Excessive Obsession with an idea can ruin a start-up: Satyajit Majumdar

Are you a start-up or planning to launch one and consider your idea to be the greatest in the world? If that be the case, this article is a must read for you. Just read what the global expert on start-ups have to say about your venture..

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Please tell us something about yourself?

I am a Professor at the Centre for Social Entrepreneurship of the School of Management and Labour Studies at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai and teach entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, strategic management, growth and technology strategy, corporate social responsibility and service operations management. I also mentor entrepreneurs and start-up organizations.

Tell us your responsibilities with the government?

I hold several advisory positions; the prominent ones are – Member of Governing Board of National Innovation Foundation of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, Member of Steering Committee on Biotechnology Based Programme for Societal Development, Department of Biotechnology.

(Laughs) Idea has no value unless it does something. The question is what the idea would do. Doing is more important than thinking. I am not stopping people to think but they should do something. The implementation of the idea is important. I always ask the entrepreneurs what they did, what problems they solved. Failing is not an issue but what is important is whether something has been done or not. The questions are tough but entrepreneurs must find the answers. I just try to add value.

Why start-ups fail?

I would differ on this question because failure is not just related to Indian start-ups. The global scenario is no different. We are almost at par with the global failure rate. But we should not fail. Start-ups should dive deep and find the issues that they can solve. Of course, not all the problems can be solved by them. Here, the education and mentoring plays a very important role.
Start-up should know the problem they are solving, have they got any customer or even one customer on board. What is the customer telling them about the start-up? These are the hard questions which have to be answered. We cannot create enterprises on excel sheet. It comes later. I think the preparation is important. But still Indian start-up ecosystem is maturing. I expect the failure rate will come down.

Do you think too much love with an idea can be fatal for a start-up?

Yes obviously. Excessive love for the idea could be another reason for the failure. It’s actually a global problem. It becomes a million dollar idea only when it works. To put it simply, your idea is great only when the customer starts loving your idea. I always give example of Steve Jobs who stayed with the problem longer than others.
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Is investment necessary for early stage start-ups?

First tell me, how many successful start-ups have started with investor fund? Initially, there are family and friends who trust your passion and dedication. Investor comes later. They would ask start-ups in terms of generating business, customers, profits or losses but first your near ones who believe in you. Look at successful start-ups across the globe. They all started bootstrap.
Tell me one great start-up that started with investment from day zero. We are all running after ideas but ideas should be scientific and problem solving. Start-ups should mingle with the dust to get success.

How you view Covid for start-ups?

Covid has opened basket of new opportunities for start-ups and has proved to be a game-changer. The week is being waded out. Those who have courage will survive. Covid has also brought more technology adoption and innovation. Start-ups have to see the future and they cannot be orthodox. Start-ups should realize that technology has become a God. They should scan the political, socio-economic environment to attain success.
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Do you think Covid or falling GDP could affect Investors mindset?

I don’t think there would be any impact as Investors are smart enough and they know how to navigate through the situation. I don’t think this GDP loss is going to be any issue. Even government is becoming an aggressive investor. It is simply saying to solve the problem and have investment. There are plenty of government programmes focusing on technology. The government is articulating Artificial Intelligence (AI). We have a very strong technology outlook. GDP cannot be any deterrence.
Thank-you sir for giving your time to Chalgenius.

Views expressed by the author are personal.

Keywords: Chalgenius, start-ups, entrepreneurs, TISS, risk, covid
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