I have been a part of the startup ecosystem in India for the last 6 years now. I have had the privilege of working with 3 set of founders, all of whom were successful in their own right, special in their own way, different in almost every aspect. If there is one thing that all three had in common, it was passion. Passion towards what they were building and an insurmountable & relentless belief in the cause!
Recently, I read a linkedin post which asked a question — “Is passion overrated in the Indian startup ecosystem?” I was perplexed, to say the least. How can it ever be, was my immediate reaction.
People often talk about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. or even a successful employee. I don’t have the answer to that, atleast not yet. But I know what will ensure lack of success — Doing something you don’t love. Imagine Steve Jobs hating technology? Sachin Tendulkar not being a fan of cricket? Picasso not being into colours?
Life is too short to be doing something you don’t enjoy. Nothing you ever do in life can ensure every day being a good day. And good days are easy, bad days are the ones that are suckers. And that’s where passion sails you through. My father is a chemical engineer who has spent the last 36 years running factories, of different kinds. Even now when he is touching 60, his every day consists of a 10 km walk around his “site” trying to figure out ways to save energy or find an innovative way to increase his production throughput. He doesn’t have a facebook account, He hates whatsapp because of the forwards that distract him from his work. And the only thing he ever taught me was, “Do what you love. Give your life to something that brings a smile to your face every day you are off to work.” And I now run a startup, which can be broadly be classified as a social network. Ironic, isn’t it!
People often make the mistake of trying to be a part of a “wave”. In 2015, when 100s of startups across India were trying to be a part of the food-tech bandwagon, how many founders were ready to slog 10 hours a day in the kitchen? When car-servicing startups were the in-thing, how many founders had the passion to spend every day at a service station, scorching in the heat & learning each and every step of the process? For anyone whose answer to the respective questions is NO, you can’t succeed in the business no matter what. I have seen people make the mistake of jumping into something sensing a big market opportunity & hiring their way out of the grind. Never works that way!
Yes, Passion is not the only thing you need. Even with the best of intentions, the most passionate founders may not taste success. So what! From an investor’s perspective — passionate founders’ success ratio would always be higher than that of non-passionate founders’. From an entrepreneur’s angle - They will still be happy, having lived a dream.