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What a Start-up can learn from the movie Dangal?


Like any other movie of Amir Khan, Dangal has been made with dedication and perfection. The true and inspiring story of Mahavir Singh Phogat coaching his daughters to win gold medal for India is the soul of the movie and it has been written, directed and act fantastically. As a result, the movie is getting rave reviews from critics and audience alike. In-spite of the cash crunch due to demonetization, this movie is going to be a blockbuster.

The movie and its story have something for everyone. There are many inspiring sequences for girls, fathers, daughters, aspiring sports people and patriots. Running a successful start-up is also as tough as winning in a sports game.

There are a few very good lessons for start ups in the movie


In the move, Mahavir Singh Phogat (The character played by Amir Khan), has a dream of winning gold medal for India in the sports of wrestling. He himself could not go beyond Nationals as his father did not allow him. He has a dream of making his son achieve what he could not. But destiny had some other plans. His wife delivers three daughters. Mahavir is not against daughters but he had a perception that wresting is meant for males only and hence his dream of winning gold for India is not going to be true now. But one fine day, when his two daughters beat boys of their age, he realizes their potential. He also realizes that his main aim is to win gold for India and gold medal does not differentiate between a male and female.

Similarly start ups may not have access to the best people. It may not be able hire the best from IIMs, IITs or industry experts but that should not stop them from providing best products or services to their customers. A delighted customer is like a gold medal for a start up. Even if they cannot hire the best they should make people that work for them the best. Just like Mahavir made his daughter the best even when compared to males of the state.


In one sequence, Mahavir realizes that to make his daughters stronger he would need to feed them properly. In-spite of him being a vegetarian he feels the need of feeding chicken to his daughters. Chicken was beyond his reach not only from moral point of view but economically as well. But he is a very stubborn person and sees nothing beyond his goal. In order to provide chicken to his daughters within his budget he goes to a chicken seller and asks to provide chicken at a very nominal rate. He shows the bright future to the supplier. He convinces the supplier that his daughters are surely going to be great and popular wrestlers in the state and when people will know that these girls used to have chicken from his shop, it will be a great business for him.

Likewise start ups also need many suppliers to carry out their business operations. Few of these suppliers are best in the industry but are too expensive. Start-ups can devise a strategy of how, if they grow these suppliers will have great business in the future. They need to think from the suppliers’ point of view on how they would be benefited in future if associated with this start-up.


In order to take his daughter to the next level, Mahavir takes them for Dangal. Dangal is a very popular wrestling format which is played in the soil. Dangal is played by males only and Mahavir wants to register his daughter for it. The organizers straight away decline it on grounds of morality and society. But soon one of the organizers who has good business acumen raises a point. He says if a female is fighting with males, it would be a unique point that our audience has never seen. This might increase the popularity of our fights and we would earn a lot. Bingo! His idea works and the popularity of these fights increases. A huge crowd come to see a female taking on males in Dangal.

Similarly start-ups should always try to come up with some differentiation at each stage. The difference point may not be the bigger one always. Even small differentiation can do wonders. A small change in targeting audience or a small change in the product or service mix can do wonders.


Once Geeta (elder daughter of Mahavir) wins the national championship she moves to the better platform for International wrestling. In the better platform she gets a new set up and a new coach. So far she has been coached by her father Mahavir. The new coach has different techniques than her father. Geeta comes under awe of the new place and new coach. She gradually starts believing that whatever she has learnt from her father was meant for smaller scale and for bigger scale she should follow her new coach.

This proves to be a disaster and she could not win a single international match. This makes her realize that she should not have let go the strategy that made her a winner so far. She goes back to her father and goes back to the strategy that made her winner. This helps her a lot and she wins a gold medal for India in Common Wealth Games 2010.

Many Start ups fall under this trap. Initially they get fast and good success for their unique strategy. But once they grow bigger they start to emulate the leaders in the industry. And that makes them suffer as now they lose their uniqueness. They let go the strategy that made them winner so far. Start ups should never let go the strategy that made them winner and unique.


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