“Most Entrepreneurs are fake – or simply confused”, was the opening line to a talk that I gave at a recent event in Delhi to a room full of entrepreneurs. That could have been a recipe for disaster, saying such stuff to supposed entrepreneurs, and when the exit to the room was way past all of them. Darn.
The audience of 200 odd individuals, with aspirations and dreams bigger than the world could possibly contain, fell silent for a minute hoping for me to say that I was just joking. I wasn’t though. Let me explain:
My Good mentor had two things to say: One was the question that he haunted me with for almost a year. “Success in one in a million”, he would say. The question to follow was as to whether I would still want to be an entrepreneur. One could possibly win the lottery with such oddds, he would add.
In today’s world with such feel good movies and books on entrepreneurship, such questions sound at best, outdated, doesn’t it? He even managed to go find some out-of-print books, stating tales of entrepreneurs – extremely well skilled and the best of intentions, who still ended up broke. That, was a wake up call. (For those interested, pick up a copy of Nevil Shute’s Slide Rule).
The equally weighted statement that followed, and was often repeated was this: “There is only one rule with startups”, he would say; “Birds fly, Fishes Swim and startups die.” While I gasped for breathe hearing those words, he would utter the words that were wisdom crystalized: “It takes a miracle to build a startup, and to make it succeed”
“Its nothing short of a Miracle”