, actor.

16. "I remember growing up in my home, with a single TV household where the entire family used to come together and watch shows and movies. We made the customary trip to the theatre nearby to watch the latest movie. All of us have grown up on outstanding but admittedly a select set of shows and movies, which helped us all have a shared experience. Even as recently as ten years ago, we were still all cued into a slightly more tightly defined set of entertainment. Look at it now. We have the world's entertainment at our fingertips anytime, anywhere, access to, the stories from around the country and around the globe. We have storytellers really bringing forth ideas, concepts that we really haven't had the opportunity to bask in for a long time": Sushant Sreeram, country director, Prime Video, India.

17. "In the comments section people would ask me about stock market, finances and other issues, which I had always assumed that everyone knew just like me": Neha Nagar, finfluencer

18. "I would make my friends and family follow accounts of top influencers so that they could tell me what they were doing and what I was missing out on, so that I would improve myself": Jai Arora, tech influencer.

19. "Through their content, content creators have become brands by themselves. Influencer and actor Prajakta Koli was invited to the United Nations and at Davos. The reason a young creator was invited there was because these elite groups which have their walled gardens also want people to see what is happening within their walls- and hence the need for a Prajakta to showcase it to the world through her followers:" Roshan Abbas, Founder, Kommune India

20. "Let's say you go to Google and like a photo, eventually downloading it. Then anyone can use it easily, but with NFTs, whoever the owner of that image is controls rights to its usage:" Artur Kachur, Co-founder and CEO of 3*4.

21. "It's all about ownership. For example you have a huge Twitter following, but ownership for that platform is centralized. If they block your account you will either have to fight with them or go to court. However, in the web 3 world, no one can block your account. Even if someone bans your account, you can move to another client": Prayag Singh, Co-founder, SOCLLY.

22. "I still remember we were so excited that we wanted to celebrate with a cup of chai at the nearby tea stall. But there was a challenge, our dog Pai. We were afraid that this naughty dog would damage the sensor sheet in our absence. So to protect it from it from him, we placed it under the mattress and left. When we were back we found him sleeping on the same bed. To our surprise the sensor placed under a six-inch mattress was capturing his heartbeats perfectly. This was our eureka moment! Thanks to Pie we made the sensors contactless. This also inspired the name Dozee, because all that the user had to do is sleep or doze on it and it monitors your health. We knew being contactless was going to be our biggest differentiator, but we wanted to be 100 per cent sure that we are as accurate as ICU grade equipment before we launch it in hospitals. That's when we collaborated with specialist labs to train our AI algorithms and it took us about four years to do that": Mudit Dandwate, Founder, Dozee.

23. "There has been a much-needed shift in the system. I am seeing women taking the lead at different levels in almost every industry. Talking about The Good Glamm Group –two out of three the co-founders are women and approximately 60 per cent of our employees are women. There's always a sense of great power in leading by example and it's exciting to see how women are turning the tide in all domains of life. It's still a long way to go but there's nothing that hard work, determination and perseverance cannot help achieve. I truly believe that 'You can't be who you can't see' and as more and more young women see female entrepreneurs being celebrated, it will give them the hope and encouragement they need to one day be entrepreneurs themselves or being at the top of their profession": Priyanka Gill, co-founder, the Good Glamm Group and CEO, the Good Media Co.

Kabir Singh Bhandari

Senior Assistant Editor

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