Here is a speech Ganesh gave to the students of National Institute of Technology, Jaipur on Entrepreneurship.
I have learnt some of the greatest lessons in my life by embarking on adventuresome activities, such as going on a long distance cycling expedition. I have applied those lessons in entrepreneurship and in some way I feel entrepreneurship is like long distance cycling. I’ll tell you why I feel so.
Last year, that is year 2011, some time during February or March I was not associated with any organization either as an employee or as a student. I was pretty much on my own. I had not started FluxGen but I was doing some minor experiments on solar and stuff. I was in no hurry hence I was taking my own time in going about setting up the business. During that time I came to know that a friend of mine, Jonathan Fernandez, was planning to do a cycle trip to his home that is Goa, from Bangalore – well it is about 600 and odd kilometers.
Being an adventure seeker, I was thrilled about the whole idea. I met Jonathan soon after hearing the idea and we started discussing. Considering the fact that none of us had done much of cycling for many years we decided to do some short trips before planning for the Goa expedition. In next couple of months, we did couple of one day trips of about 150kms and then did a three day trip to Chennai (from Bangalore)- it’s about 350kms. We did a few more expeditions with other friends as well. And finally we were ready to do the Goa expedition.
We did it pretty much like we had dreamt of doing it. It was a fantastic experience. I still think about that trip a lot. I am going to share with you few interesting instances during our Bangalore- Goa cycling expedition..
The first day of the expedition, when Jon and I had completed about 80kms, we met a person by name Uday on the road. He was going on a scooter. He was kind of curious to know about us and our expedition. He enquired about it. When I told him that we were going to Goa he was thrilled and was keen in assisting us in some way. He offered us lunch at his place and also spoke to his friend who was about 70kms from that place to give us shelter and arrange dinner for that night. Well his friend, who was an absolute stranger just like Uday, took good care of us that night. We could only thank those gentlemen.
There is another incident I remember very well. Jon and I at times had very asymmetric speed, sometimes he was ahead and sometimes me. Once when Jon was very ahead of me, about 10kms distance, my cycle got punctured. I had the puncture kit but I had never used it before. I was trying to somehow fix it and then there were some villagers who came to my rescue. With their help I could get the puncture fixed. Similar incidents happened a few more time during the trip, and we could crack it with the help of people around. Long distance cycling is prone to uncertainties and with experience a cyclist would learn to tackle it.
The last thing I would like to share about the trip with you is the stuff we carried during our entire journey . We had planned to complete the expedition in four to five days. Since all through out the trip we had to carry the luggage on our shoulders or on the cycle, we had to be very economical on the weight we carried. Jon and I did a very calculated decision on carrying necessary stuff, because of which we had to compromise on our daily comfort. After the whole trip we hardly found it as any kind of discomfort. The life style that I got used to during my time on such expeditions has pretty much changed my lifestyle forever. The point that I am trying to make here is that our prime focus was in completing the expedition in a stipulated time limit and we managed to complete the expedition with the least possible we could do with.
Coming to the entrepreneurship part, which is what I’m supposed to speak, here is what I see the similarity with the long distance cycling. There are some things that are very obvious which I leave you guys to figure out but things that I really want to emphasis I’ll speak here
I believe, the stuff you want to do should definitely be daring and exciting. If it doesn’t excite your mind then probably you will not be able to go for long. Goa trip would not have happened had I was not super excited about it. And another thing, it will happen, you shouldn’t be thinking about it all the time, you’ll sooner or later feel the excitement on some stuff you come across and then you may wish to take it tothe next level.
The first step you take matters a lot. It could be a tiny tiny step, but it still matters.The first step may not be taken with complete logic or planning. Most of the time, thefirst step is taken with faith.
Once you have taken the big leap of starting a business, you will be encountered with several problems and issues. I believe, any issue or a problem can be divided into smaller and smaller parts which may be solved by applying first principles. The confidence to divide any problem statement into multiple small problems will make you capable of tackling any problem that you come across or the problem you define.
While you become confident of taking up a tough venture, you will always find people around you willing to assist you. I’d like to mention a Sanskrit quote :“Dhaiyramsarvathra sadhanam” – Courage is applicable everywhere. Courage for a good cause is that kind of human spirit that will always be appreciated and encouraged– so don’t feel alone when you are doing something that makes sense with a bit ofcourage.
While you will find many people interested in assisting you out, I should also warn you that the formulas that you will hear from people for success are many but what would fit into your equations is your job to figure out. Sometimes you may have to do all the mistakes yourself to figure out, while sometimes you may be in a position to just learn from others mistakes but what you should remember is that no two realworld problems are exactly same.
Coming to the most important part, the focus on what you want to do is very important for many reasons. You may be limited by factors like money, time,expertise etc. With these limitations sometimes you may think you are in a deadlock.But the truth is everybody comes with some or the other limitations. I believe, that with a focused attention and taking calculated risk on things that you really want to do you will be able overcome any limitation and many a times you will convert your disadvantage to some advantage – I’ll not tell you how, I’ll leave you to experiencethat thing yourself.
With this gyan that I may have acquired during last couple of years I’ll end my talk. All the best, take care!
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(The speaker wishes to thank Dr. Mathur for giving an opportunity to speak, Nikhil and Mitavachan for introducing Dr. Mathur, Rishika for insisting the speaker to prepare for the talk and Nitesh for correcting the grammatical mistakes in the speech)