What is Tech for a Billion? What are we doing to achieve it and how can we get there?
The crowd leaned in to understand more. Quiet whispers and parallel conversations were triggered.
“All around us, we see the aspirations and dreams in the eyes of those around us. Some dream of creating multi-billion-dollar companies, while some are simply hoping to catch the attention of an investor. But everyone aspires for success. Yet during this brutal push and pull, do we forget to applaud our efforts?” That’s the question that Shradha Sharma, Founder, YourStory.com, threw to the audience on the concluding day of TechSparks 2015.
"As an entrepreneur, there is one thing we believe we do, but in actuality, we don't. When you dig deeper, you realise that we really don't think of ourselves as superstars. It is easy to go and sit with other people, get through the tough times when you have someone with you. But it is very difficult to stand alone and in front of a large audience, when there is no one standing beside you," Shradha pointed out.
Her key takeaway was that only when we love ourselves and value ourselves will we value the people around us. And the YourStory team has done just that. "We loved ourselves, believed in ourselves, and that's how we built YourStory.com."
But then is that the only way you can be successful? It was a question that was in everyone’s mind – not just of entrepreneurs but senior investors’ too. For Shradha a large part of success was telling people how extraordinary they were, encouraging them. With a childlike naiveté, she spoke about how she did exactly that in building YourStory.
"I was late in joining Twitter. My big wish was that a big shot should retweet me. So I simply started tagging all of them, almost spamming them. And I simply couldn’t understand why people didn’t retweet that much, why people didn’t appreciate each other with a simple retweet.”
And it didn’t matter that they didn’t, she simply continued, and loved doing it. “For me it was like magic in the air, spreading the love,” she reminisced, adding, “The big shots weren’t helping me then, but I decided I would help others to build. Today, every relation we have built is because of the love we have given."
"People are good at passing judgement, but who are we to say whether a company will become a multi-billion dollar entity or not," she added. When you help others, spread a good word and do so selflessly, it brings you happiness, and makes those around you happy. As testimony to how spreading the love and encouragement helps give you positive energy, Shradha cheekily pointed to her face and said, “Look at me! My skin is glowing with happiness. I promise it’s not makeup!”
Exhorting the audience to do the same, she came up with a typically unconventional suggestion: “Kiss the person who tells you that you will not survive. It is a gift, I would say." The crowd was in splits – Munna Bhai’s ‘jadoo ki jhappi’ had been taken three steps forward!
The storyteller that she is, Shradha recounted how, at a gathering of bigwigs in Mumbai, she had told them that she was going to write stories of entrepreneurs. An industry expert responded: “Likho. Saat din bhi nahin chalega. (Write. It won’t last seven days!)”. She came home and cried and called up her father to tell him what had happened.
Madam Shradhaji! Ab baahar ho toh seena taan ke khade raho.(If you’ve decided to venture out, then go out there and brave what’s out there.)
YourStory didn’t shut down in seven days. It’s seven years old, telling stories of entrepreneurs in 10 languages. “And we’ll write for another seven years, and beyond!” she promised.
Tech for Billion
According to Shradha, it’s what we don’t have, what is denied to us, what we are told we lack, that will make us do better, build better and achieve something that is one in a billion: "Jo nahi mila, wahi hume daudaega. Hume billion pae le jaega!"
To the young entrepreneurs in the gathering, she promises:
Aapki success mein humari success hai! (Our success is aligned with your success!)
A big shoutout to TechSparks 2015 sponsors – Sequoia Capital, ICICI Bank, Money on Mobile, Microsoft, Signal Hill, IBM Bluemix, PwC, Atom Tech, Teamchat, Govt. of Karnataka, Intel, Rabbler, Dailyhunt, Reverie, Loginext and PayUBiz; Partners – Duff&Phelps, Taxmantra, Dineout, Exotel, 360ride, Yoga Bar, Chai Point, GWC; and our Media Partners – TV9, Fortune India, RedFM and Deccan Herald.
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