From pre-setup courtship to exit processes, GenePath Diagnostics’ Nickhil Jakatdar shares interesting insights for young entrepreneurs
Serial entrepreneur Nickhil Jakatdar, Co-founder and CEO of GenePath Diagnostics, realised his entrepreneurial calling while working on his PhD at the University of California, Berkeley.
Along with his research colleague, he started his first venture in the semiconductor space. He later moved on to other undertakings such as Vuclip, Praesagus, and Timbre Technologies, which he successfully exited.
Nickhil Jakatdar, Co-founder and CEO of GenePath Diagnostics [Image Credit: Prime Venture Partners]
Explaining his choice of such varied endeavours, he tells Amit Somani, Managing Partner, Prime Venture Partners, "I moved into those spaces because I just enjoyed the people I met at those companies. I felt they were passionate, and they believed in the mission. Money-making ideas did not drive them, but the possibility of changing the world did."
In this episode of the Prime Ventures Partners podcast, Nickhil shares his insights into a wide range of topics and the lessons learned.
‘Starting up is like dating’
For Nickhil, winding up with random topics is not so random after all. He spends a good deal of time understanding the group of people he is enthusiastic about, and their mission. He says that the crux is knowing what others are bringing to the table and how he can add value.
He further explains that the initial stages of any startup are like dating and the period before it is like the lost art of 'courtship'. It’s crucial to engage in good, honest conversations over a significant period of time before starting together. He says that one's passion and value one can add gets tested by asking tough and constructive questions.
The 'dating' stage can be challenging for first-time entrepreneurs and them, he shares the two most important lessons he has learnt from his journey.
The first one is choosing the right set of initial employees for your startup. He emphasises finding the right people who are in tune with your frequency and match for your value system and knowing how you all view and act in similar situations.
He says that if the values don't match, no matter how efficient and smart one works, the difference in the value system shows up in ugly ways later on.
Talking about the second lesson, Nickhil says, "Each person involved in early days has to be clear about what they bring to the table as well as what they are willing to trust the other person with."
He explains that asking questions is okay but in a way to gain more understanding of others' work or ideas and not to show distrust.
Exit Process: When is the right time to move on?
Drawing from his own experience, Nickhil shares one of the crucial lessons he learned: the process of moving on starts way before the exit.
While talking about letting go of control in the initial stages of the startup, he says, "When you are two founders, a dog and a dream, you have a certain view of the world, and you want to do everything by yourself. Then, when you hire your first five employees, they have to be given certain freedoms. Here, you have to move on from ‘I am everything’ to ‘I am this,’ and ‘I need to let go and have these people do this.’"
Eventually, as the company grows, your role modifies, and you let go of control. This is the first step of moving on into different roles.
Coming to the final exit from a company, he believes that deep down, we get to know when it is time to move on. He personally works with a simple rule of thumb where if he wakes up for a whole month and the first thought in the morning is "I have to go to work" and lacks the enthusiasm to create things, he knows that it is time.
To know more, listen to the podcast here
00:46 - How Nickhil started his entrepreneurial journey as a student
08:13 - Dating founding team: finding interesting, smart, motivated people.
13:10 - When and how should a founder “let go”
17:47 - An overview of what molecular diagnostics are and what does Genepath does?
29:30 - Is there an ideal diet? Data-driven Personalised Preventive Health.
34:05 - How entrepreneurs should take care of their health while trying to reach the ‘promised land.’
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