To sir, with love: On Teacher's Day, millennial entrepreneurs talk about their mentors

Find out who these millennial startup founders consider as their mentors and how these educators influenced their lives….
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A good teacher or mentor can be an invaluable guide, well-wisher and friend in the journey of your life.

Even in these times of tech-enabled teaching and tech-driven lifestyles, the advice given by a fine teacher or a wise mentor can pave the path to great success.

As Teacher’s Day is just around the corner, YS Weekender spoke to prominent millennial entrepreneurs to find out how their educators and mentors helped them shape their entrepreneurial journey over the years. Here’s what they had to say…

Ramakant Sharma, Co- founder and COO of Livspace

Ramakant Sharma

Ramakant Sharma has great respect for all the people who made a positive contribution to his life, especially his teachers. 

He says, “I was taught by my teacher that teamwork brings great rewards. I learnt through my days at college, and later at work that while what you do is important, who you do it with matters more.”

He lives by these wise words of advice, even today, at Livspace. Decision making is a key part of his daily activity - starting from strategy to budgets to investment decisions and conducting meetings.

Ramakant says, “During my entrepreneurial journey, I have worked with wonderful individuals who have contributed to my personal growth and have enmeshed their vision with mine to create something that we are all proud of. Collaborating with a passionate and driven team has inspired me to perform my best.”

Akshay Mehrotra, Co-Founder and CEO of EarlySalary

Akshay Mehrotra

The most important lesson that Akshay Mehrotra learnt from his educators was to learn from other people’s mistakes, rather than learning from one’s own. Secondly, he was taught to believe in himself and work towards a plan, instead of gathering random ideas. He was also taught that one is as good as his or her team.

Akshay says, “I have been fortunate enough to have been taught by many people, including my teachers and mentors. Hemant Kaul has been guiding me throughout my entrepreneurial journey while Hemant Jalan and Ravi Nigam, my mentors from TiE, have helped me sharpen my entrepreneurial skills. I also looked up to Kishore Biyani who has been a source of knowledge and an inspiration for me. I have learnt a lot from him.”

He believes that all the good advice given to him early in his life have held him in good stead as an entrepreneur.  “Today, we have built a rock-solid team of 225 people. We work towards a precise business plan and avoid being distracted by doing too many things. We stay extremely focused.”

Krishna Kumar, CEO, Simplilearn

Krishna Kumar

Krishna Kumar of Simplilearn says that his mentors have been his board members Ashish Gupta and Ram Gupta.

“I seek their advice from time to time on various aspects of running a business, from product to marketing to sales to organisation structure to hiring key talent.”

 

He says that the biggest lesson he has learnt in entrepreneurship is that whenever he encounters new challenges, he gets the other’s perspective, before going ahead and taking his own decisions.

“While scaling your business, you may encounter new problems at every stage of your journey, and those who have gone through the same journey will always have valuable experiences for you that you can learn from.”


Ankit Mehrotra, CEO & Co-founder, Dineout

Ankit Mehrotra

Ankit Mehrotra takes believes that every individual he has met in his life has influenced him in one way or the other.

“My folks have been my biggest mentors and educators. The three Ds- Dedication, Devotion and Determination to success is the most valuable lesson I have received from my father."

He applies the three ‘Ds’ in his entrepreneurial journey as well. “My journey from being an investment banker to an entrepreneur has been full of ups and downs. The first few months when we started Dineout were challenging, to the extent of being a little disheartening at times. Whenever I felt demotivated, my father reminded me of the three D's.  This is something which kept me going,” he recalls.

According to Ankit, you cannot achieve anything in life without the support of your loved ones, your colleagues and your peers. “

We have always measured the success of Dineout on the basis of how we make our customers and restaurant partners happy, and this is why it is a successful platform today. Dineout works together as a family and this family has only grown with time,” he explains.

Sampad Swain, Co-Founder & CEO, Instamojo

Sampad Swain

For Sampad, his father has always been his mentor.

“I have always been fascinated that there’s something new to learn from him each time I have a conversation with him. One major learning that lives with me to date is to stay afloat no matter how rough the tide may be, and to never accept defeat. These words have been ringing in my ears ever since, and have helped survive some really rough periods of life.”

Sampad has some advice for his fellow entrepreneurs too. “There is no journey without ups and downs, and if there are no rough patches, you may not be on the right path. Remember to never give up. There is always light at the end of the tunnel and you will definitely find yours when the right time comes,” he says.