Top expert voices on YourStory in 2016 and why we loved them


It’s that time of the year again where celebrations are in order. As we wind up an overwhelming year, it’s time we pause to appreciate the great insights and learnings shared by a few celebrated individuals. YourStory's guest column has witnessed powerhouses who have consistently expressed their expert views on startups, the economy, business, investments, brand management, and technology.

As we gear up for another exciting year, let’s revisit some of our favourite picks of 2016 from our expert guest authors. (This is the first installment. Watch this space for the second one tomorrow.)

TN Hari- Head of HR at BigBasket

What makes him special?

In the last 28 years of his journey, he has performed several roles in line management and HR. He has worked with multiple startups/scale-ups and has been through four successful exits in different industries. Hari’s passion is building organisations for scale through clear thinking and relentless execution. His writings reflect insights he has gained in this area.

Our favourite pick - Are you hiring right for your startup?

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The power of simplicity is never taught in any business school, and hence it is learnt the hard way

Vani Kola- Managing Director at Kalaari Capital

What makes her special?

With over 22 years of Silicon Valley experience as a founder of successful companies, Vani is Managing Director at Kalaari Capital. Her leadership at Kalaari centres around her commitment to the development of entrepreneurs and her conviction that Indian companies are poised to become global players.

Our favourite pick - Things I learnt from Ratan Tata

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Having a great work culture is not an option – it is a necessity

Brett Lee - Former Australian international cricketer

What makes him special?

Having started his career at the age of 16, Brett is a giant in Australian cricketing history. During his time with the Australian team, he played in over 76 Tests, 221 ODIs and 25 T20Is matches. He is also widely regarded as one of the best pace bowlers ever to have played the sport. Brett consistently succeeded in reaching a bowling speed of a hundred miles per hour throughout his career.

Our favourite pick - From the sound of silence to the sound of life

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A true champion is the one who triumphantly overcomes life’s obstacles

Bhavin Turakhia - Founder and CEO of Flock

 What makes him special?

Bringing with him 18 years of technology experience, Bhavin is a serial tech entrepreneur and the Founder and CEO of Flock Team Messenger. With a deep understanding of the industry and a strong technical background, he is a startup evangelist.

Our favourite pick - How to go beyond swanky offices and karaoke nights to build a startup culture that helps retain your best talent

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You might attract talent with perks, but you will definitely not retain the best talent with it

Ravi Venkatesan - Co-founder and Chairman of Social Venture Partners, India

What makes him special?

Co-founder and Chairman of Social Venture Partners, India, Ravi is the former Chairman of Microsoft India and Cummins India. Previously, he had donned the hat of author, writing the bestseller, Conquering the Chaos- Win in India, Win Everywhere, published in 2013 by Harvard Business Review.

Our favourite pick - India’s IT industry: are the skies really falling?

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Success requires the correct diagnosis

Dev Khare - Partner at Lightspeed India Partners Advisors

What makes him special?

An avid blogger, Dev is an investor at Lightspeed Venture Partners. His interest areas vary from the internet and mobile to enterprise software companies.

Our favourite pick - Dev Khare, MD at Lightspeed India, talks about their focus on being the first institutional investor in startups

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Though painful, downturns in growth financing are a normal part of the cyclicality of the financial environment

Bharati Jacob - Co-founder of Seedfund

What makes her special?

As the Co-founder of Seedfund, an early-stage venture fund, Bharati has led investments in iconic brands such as redBus, Chumbak, and Voonik, among others. She is long on Indian entrepreneurs solving uniquely Indian problems.

Our favourite pick - Founder vs Founder: Democracy isn’t the solution!

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The founder/team relationship is like a marriage – we all hope that it will last forever or till an exit happens, but like real marriages, there can be many surprises.

Sun Ung Lee - entrepreneur, strategic business management leader

What makes him special?

Founding of Cloudike, Sun has worked at LG for over eight years as a telecommunication and electronics industry veteran. A PhD in mechanical engineering, he aims to provide emerging markets across the world with a cloud solution that is both practical and efficient

Our favourite pick - Can Google kill WhatsApp?

