With Father’s Day around the corner, a look at what startup founders learnt from their dads
For most of us, our dad was our first teacher. Whether it is to ride the cycle down the road or hold the cricket bat correctly at the society’s Sunday games, they have taught us many lessons when we were children. They have also held us gently through our heartbreaks and failures, and heartily patted us on our back when we achieved something.
Some fathers, through their lives, have shown their kids what is important, how hard work and perseverance pay off, and why we should always look at the larger picture and never sweat the small stuff. These are important lessons, especially if you are an entrepreneur who is trying to create something that can make a difference and change lives.
With Father’s Day around the corner, YourStory spoke to a few startup founders and found out what invaluable lessons their old man taught them.
Coworking player Smartworks' Founder Neetish Sarda understood the importance of following one’s dreams from his dad.
"One of the greatest lessons I learnt from my father was to follow your dream, no matter what obstacles came in the way. He taught me not to be afraid of taking risks, staying relevant and current, and ensuring a healthy work-life balance, and today, as I lead Smartworks towards newer avenues, I understand the value of each one of those lessons,” he says.
ToneTag CEO Kumar Abhishek’s father taught him the importance of perseverance.
"Among the countless things that I have learnt from my father, the one teaching that I will forever remain indebted is that we should never stop chasing our dreams. As the most complicated problems have the simplest solutions, we should never stop looking for them."
According to Pravin Agarwala, Co-founder and CEO of Betterplace, a platform for blue-collar workers, the most important learning from his dad was that it was fine to fail.
“As a child, I always got et hurt while jumping from one place to another or doing some weird things. Every time he would ask me to be careful while doing it next time. I did learn that taking a run in unknown territory is okay, failing is also okay. The important thing, however, is that we keep learning,” he adds.
Vishal Gondal, CEO and Founder GOQii, a wearable healthtech startup, incorporates many of his father’s teachings in his daily work and personal life.
“My father has given me some of the most invaluable lessons in life, which I cherish deeply and implement in my personal and professional life. These lessons have played a pivotal role in shaping me into the entrepreneur I am today and the businesses I continue to build. These are -
- Never take action when you are angry
- Never pay for work before it's completed
- When facing a difficult task, act as though it is impossible to fail
- Don't waste your time learning the tricks of the trade. Instead, learn the trade itself
- Always live beneath your means
- Petrol is precious. Wherever possible, walk, run or use the scooter.”
Shilpa Bhatia, Founder of women’s clothing rental startup The Clothing Rental, learnt the power of humility, among other things, from her old man.
"I think education was always given high importance in my life as that was a way to uplift and empower my life. He always said that anything can go wrong in life, but if you're educated then you can stand up for yourself at any point in life. My father built his life on sincere hard work and staying humble. This, in itself, is a big lesson that there is no shortcut to success or getting rich. He always said that if one stays humble, the rest will be taken care of," she says.
Pankaj Vermani, Founder and CEO of lingerie brand Clovia follows his father’s lead at work.
"My father is a store owner in a Tier II town and has been running the same business for over 45 years now. One thing I've learnt from him is his relentless diligence. He taught me how tireless consistency is the key to excelling at whatever one does. Another thing he showed me by example was that for an entrepreneur, no work is big or small. Today, I'm okay to pick up the broom and sweep the floor if that's what the business needs. He led by example and he doesn't cease to inspire me with his energy even today."
Rahul Singh, CEO of Ithaka, which offers personalised travel planning, attributes his never-say-die attitude to his father.
"Of the traits that founders need to have to become successful, there are two that matter more than anything else: hunger for success and perseverance to keep at it till the success comes. Inspired by my father, I practise it every day in my startup journey.
Kanchan Vaidya, Founder of The Original Knit, a startup that sells handmade warm woolen wear for kids, understood the importance of holding determination from her dad.
”I think that I have learnt persistence and how to manage multiple things at once. He has also helped me focus on one thing rather than doing too many things at once,” she says.
According to Pulak Satish Kumar, Director and COO, Puresight Systems (official distributor of iRobot), a robot vacuum pioneer, his father taught him the irreplaceable importance of hard work and gumption.
