Entrepreneurship Cell, IIT Kharagpur organized - Stay Hungry Stay Foolish

By Team YS|2nd Sep 2009
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“Every idea is good, the most important thing is the commitment towards your idea,” this is what Rashmi Bansal advised to the budding entrepreneurs of IIT Kharagpur in a jam-packed auditorium on the evening of 29th August 2009. Entrepreneurship Cell organized a guest lecture by the author of the bestseller “Stay Hungry Stay Foolish” as part of its leadership lecture series. Rashmi Bansal is a writer, an entrepreneur and a youth expert. She is an IIM A graduate.  In a country where selling 10,000 copies is considered a ‘bestseller’, 100,000 copies of the book have been sold in just 9 months of its release. The book contains the inspiring stories of 25 IIM A graduates who chose to tread a path of their own making, the rough road of entrepreneurship. This book seeks to inspire young graduates to look beyond placements and salaries and believe in their dreams.

 She disapproved the myth of having an MBA degree for becoming an entrepreneur-“What we learn in MBA is all common-sense and any graduate from a reputed college/university really doesn’t need to spend two more years with formal college system. As a matter of fact, most of the successful entrepreneurs don’t have MBA-degree rather many of them are college-dropouts.”


One must be clear in one’s goal. To elucidate this point she cited the example of Sanjeev Bhikchandani, founder and CEO of Naukri.com, who decided to go to St Stephens and not an IIT for graduation, only because in IITs courses were of 5 years and in Stephens it was of only 3 years duration. Bikhchandani’s idea saw the daylight when once he visited an exhibition and it immediately struck him that the “Internet” can be used to commercially exploit the “job-seeker market”. However, this idea didn’t materialize in just few days or months. It took him 3-4 years to get funding; he had this idea of a “Job-advertisement business model” from the days he used to discuss the various openings of “Business India’s Job Ads” with his colleagues.


The “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish” author also discussed about an innovative IIT-Guwahati guy, who convinced private car owners to carry advertisements on their cars for a token amount. He used a web community for his initial research while he was studying at IIT. This example suggests that online presence though necessary should be used primarily for advertisement, marketing and market research rather than just creating a web-portal.


“Innovation is not about doing something new but doing the same thing in a new and efficient manner.”She echoed this thought when explaining about the story of Narendra Murkumbi, founder of Shree Renuka Sugars. He has become a billionaire by setting up sugar plants, an industry we associate more with politicians rather than a businessman and that too an IIM graduate. His long term perspective is that one day petroleum products blended with ethanol will be sold and then he will have a much larger market.


She suggested the entrepreneurs to fall in love with one’s idea, “for you your idea is the best.” Also one must develop decision making ability, at many points of time there may be two roads and you may have to choose one. She cautioned the entrepreneurs about the biggest reason of failures, which is interpersonal problems among the partners. We must make sure that there is clarity among the partners about the shares in the venture. So we must choose partners in such a way that they complement each other and drive the venture forward. In this respect Ashank,Ketan and Sundar from Mastek, an IT company are perfect role models, they have stayed together even 25 years after the company was found.


Regarding her own journey to success, she quoted the famous line which Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, is reputed to have asked John Sculley, then CEO of Pepsi, before hiring him as the CEO of Apple in 1983-“Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?” This particular line always inspired her to do something different. She completed her graduation in economics from Sophia College, Mumbai and further studied at IIM- Ahmedabad. She had the hobby of writing from the very beginning and so she felt disinterested in the subjects taught at IIM A, to the extent that she got 3D’s, one less than that for repeating a year.


After graduating out from IIM A, she worked for two years in Times of India for pursuing her hobby. Thereafter she took the plunge in the rough road of entrepreneurship, she started JAM(Just Another Magazine) as she felt disinterested in her job. JAM was started with an initial investment of Rs 50,000 which she had saved from her job. She started in the small servant room in her parents’ home by purchasing a computer. She showed the magazine to different companies for advertisement space. She had to undergo all sort of experiences in selling the magazine, which usually an entrepreneur has to experience for his success. Her experience puts the fact that “one should not have venture capital from day one, but the constraints of resources takes out the best from you.”


After the success of her book “Stay Hungry Stay Foolish, “and the accolades that she received for this, she realizes that her purpose in life was writing this book. This book not only talks about the rosy pictures but also the challenges the entrepreneurs face. She says,” so Stay Hungry has sold 100,000th copies but it’s the impact on individuals that makes me really happ. When people say on reading the book that they can do it - that is what I consider as success.”


In the gracious presence of Rashmi Bansal, the session witnessed the launch of all E-Cell’s competitions and Entrepreneurship Awareness Drive to be conducted in 10 cities in a time span of 10 days traversing the length and breadth of the country which will take entrepreneurship in India to greater heights. She bid adieu by asking the students to do some crazy things and “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.”

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