Scaling up: Balancing Purpose and Profits - learnings from Ennovent's Thought Leader Session


What truly defines the success of an entrepreneurship event is speakers openly pouring their hearts out. The interactive sessions at Ennovent’s Thought Leader Session on ‘Scaling Up: Balancing Purpose and Profits’ saw Neelam Chhiber, Founder, MotherEarth & Ashwin Naik, Founder Vaatsalya, open their hearts out to the fullest yesterday. Sanjay Anandaram, Venture Partner, Seedfund & Co-Founder, JumpStartup, shared his invaluable experiences with the curious listeners and also did an amazing job as the moderator in the event. It was a delight to listen to all three speakers as they shared quite a few insights about the industry, business & key challenges in scaling up in the for profit sector.Capturing the essence of an evening of learning, here are some of the key highlights from the discussion:

(L-R) Sanjay Anandaram, Ashwin Naik and Neelam Chhiber

On difference of business models of a for-profit social enterprise and any other business.

Neelam: It is like any other retail business for us with absolutely no difference. We have to scale in order to hit a bottom-line. Specifically, in our field we have more supply than demand. Collaboration plays an equally important role in the business development though it didn’t impact ours much. At the end of the day, to get it right, one has to keep trying out various options to land on to the most efficient one for the growth of an organization.

Among so many things going around, what keeps you moving on?

Ashwin: At this stage, for me it is primarily the enthusiasm and energy of the team mates which pushes me to go an extra mile with my efforts.

On raising capital and its impact on running the venture

Ashwin: In current scenario, people want to be a part of the story of India & its growth. They take pride & joy in being a part of the initiative. There’s a golden rule of investment – “Whoever has the money makes the rules”. So, just wait for the ball to come to your court to play the game your way. There will always be some disconnect between the founder and the investor but that shouldn’t affect the plan of action. Vaatsalya, launched their first hospital within three months of raising capital.


Sanjay: There are over 3 million NGOs working in India currently out of which almost one-third are devoted to the education. Somewhere, NGOs exist because GOs are not fulfilling their duties well.

Curious audience at the session

On hiring process

Ashwin: We are not in the business of healthcare but in the hiring business. At one level, we need to have our entire focus on team building. I’m a bit biased against MBAs because of some not very fruitful experience. I prefer people who have accomplished something beyond what was expected from them. Next important parameter would be the alignment to the job we’re hiring.

Neelam: We pay competitive salaries and offer stock options to our employees at par with the market, and the rest is sheer interest of the potential hire then.

To what extent do stakeholders pose threat to take away the control of your business?

Neelam:  Nobody will take control of your business as your investors have already many other businesses to take care of. Moreover, people who’re interested in stewarding an organization are already running their venture somewhere and not merely investing. An entrepreneur needs to have this minimum faith in himself to let others believe in him.

Given a chance to go back in the past, what are some mistakes you would not want to commit?

Neelam: I would have crashed the learning curve and catalyzed the growth of the company. I would have approached the investors in year 2002 itself rather than waiting till 2008.

Ashwin: I would have had a much stronger team. Other than that, I believe I have made all mistakes in the right order.

The discussion concluded with sharing of opinions on the fundamental differences between a ‘for-profit’ social enterprise & ‘not-for-profit’ organization. Sanjay mentioned, “For profit refers to the self sustainability. If you want to multiply the impact of your work, there’s no shying away from scaling up. You might take time to deliver, but one has to deliver and hit the bottom line.”We wish the misconceptions about social entrepreneurship are busted in people’s minds and the society starts embracing social ventures full heartedly.

Disclaimer: YourStory is the Outreach Partner for Ennovent Thought Leader Session.


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