“I think our country needs believers who will irrationally believe in irrational people,” Kunal Bahl, Co-Founder, AceVector Group (Snapdeal, Unicommerce and Stellaro) said remembering his initial struggle to gain investors’ confidence.
Speaking on the second day of the 11th edition of Isha Leadership Academy’s flagship program – “Isha Insight: The DNA of Success” at Isha Yoga Center in Coimbatore, Kunal Bahl endorsed the start-up culture in the country. He cautioned about being overly critical of start-ups often being castigated for “burning cash”, pointing to the way Indian start-ups are contributing towards creating employment and touching millions of lives.
“In the next 20 years, most of the software products being bought around the world will be #MadeInIndia. And that will be a moment of great pride for all of us,” added Kunal reposing his confidence in the burgeoning start-up ecosystem.
A personal experience of horrid healthcare infrastructure in arguably the best hospital in New Delhi is inspiring Kunal to currently back more healthcare start-ups. “What will we do with money, UPI, ONDC, startups, and VC funding if we don’t have good health as a nation?” Kunal asserted.
Gautam Saraogi, Founder and CEO, Go Colors, then took the center-stage detailing his foray into branded bottom wear for women. Explaining the ‘Blue Ocean’ strategy of Go Colors, Gautam Sarogi said that being an everyday-wear, the category did not have any competition, posed no fashion or inventory risk as they can be sold at the cost of the goods.
The journey of Go Colors started with the opening of the first kiosk in Chennai in 2011 and today, the company stands at 569 stores across 133 cities. An IPO during Covid would have appeared counter-intuitive, but Gautam exuded confidence as he felt, “people would appreciate and acknowledge the bigger business as is – whether it is COVID or no COVID.” Go Colors envisaged to become a 3,000-4,000 crore business and since going public brings a lot of credibility, Gautam noted it as one of the important reasons for IPO. “The other reason was, of course, also acknowledging the exits of the existing investors.” Currently, Go Colors is going strong and has already scaled up to Rs 6,000 crore, making it one of the home-grown success stories to look up to.
Joining the list of illustrious speakers of the day, Chandra Shekhar Ghosh, MD, and CEO, Bandhan Bank drew out the story of transformation of Bandhan from an NGO into a micro-finance company, and then, to a bank. Speaking about his initial days, Mr Ghosh recalled, “I’ve taken the money from moneylenders at 7.5% interest per month, simply to prove to the banks that this model is perfect, and these people will return the money”.
The bank addresses the financial needs of the most unbanked and underbanked section of the country and relies on scale to create an impact on the country. “Because India is a big country, if you do not play to scale, there is no impact on the country.”
Sonam Wangchuk, Director, Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, Ladakh (HIAL), who flew straight away back from freezing Afghanistan- where he was there to help them build solar-heated mud houses – joined as the final speaker of the day. “Entrepreneurs to me are not those who just make money and more money. Entrepreneurs are problem solvers. If you are not problem solvers, you are not entrepreneurs. Secondly, if you’re making money, and even problem-solving, you’re not a good entrepreneur. You have to be helping others come up with you. Then you are true entrepreneurs,” said the renowned Innovator.
Day 3 of Isha Insight 2022 will be graced by Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Union Cabinet Minister for Jal Shakti, and Aravind Melligeri, Chairman & CEO at Aequs who will share their learnings and journeys with the participants. Earlier, Day 1 of Isha Insight 2022, Sadhguru, Founder, Isha Foundation, and Thampy Koshy, CEO, Open Network For Digital Commerce (ONDC) shared their deep insights with close to 200 business leaders from across India who are participating in this year’s Isha Insight.
The vision behind Isha Insight comes from Sadhguru – “Asking businesses to move on to the next step without the necessary tools and know-how is not fair. As a part of providing them with these tools, we thought we would bring the best minds in the field to offer hands-on knowledge on scaling up. The Isha Insight program is essentially about helping these businesses scale up.”
Over the past decade, Isha Insight: The DNA of Success has become one of the most sought-after business leadership programs in the world. Previously, program participants have been mentored by veterans like Ratan Tata, NR Narayana Murthy, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, GM Rao, KV Kamath, Ajay Piramal, Harsh Mariwala, Arundhati Bhattacharya, Bhavish Aggarwal, Pawan Goenka among several others.