Bhavin, the man behind the exponential growth of Directi from a startup in 1998 to a global web products company with over 6 businesses, 20+ products, 500+ employees and millions of global customers is the face of the new Indian entrepreneurship.
Bhavin Turakhia`s entrepreneurial journey began while he was in school, more precisely when he was in class 6. While kids at school were busy playing, Bhavin would spend every minute of the waking hour with his first love-computer. The man who continues to build immense value with an unquenchable ambition for growth, shared some of the key/real lessons with entrepreneurs and wannabe entrepreneurs at Siliconindia “Startup City” in Mumbai. Excerpts of the talk..
Lesson 1: Choose a career in something you will gladly do for free
Back in school, each of us who chose Computer Science as an elective subject had a very limited time with the computer. So, we would get the keys for the computer lab and spend 3-4 hours everyday in front of the computer after school, hacking every program and working on elaborate programming for gaming etc. I spent countless hours after school exploring BASIC and other programming languages on my own. I couldn’t wait for the sun to rise and spend every minute with the computer all over again.
Lesson 2: Read a lot, there is absolutely no substitution
I read tons of books while in school and realized that some of the best lessons are learnt through biographies of various entrepreneurs. Reading teaches you a lot of stuff that you probably wouldn’t have learnt in school and college. I have like any successful entrepreneur spent a lot of time reading. I read various manuals and books to teach myself, what perhaps even my teacher did not know. By 9th Grade, I was taking extra lessons for students and teachers after school hours.
Lesson 3: Have conviction in yourself
In 1996, when I fished my 12th, I realized that most of the stuffs that were offered at Computer Science in college were already something that I had done at school. It didn’t make sense for me to spend another 4 years at college and then start something on my own. Everybody told me I was doing the biggest mistake of my life. But, I had the conviction in my self and if I didn’t have conviction in myself, Directi wouldn’t be there today.
Lesson 4: What you learn on your own, is equally important to what you learn at school or college w.r.t Entrepreneurs.
I spent a significant amount of time learning about my business and technology etc during the 3 year of my college. For most entrepreneurs, whatever amount of learning their have done outside of their curriculum have been most significant.
Lesson 5: If you are going to spend time thinking, Think BIG
When the internet came to the country, I was totally hooked on to the internet. Being able to transmit data from one end of the world to another in real time fascinated me. I was very clear I wanted to get into this space.
Lesson 6: Don’t keep thinking, just do it
I started a company called BITs and PCs – Computer Hardware. Its failed, it didn’t really grow big but I had a great experience. For the next 4-6 months I tried my hand at selling hardware, I had a great learning experience, didn’t make much money rather lost some. I also started a company called “The Web Spinners” though it didn’t work either but again a great learning experience.
Lesson 7: If you think you can or you think you can’t you are right both ways
What you believe is what becomes your reality. Think positive and don’t sweat over small stuff.
Lesson 8: Thinking ahead of time is not really effective. Being a “First Mover” is actually a disadvantage
In 1996, I started taking up consulting assignments and in a year, Directi was a registered domain name. One of the earliest products of Directi was a job site engine that I programmed called the AI algorithm, matching and other search queries were extremely sophisticated for the age. Unfortunately that again failed as the software required high traffic to work efficiently and internet penetration was really low at that point of time. That’s when I realized that my software was ahead of time and its not necessarily great product that leads to success but great timing too.
Lesson 9: If at first you don’t succeed try and try again
Any successful entrepreneur would tell you that they never got it right at the first time. The initial failures only propelled them to challenge themseleves and excel.By 1998, I had already failed three times. I assimilated all the learnings by then and worked on building a fundamental product and services company
Views from the sidelines by Samridhi Sharma, Mumbai