It was by chance that Mr and Mrs Jain came upon the idea of writing a book on startup companies. The concept for ‘The Start up Diaries’ came after Gagan wanted to start his own venture and pitched the idea to his brother who told him to stick to trading as he felt e-commerce companies were meant for visionaries and people from IIMs and Ivy league institutes. Gagan, who has been associated with various start-ups like Snapdeal, Cerebral Heights (an MBA institute and preparation centres) and his own venture along with wife Neeti, www.rangrage.in, a designer label for hand painted merchandise, found the reaction surprising.
“We wondered why a person, despite running his own business successfully, is not open to the idea of a startup. And it’s not the story of one person, most of us are not very comfortable with entrepreneurship as a career option and look towards entrepreneurs in awe, with a feeling that we can’t do it,” begins Gagan. Trying to break the aura of being an entrepreneur, the duo decided to pen down their own story. “We set out our journey with the premise that entrepreneurs do not have magical powers, intellect or vision and they are just like you and me, who face the same level of difficulties while building their businesses,” feels Gagan. According to the author, the book doesn’t seek to glorify entrepreneurs, but gives a very realistic picture of their challenges and struggles. “It is not a manual on startups but the real journey of entrepreneurs from varied backgrounds. What and how they have faced multiple issues at various stages of their startup,” he adds.
The book ‘The Start up Diaries’covers the creators of the companies like redBus.in, Yo! China, Eko Financial Services, The Loot Store, Colosceum Media and One97 Communications. In each story, the authors have captured the struggles, challenges, and accomplishments; funny and significant moment of the entrepreneur’s life
Once they decided upon writing the book, it was a long drawn out process of shortlisting companies from each field based on their criteria. “Our criteria was to cover companies that started post 2000, find entrepreneurs in different fields to capture the challenges in that particular domain and thirdly we wanted cover people with diverse backgrounds,” explains Gagan who hails from Indore.
Their criteria was based on the fact that the current generation had to relate to them. “We wanted to study companies that were young and in their growth phase, for whose founders the taste of success was new and memories of the struggle fresh.” The book covers a diverse range of fields from media, retail, hospitality, e-commerce and finance industry. The diversity is maintained even in the people covered. “Vijay of One97 is from a small village of Uttar Pradesh, while Ajit from Colosceum Media holds a MBA from Indian School of Business. Jay of The Loot is a college dropout and Redbus was started with bunch of engineers,” states Gagan. So once the shortlisting was completed, the duo went about collecting written material available on the companies. “We enquired about the companies from our own sources. Once the companies were finalised, we did exhaustive rounds of interviews multiple times with each entrepreneur which was later followed by telephone and e-mail communication.”
With no strong academic backing, the first roadblock the husband and wife met was overcoming their own mindset. “Thinking of writing a book was too ambitious for us and people around us were quite skeptical of our capabilities. So even before venturing into it, we had to deal with our share of critics and feedback,” explains Gagan. However, the trick to their success was in making their effort an example of their study. Thus, instead of starting small with articles and blogs, they treated the book as an entrepreneurial venture itself. “The other problem was in convincing big entrepreneurs to give us their time. Some of them were generous enough. More importantly, they were courageous enough to share their mistakes, blunders and other small details to make the book relevant,” says Gagan.
At the end of it, who do Gagan and Neeti think they’re target readers would be? “It is for people who dream to create something of their own and who wish to go on the road less travelled but do not have realistic ideas of support or problems they may face in their journey. Our reader must be sitting somewhere in an engineering or a business management institute, or a young executive in a company preparing to take his first step in the world of entrepreneurship.”
The Start up Diaries is priced at ` 249.