Today there is no dearth of meetups and networking events in the thriving startup ecosystem in India. Young entrepreneurs with multi-billion dollar dreams in their eager eyes throng these events in the hope of catching the attention of investors and senior entrepreneurs to pocket deals and funding.
They pull out all stops to get noticed. Some manage to strike deals while others go back with the ‘gyan’ from speakers on the stage to apply it in their startup’s problem areas.
At the fourth edition of the ongoing YourStory’s Mobile Sparks in Bengaluru, the audience will return with one other important takeaway – the true metrics of multi-billion dollar success is how well you have integrated the basics and exhibited spark.
On the second and concluding day of Mobile Sparks, YourStory Founder Shradha Sharma took the audience back to the basics. She said,
In the last six month, $1.3 billion have been invested in app and mobile-based startups in India. That is the spark in the ecosystem. At our Mobile Sparks event, a lot of entrepreneurs have talked and will talk to you about growth, passion, and numbers. I will talk to you about the spark.
So what is this spark? How can one ignite it?
‘Aekla chalo re’
Defining ‘spark’ in the context of the number of stories that YourStory has written till date (20,000), Shradha said, “For the last seven years we have been telling stories of entrepreneurs – big and small. Many of them have gone on to become unicorns and top-rated startups today. But what has stayed with us after all the stories have been told is the spark in these entrepreneurs.”
The spark that says that they are not afraid to swim against the tide; spark that says even if no one stands with them, they will be persistent and not give up – truly imbibing Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Aekla chalo re…’
“It is easy to sit in a room with everyone and talk the same language and be a part of the crowd. What is difficult is to stand alone,” said Shradha. The ‘S’ of spark shines through when the entrepreneur is not afraid to stand alone and have faith in her idea and ability.
Slow and steady
“You know, every day we get requests from entrepreneurs, who give us million dollar figures of their valuation. Some of these are not even six months old.” said Shradha, adding, “They are in such a hurry. We know that overnight success can take as long as 10 years.” Patience is definitely a virtue. And that’s our second ingredient that adds flavour to the spark. She added,
Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves.
Pay attention, appreciate
All of us believe, and perhaps rightly so, that we are heroes. But how many times do we actually complement another or show appreciation?
“We always keep the dearest things to ourselves,” wrote an 18-year-old James Joyce, after the great playwright Henrik Ibsen wrote a letter of appreciation to the author. Joyce was ecstatic that his literary idol had not only paid attention to his work but had also appreciated it.
“Whether it is our competitor, rival or friend, genuinely appreciating someone else makes both of us happy. We are all looking to be appreciated,” she said. Appreciation is the ‘A’ in the spark that can hold a young entrepreneur together and brighten the lives of everyone around, including her own. According to Shradha,
What will help you succeed will be to recognize and validate others. As the startup ecosystem gets more and more competitive, it becomes imperative to hold on to this basic value all the more.
Rigour did not kill anybody
In football (as in entrepreneurship) talent and elegance mean nothing without rigour (with apologies to football star Lionel Messi). Recalling the early years of YourStory, Shradha said it was the rigour and determination of the team that has helped grow the organization. Addressing the audience, she said, “When you go to events like these, perhaps you do not have money to be a sponsor or be a speaker. But why should you let that stop you,” she said, challenging the young entrepreneurs and hopefuls to go out and meet as many people as they can and talk about themselves. “What set Bill Clinton apart from the other presidential candidates was that before being elected to the highest office in the US, he went around meeting as many people as he could and get people to know him,” she added.
The milk of human kindness
“Three things in life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind, and the third is to be kind,” Henry James.
You can truly light your spark with what Shakespeare called the ‘milk of human kindness’. Shradha said, “Today, the negative bias syndrome is all pervasive. We like to be critics. We like to critique. That makes us sound and look intelligent.” According to her, what she has noticed is that people do not truly appreciate when you give a positive feedback. “People sit up and take notice when you critique them. That, in their eyes, is being intelligent.”
But when the day is done, a single act of kindness can bring one back from the edge.
Before beginning her talk, Shradha took the audience to the era of long distance 'trunk calls', playing a short clip of Shamshad Begum's popular number from Hindi movie of yesteryears, 'Patanga', "Mere piya gaye Rangoon, kiya hai waha se telephone..." and juxtaposed it with the instant gratification of mobile apps of today.
We may have come a long way from the telephone ‘trunk call’ made by a lover from Rangoon to swiping on dating apps on our smartphones today, but what perhaps has endured through the ages is the sentiment called love.
After all, if our basics are strong it can take us a long way ahead. Shradha concluded,
People who stay forever and stand tall are people who have the spark.