Raju Venkataraman gives insights into what it takes to be an entrepreneur
The September began this year on an inspirational note with Mr. Raju Venkataraman visiting the IIT Madras campus for addressing MBA students. Mr Raju Venataraman has recently started a new venture called MED-all which focuses on the medical brokerage markets in India. He was awarded India's best entrepreneur of the year in 2000. He had worked with Cadbury’s, then EDS and later transformed himself from an employee to an employer. He had set up the first BPO worth $400 million in India. His motive was to bring 30 thousand jobs to the country. Mr. Raju stressed on the fact that “Your strength lies in your roots not your canopy”. He emphasized the importance of thinking out of the box and moving on to a new pasture as soon as one starts getting "comfortable" with their surroundings and work. He said that it was dangerous to be in one's comfort zone for a longer time as one tends to stagnate.
There were several questions asked by young aspiring students like,” What could be done at this stage to prepare ourselves for future?”, to which he subtly said that one much not only focus on studies but also keep a broad mind and look out for things that one would not generally do, like pick up a new hobby or become a part of some club that challenges one's limits, as Mr. Raju quotes ”bite off a little more than you can chew in the hope that you will quickly learn to chew”.
He then described the qualities of an entrepreneur. They never accept the word "no" for an answer and gave the famous example of the invention of Ford's radial engine design which was born as a result of the insistence of Henry Ford to not accept 'no' for a 5 cylinder engine. He further said, that the Entrepreneurs have a 'reality distortion syndrome' wherein they do not see reality as others perceive it that because they can see the future as people can’t even imagine. An entrepreneur should produce what a customer would need, after studying the customer's profile. An entrepreneur does things rather than worrying about what others would think of him. He/she is risk taking, resilient, a doer, efficient, innovator, uncompromising, quick learner, change leader and a visionary. He emphasized on the 4 L's namely Live, Love, Legacy and Learn which guided his life at every step.
He reiterated that Competition is not as important as collaboration as one must learn to work with people. Unless one gives value to the customer, one cannot go far. He brought out the idea that if you are making money for someone else in turn you will make money for yourself. He stressed the importance of meticulous planning and taking complete ownership of things happening around you. One must have remarkable survival instincts and he gave an analogy that being an entrepreneur is like being a cockroach crossing a 9 lane highway. He reiterated the importance of attitude being the most important trait. The session was finally concluded with a quote by Lombart that summarized it all: "Winning is not everything, it is the only thing".