Adventures of an entrepreneur: The journey of a wandering soul!
Entrepreneurship is a bit like swimming. You cannot keep on talking, planning and thinking. At some point, you need to take the leap to get started, and then you discover whether you are made for it.
Much has been written on entrepreneurship, by entrepreneurs and for them. Yet, I still couldn’t resist that temptation, probably because entrepreneurship is a very personal experience, and also a state of mind.
Entrepreneurship is the activity of setting up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope for profit – Oxford Dictionary
August 1977, Pune, India, 13 years of age – I desperately want to buy The Sherlock Holmes Omnibus. It is beautifully bound and very expensive. I cannot ask dad till the end of the year. He has already paid for my new table tennis racket. I have tons of books (350+) and most of them are very popular among teens, especially the Hardy Boys series!
- August, 1977: Started a library today; modest fee, no deposit and great books
- August, 1977: Had 53 friends sign up on the first day! That poster in class really worked!
- September, 1977: I already achieved more than 50% of my target!
- October, 1977: Bought the Omnibus today! Wow!
- November, 1977: Diwali is so exciting! And we are going on a trip!
- December, 1977: Closed the library. Still have some money due and some books have gone missing; will need to write those off!
And what did I learn from this sojourn?
- Passion gets you thinking: I really wanted the Omnibus
- Necessity is a great driver of invention and discovery: I didn’t have the money to buy what I wanted
- A goal makes you stay focused: I just didn’t think about the idea, I executed it until my goal was accomplished
- Knowledge helps you win: I knew books, I had a ready market and capital in the form of books
- Goals need to evolve, or you need to shut the business down
Remember learning to swim? I learnt it the hard way – an enthusiastic instructor threw me into a well, jumped after me, and brought me up after I had swallowed half of the water in the well! I never became a good swimmer, but I learnt enough to survive. Entrepreneurship is a bit like that – you cannot keep on talking, planning and thinking. At some point, you need to take the leap (or be pulled in) to get started, and then you discover whether you are made for it.
Fast forward 20 years to 1997, when I started my first company, a friend pulled me in – I left a comfortable job and jumped! I still remember my first day in the office as a real entrepreneur (Those days, I didn’t even know how to spell the word!). Our office was a 10x10 room with just a table and us. We looked at each other and said now what?
Believe it or not, we didn’t have a plan – only the confidence that IT in Pune was growing, and we could easily make money. Not the best way to start a business, but as somebody said, if you don’t start, you won’t reach. It was important for us to get started. So my first real trip on the road to entrepreneurship started with a “now what?”
That promised to be a bumpy, exciting ride and boy, did it deliver! I have lived through a few of these trips – I remember working for a startup in the Bay Area at the height of the Internet boom, executing on crazy ideas, seeing a lot of money thrown around (I cannot complain, some of it came my way too!), and then it ended in a crash. The VCs pulled the trigger overnight. At that point, I learned a very important lesson – failure teaches you more than success does and accepting failure is very important for one’s sanity.
Oftentimes, the journey is more important than the destination. I was lucky to be part of another startup – BladeLogic. It was exactly like riding a Royal Enfield in Ladakh; cold weather, icy roads, coffee to die for and Maggie noodles that taste better than a meal in a Michelin star restaurant! And then you get to the top of the world with the wind in your face in Khardung La, controversially the highest motorable road in the world!
BladeLogic was a fun-filled (at times, chaotic) journey. BlackBerry became an addiction then (I can still sometimes feel the discreet vibration of an incoming email years after I gave up using one). Going public on NASDAQ was one heady moment. There was a lot of learning along the way – you take risks with impossible odds, but more times than you expect, a risk pays off.
We took risks, and we pulled them off. You learn to depend on people – and to tell them that you depend on them. So they not only deliver, but also become your friends for life! Sometimes you do mess up. Things seem to be too complex for everybody except you, and it is easy to forget that people will also change, like you did.
The biggest thing I have realized after spending more than 25 years into this entrepreneurship business - the journey never ends! After BladeLogic got acquired, the next stop was Icertis, and what a journey this has been!
Five years and counting, I’m having as much fun as ever before. So, as Mark Twain said long before I experienced it for myself "Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
The article is written by Monish Darda, CTO & Co-Founder, Icertis, a leading provider of enterprise solutions in Microsoft Cloud. The views expressed here are personal.
Monish Darda has over two decades of experience in the technology sector. Prior to Icertis, Darda Co-founded Websym Technologies in 1998 and helped build a strong and customer and technology portfolio as CEO. He set up and headed the India R&D operations of Storability, an enterprise storage management startup from Boston. After Storability’s acquisition by Sun Microsystems, he moved on to founding and leading the India R&D center of BladeLogic as the General Manager. He is also visiting faculty for the graduate and doctoral class at the Centre for Modeling and Simulation at the University of Pune. He has a BE in Mechanical Engineering and a Master's degree from Florida Atlantic University, USA.
Please add your comment
Ganesh BelladApril 08, 2015 at 10:37 am
What an account of your life journey, absorbing, concise and inspirational, all at the same time. Definitely appeals to that dormant entrepreneur in all of us. Wishing you many more successes ahead.
Swapnil SangaleMarch 20, 2015 at 2:14 pm
Its always great to read/hear about successful people and their journey, But its incredible to work with one of them :) Fortunate to work with you Sir! - An \'Icertis\'an.
Abin Jaik AntonyMarch 20, 2015 at 12:42 am
I have lot of superlatives to Monish . Monish is the most practical technical entrepreneur which i have met. He have clear vision of future market and latest technology knowledge to backup his products. Keep rocking Monish...!
Aniruddha BiswasMarch 19, 2015 at 4:29 pm
Excellent!! Thanks for sharing the life journey. As I was the part of Icertis for 2 and half years I can only say this was a outstanding company I ever worked in. Like to read more articles from you.
KohinoorMarch 18, 2015 at 6:18 am
This is brilliant - an incredibly powerful journey, so simply and beautifully explained! An intelligent, smart guy who\'s SO down-to-earth - they don\'t make them like you anymore. :) An inspiration. Were, are, and always will be.
PrabhatMarch 17, 2015 at 2:56 pm
Brilliant read. there is so much more to Monish than what he has explained here. I would even buy a book on him if he ever decides to pen it down :)