Raj Menon, Chief Operating Officer, Contests2win.com India Pvt.Ltd

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Sometimes life makes decisions for us and for sometimes it prods us in a direction that was meant for us. Perhaps that is destiny working behind the scenes. And destiny sprung to mind as Yourstory spoke to Raj Menon about his career and his experiences as an entrepreneur. When asked how he chose this path in life he replied “My case is fairly unique – my regular job made me an entrepreneur. I graduated out of Business school in 1998 and joined AC Neilson ORG-Marg as a management trainee. Though the job was interesting, I quickly realized that doing a “post-mortem” (analyzing and creating reports of events that have passed) was not my cup of tea. Against the wishes of my parents (who have a strong south Indian risk averse attitude),

I chose to join c2w over HLL in 2000.As I started doing well, more and more responsibilities were being thrust on me by the management.

I took each challenge as an opportunity and rose through the ranks to head the company 2 years ago. When I look back, I realize that I was allowed to do my own thing. Make my own mistakes and learn from them. I’ve tried to preserve the entrepreneurial eco-system of c2w. C2w is possibly one of the fastest growing UGC (User Generated Content) sites in India.Consumers can build trivia games around their interests using our platforms. They do this to get recognition in the community, for fun and to challenge their friends. Consumers can also earn money via Google ad-sense. Brands such as Maybelline, New York and Adidas leverage this phenomenon by wrapping around the content users create; thereby making brand ambassadors out of ordinary consumers.

He has also had a spot of trouble but it was nothing that he could not handle. As he says

"The dot com bust happened in 2000-2001. Dot com was Dot Gone. It was difficult but not impossible to get business. But when you are young, you have no preconceived notions. Nothing is impossible. I kept pavement pounding and I kept getting in the business. Convincing skeptical brand owners that the future was the internet gave me the ultimate high. C2w can proudly say that we initiated a lot of Indian MNCs like HLL, Nestle and Pepsi into the Indian internet."

For Raj, Life and career simply fell into place like a puzzle that completed itself. He says"I’ve realized that there are no co-incidences in life. One evening, way back in 2000,I watched Alok Kejriwal on Movers and Shakers with Shekhar Suman where he presented his case lucidly and brilliantly. The very next day, I met a school mate of mine, who “co-incidentally” was working for c2w and said it was a great place to work. I mailed them and got a response in an hour asking if I could do an interview. And in the blink of an eye, I had a job offer. Looking back, I’m amazed at how quickly things rolled out of my control. Leaving a cushy MNC job for what was at that time an unknown dotcom was definitely the biggest turning point of my life."

Raj was also very candid when it came to entrepreneurship versus the 9 to 5.

"I would be lying if I said that sometimes I don’t envy guys with a 9-6 desk job who keep generating reports and doing the routing thing. But, I realize that the monotony would kill me. Here, every day is a new day presenting a fresh set of challenges – People to be “handled”, clients who need to be mollified, thinking that needs to be done.

Raj is very motivated and when asked what drives him to pursue his goals he replies" The Job. The beauty of the medium is that it’s changing every day. The only constant thing here is Change. Way back, it was Netscape, and then Microsoft crushed it. AOL and Yahoo! had their place in the sun till Google came along.

Now Facebook is the “in” thing and who knows, tomorrow it could be Twitter. Andy Grove was right – only the paranoid survive. You have to constantly re-invent yourself. Constantly worry about what your consumers and brand owners want. Constantly making sure that you are on the ball and not getting outdated." "In one phrase – this job is a rollercoaster ride."

He believes that “Consumers love brands. Consumers love Entertainment.” "We believe we have a platform that empowers consumers to create content for brands and thus enable crowdsourcing. The single-minded ambition of contests2win is to become one of the top UGC entertainment sites of the world."

Raj has but two rules for success that he shared with Yourstory and its readers...

Rule no. 1: Be Relentless. Be resourceful.

Rule no. 2: Show me the money. Run your startup like a business that makes money sooner rather than later. In this environment, IPOs are out and buyouts few and far between.