“The greatest learning I got from my father is that you don’t get your life and success in patrimony. You need to work hard and build your success story on your own, and it all begins from the day you are born. Life will always be a challenge no matter where you stand. It gives you humongous opportunities to excel and get the best. I have learnt that discomfort, pain, and stress are natural components of hard work and progress. There is no shortcut in life and there is no universal formula for success; breakthroughs come from unexpected places. We should always see the opportunity that is hidden behind every challenge. And it’s very important to keep learning throughout your life as it’s something that doesn’t have an end. More knowledge makes you more noble and a good person.”
According to Roopali Pasricha, Founder of marketing agency SpotLYK Media, her father taught her to stay strong in every situation.
“My father taught me the biggest thing in life, which is to be strong. He is no more with me but his lessons have been with me till now. He has always guided me that I have to stick to my path, no matter the challenges I face. In the end, you will understand it is all worth it and everything teaches you some lesson,” she says.
Deep Bajaj, Founder of PeeBuddy, India’s first female urination device, understood there is no shortcut to success from his father.
"My father taught us the importance of hard work and integrity. According to him, life is all about taking decisions; outcomes one can’t always control but input we can. Hence it’s important that we focus on what we bring to the table instead of what others/circumstances have to offer. And while we do so, it’s important to never compromise on hard work and integrity - two life-altering virtues according to my father! Another thing he always says is - there are no shortcuts to success."
Anurag Mehrotra, Co-founder and CEO of QSR chain Charcoal Eats, credits his dad for his level-heading thinking.
"My father has been a huge advocate of assessing every situation with patience and calmness, which means weighing the pros and cons of the action before even jumping onto it. His philosophy was to know what you are getting into so that failures don't pull you down easily. Being an entrepreneur this has been my staple in making decisions either for business, people or self," he says.
For Arshan Vakil, Founder and CEO of Enguru, which aims at providing affordable English Language training, his father preached balance, a lesson that has held him in good stead every day.
“One thing that stands out from all the important things I've learnt from my father is, always find a balance. Be it at work, with friends, or even tiny things like indulging in chocolates. Never overdo anything, find the right balance and maintain it,” he says.
Kumar Srinivasan, CEO of fintech startup Matchmove India says his dad taught him the importance of valuing good ideas.
“To me, the biggest lesson that I learned from my father is, ‘let the best idea win, not the person’. It is often easy to create an environment where the oldest voice or person wins but it is hard to create an environment where the best idea wins. My father taught us that knowledge is power, and to create an environment to let the best ideas win.”
Dipti Motiani, Founder and Chief Product Officer of Second Nature, a range of cold extracted juices, says her dad taught her the importance of persistence.
“Building a business takes time and patience, and inspite of your best efforts, there will be times when things will be stacked up against you. Many will tell you it’s time to quit. Even you will have doubts about your own ability to turn things around. But it is at this time that you must get cautious and keep going – it is this persistence that later can translate into a successful enterprise.”
For, Harshil Mathur, CEO and Co-founder, payments solution startup Razorpay, his father taught him the value of discipline and perseverance which continues to be a big part of his life.
“My personality is influenced by my father's to a great extent. And every trait boils down to one thing that he continues to make sure I do not let go of - discipline. Apart from making sure discipline becomes a part of me, he also enrolled me for yoga and karate from a young age, which eventually became a part of my lifestyle. We sometimes performed these arts as a father-son duo. Karate and yoga have always inspired me, and today, they've helped me remain calm and not lose my cool in any situation.”
For Krishna Kumar, Founder and CEO of Simplilearn, his father brought to him the importance of overall growth.
“I remember being a very studious kid. When I was going to engineering college, my father advised me that, focusing on overall personality is more important than just academic excellence. Whether you get 70 percent or 90 percent, you will become an engineer from that college. I really took that lesson very seriously and transformed myself. And my advice to my son is consistent with my belief that one needs to have an all-around balanced personality to lead a holistic meaningful life. So focusing on academic, sports and music are equally important.”
While for Sampad Swain, co-founder and CEO of Instamojo, his father’s advice on staying afloat and not accepting defeat has continued to help him march forward. He adds,
“My dad once said, 'The problem starts when a magician starts believing in his own trick'. I've stuck by this life mantra ever since. Whenever I've faced tough times, I can hear his words ringing in my head, and that always pushed me to get back on my feet. The same advice that my father gave me. Every individual will face ups and downs in life, and my boys will too. Just like how my father's words guided me, I believe my boys would benefit from the same.”
(With Inputs from Tarush Bhalla)