- Tell us something about yourself?
I studied Information Technology and worked at a multinational software solutions company for 2 years. Realized that large companies are not where I would like to work; I went back to school and studied Entrepreneurship at North Carolina State University, US. In the next two years I headed business development at a technology startup and also co-founded a social startup for which I got selected amongst the top 75 entrepreneurs (out of 14,000 plus) at the 2012 The Power of Ideas Initiative.
- Tell us something about your business.
At SmilingStart.com (facebook.com/smilingstart) we are trying to create the best browser homepage/startpage. Users have to simply set SmilingStart as their browser startpage. Now, each time they open the browser we deliver interesting background images on the startpage. These images contain beautiful quotes, photographs of amazing places and branded creatives. We charge the brands for displaying their creatives on the startpage. 75% of this advertising fee is donated directly to the cause supported by the user.
SmilingStart aspires to be the best browser startpage by delivering images that inspire, amaze and do good. For charities this will generate significant new funds, create awareness about social causes and activate new supporters. Individuals will have something new to look forward to everyday and can contribute towards charitable causes in a way that costs them nothing. Brands get a powerful platform for display advertising and standout in the cluttered environment.
- What is your philosophy towards work?
My philosophy towards work is simple: do what you enjoy and do it until you enjoy. Sincerity is priceless. Stressing is pointless. From time to time I like to step back and see the big picture to keep track of the bigger goals.
- Whom do you admire as your role model? And why?
I do not have any particular person as my role model. Every-day I get inspired by common people I meet who are tackling challenges of life in their own unique way.
- “Management is core to every individual, organization & society.” Give your views on it.
I agree with people who say Management is as much Art as it is Science. We have to follow the best practices and also be innovative at the same time. Management covers everything, right from ideation to execution. Good management is detrimental to success for individuals, organizations and society.
- Name 3 qualities of prime importance that a businessman should possess.
1. Optimism: The belief in the idea and the ability to fulfill it is, for me, single most important quality for a businessman. Optimism breeds confidence and enforces persistence.
2. Flexibility: If plan A fails one should not hesitate to go for plan B. Successful businesses learn from mistakes and adapt quickly.
3. Story Telling: As entrepreneurs and businessmen we have to sell the dream to customers, employees, vendors, partners, investors and even to friends & family. It is very important to communicate your thoughts in a way which is compelling and convincing.
- According to you, what are the challenges for Entrepreneurship today?
1. Forming a good team
2. Social stigma with failure
3. Finding early capital
- Can Entrepreneurship be taught in B-Schools/Management Institutes/Colleges?
What can be taught: Tools and frameworks for business modeling; principles of economics and financial analysis; concepts of marketing, supply chain; HR laws and other business guidelines; case studies of successes and failures, etc.
What cannot be taught: How to negotiate, convince and persist; how to tackle team problems; how to network and capitalize on relationships; risk-taking; story-telling, etc.
Institutes can be useful in imparting theoretical knowledge; however, practical experience can only be attained by taking the plunge.
- Is the Name of the Institute from where a student pursues his/her Graduation/Post Graduation or other courses important while setting up your business?
It is nice to have a branded degree against your name but it is not detrimental. One may leverage the brand name of the college / connections to get an appointment but the deal cannot be closed on that basis alone.
- Do you think today’s economy is conducive for a new venture to start upon?
There was never a better time to startup than today. Just look at the number of VCs, accelerators and incubators which have come in the last 2 years.
- “Earning more & more is the motive behind any business.” Is it justifiable?
This is for the businesses to decide for themselves. It may come down to the vision of the company and the success metrics it sets for itself. Businesses ‘earning more & more’ is not necessarily a bad thing because it is good for the economy and the benefits get passed to the society. At SmilingStart we believe in a model which is sustainable, supports high growth along with making a meaningful contribution towards the society.
- Share with us the most enjoyable moment you had experienced on work.
I was explaining the concept of SmilingStart to the CEO of an advertising agency even before the company was formed. His eyes lit up and he said this is beautiful. That gave me a lot of confidence and has to be one of the most enjoyable moments at work.
- Your feedback for BMS.co.in?
BMS.co.in is a good initiative connecting the industry and the academia. Students get valuable tips, guidance and management information. Focus on startups is what I like the most.
History- Incorporated in November 2012, Mumbai.
Vision/Mission- Engage masses in a simple yet powerful way to create a significant positive change.
Products & Service- SmilingStart.com Browser StartPage Service