Book Review: Entrepreneur Journeys, Volume 1

Posted on December 4, 2009 in The Opinionated

Anshul Tewari

Around 2 months back I mailed Sramana for a guest post at Youth Ki Awaaz. Frankly, I did not expect a prompt reply from a busy entrepreneur like herself. But to my surprise I received her mail just the very next day. Not only did she send the guest post but also recommended I review her book. Being tied up with other things was delaying the review. I was not able to read the book for a long time but when I did, I surely did the right thing.

Before starting to read the book, I had an impression that the book would be just another motivational book for people who wish to launch a business. But I was proven wrong. As Richard Rommel, Senior Vice President, Emerging Business, Best Buy said, “First-hand stories of industry legends, who succeeded with a combination of fierce resolve, self-reliance and a willingness to buck conventional wisdom…” this book is by far the best book I have read in 2009.

Containing interviews with leading tech-preneurs, this book brings forward every step, every risk, every possibility and every solution for those who wish to start a business. Sramana has personally interviewed all these entrepreneurs and has managed to present every intricate detail about their journey in the best possible manner. The book touches the various aspects of startups namely Bootstrapping, Venture Funding, Business Models, Ups & Downs in the life of an Entrepreneur etc. using a simple medium of Q&A. She also focuses on how Internet has changed the entire game of Business & why Web 3.0 is the next big thing. It contains the best business ventures, how they did it, what were the failures they faced, how they came ahead of these and how they managed to be industry leaders.

If you ask me, as a social entrepreneur myself, after reading this book I was surely motivated to take my startup to the next level, and I am pretty sure about how to do it.

I completely agree with Himanshu at Thoughts Prevail when he quotes the best excerpts as follows:

Jerry Rawls, Co-founder – Finisar

* We did not have any outside investors, so it was clear that we did not have enough money to support both of us. So, I stayed at Raychem and Frank Levinson went off and got started. At the end of the year I left Raychem and joined him fulltime in Finisar.

* While we were doing product development we supported ourselves, probably for four years doing mostly consulting work.

Sridhar Vembu, Founder of Adventnet

* We at Adventnet hire young professionals whom others disregard.We don’t look at colleges,degrees or grades.Not everyone in India comes from a socio-economic background to get the opportunity to go to a top engineering school, but many are really smart.We train them and in nine months, they produce results at the level of college grads.Their resumes are not marketable but these kids can code just as well as the rest, sometimes even better !!!

* Most attrition happens from boredom related issues.We try to keep our team motivated and challenged with interesting work, and as a result, they don’t leave.

Steve Hafner, Co-Founder – Kayak

* On working at Orbitz: I saw a company start from a few PowerPoint pages and grow to the point that when I left it was booking $4 billion a year in tickets and hotel rooms.

* In the first year or two of Kayak, we focussed on building a great product.We felt if we build a great product, consumers would stumble on it, like it and tell their friends.

Gautam Godhwani, Co-Founder – SimplyHired

* What we saw in the employment space was an incredibly large market.There is a market of $100 billion market in US alone.At the same time,the market had services that we called pain killers versus vitamins.If you needed a job,you really needed a job.If you had to hire someone,you really needed to hire someone.

One of the stories that motivated me the most was that of Harish Hande, the Founder of SELCO. SELCO Solar Pvt. Ltd, a social enterprise established in 1995, provides sustainable energy solutions and services to under-served households and businesses.

Harish mentioned, “In our company we have to think of ways to help the poor, not sympathize with them” and also, “The planet will be destroyed by those billions of people in the developing world who will be forced to use non-optimal forms of energy to meet their abolute basic needs!”. These were a few of the best excerpts of the interview with Harish.

To know more about the book and buy it click here. I strongly recommend you get a copy.

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