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Entrepreneurs are seasoned veterans who are always ready for their next challenge

Pratik Seal - Group CMO at AGS Transact Technologies Ltd 

What makes him special?

At the helm of the marketing department at AGS Group, Pratik Seal lends his expertise in building brands and product from scratch, and transforming them into industry leaders. With a career spanning over 19 years in the field of brand management, product development and business leadership, he is a free-spirited and dynamic individual.

Our favourite pick - Resurrection of deadbeat brands

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Brands are stories that allure (attract consumer), engross (connect with the consumer), and capture (attain consumer loyalty), wrapped with a takeaway gift and the promise of continuance for long

Ravi Narayan - Global Director of Microsoft Accelerator in India

What makes him special?

Global Director of Microsoft Accelerator in India, Ravi has been a mentor, investor and a serial entrepreneur. Prior to Microsoft, he was Managing Director at Mentor Partners, a Bengaluru-based seed fund, which he established as a brand name in India and Southeast Asia. He has forayed into the world of entrepreneurship in 1992 and emerged as an inspiring force in the country's startup ecosystem.

Our favourite pick - A startup is just another story!

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Startup journey is an abbreviated version of a life journey – with a start, phase of growth, phase of maturity and an exit.

Robert Bu- General Manager, UCWeb India

What makes him special?

The General Manager at UCWeb India now, Robert has been in the ICT industry for over nine years, having worked for top telecom companies including Ericsson and Nortel. He oversees the overall growth and business development for the company in India and holds an international MBA and engineering Masters from Sun Yat-Sen University, China.

Our favourite pick - How the Internet is altering the news landscape

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Thankfully, the world has not come to a stage where every tweet or blog is taken at its face value. If that had been the case, gossip peddlers would have had a field day

Meeta Malhotra - Serial entrepreneur, brand and marketing practitioner, angel investor 

What makes her special?

An active angel investor as well as advisor to Kstart, Meeta focusses on the intersection of design, brand and technology. Having started her career with Infosys when they were just starting up, she was one of two partners at Ray+Keshavan.

Our favourite pick - Indian e-commerce’s best kept secret

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Raising money requires that you focus all your time and energy on investor interactions at a time when your business needs you most

Parag Dhol- Managing Director at Inventus Capital Partners

What makes him special?

As Managing Director at Inventus Capital Partners, a venture firm that invests in entrepreneurs building global tech-focussed companies in India and the US, Parag now resides in the startup capital. At Inventus, Parag has been on the board of redBus (now acquired), FundsIndia, Vizury, eTechies, Power2SME, PolicyBazaar, Avaz, Peel Works and Tricog.

Our favourite pick - That time of the year again – introspecting 2016 and crystal ball gazing 2017

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'India is the next China' started giving way to 'Wants vs. Needs', 'India 1 vs. India 2' and the like.

Ronnie Screwvala - Founder, UTV Group, Unilazer Ventures and Swades Foundation

What makes him special?

Founder of UTV, Ronnie is a first-generation entrepreneur with his second innings in sports (USports) and digital education (UpGrad). His foundation, Swades, works towards empowering rural India; lifting 10 lakh people out of poverty every five years.

Our favourite pick - Entrepreneurship can be learnt and should be taught

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A great idea is a wonderful thing, but without clarity of vision, it will remain just that: a great idea

Balachandar R - Founder & CEO, Wassup-On-Demand

Founder of India’s leading on-demand laundry and dry cleaning brand, Wassup, Bala is a Dun & Bradstreet Gold Medallist in his Masters in International Business (IIFT - PSG Tech Program). He has had a successful 15-year career in retail and is Hony President of Nextgen Retailers Association.

Our favourite pick - An open letter to laundry entrepreneurs and investors from a fellow founder

Mark these words - Entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a 100-metre sprint!

(This is the first installment. Watch this space for the second one tomorrow.)