Guest TNT Why Are Start-ups Struggling With The Sustainability Factor? November 17, 2015

“The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing.”Walt Disney, Founder, Disney.
“Ideas are the commodity. Execution of them is not.”Michael Dell, Chairman, Dell.
“Chase the vision, not the money; the money will end up following you.”Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos.

“I’m an entrepreneur!” A swag that every guy loves to decorate himself with, as it seems to be the easiest way to become the next Hugh Hefner of their generation.

Although how bedazzled your peers might be left after they get acquainted with the fact that you’re an entrepreneur, the journey of being an entrepreneur is not as opulent as it might seem. The alluring factor for everyone to be an entrepreneur is easy fame and the mere illusion of even easier access to money.

Let’s start with the reasons why one wants to be an entrepreneur in today’s era:

  • Be your own boss, seems to be easier than being an employee at a reputed organisation.
  • Generating 7-digit turnover is showcased to be easier than grabbing a 7-digit salary package.
  • Hard work seems to have gone for a toss in the process of proving that you believe in smart work.
  • Freelancing has been modulated as entrepreneurship.
  • Easy fame, and recognition that comes along with being an entrepreneur.

One thing that every entrepreneur who has undergone ineffable euphoria of success, will vouch for is if any of the above reasons are why you want to be an entrepreneur, then you need to revisit the self-introspection for your career.

The message that entrepreneurs from stone-age of this industry have been delinquent at delivering is that entrepreneurship is just about the first two quotes mentioned at the beginning of this article. They all forgot to signify how crucial is the third quote is, in the success of a venture.

Above all, we all forgot the important role sustainability has to play in any business; not only the first generation entrepreneurs ignored this fact, even the investors who boast about many years of experience really ignored this fact. Vision and mission are important but adjectives like perseverance, conviction, commitment, and vanity aren’t amongst the one forming the foundation of your venture’s initiation, then the former two might go for a toss.

Let’s look at the current scenario of the entrepreneurial industry:

  • Start-ups like Flipkart have gone for even series H round of funding.
  • Due to globalisation, start-ups are getting much more market access, and exposure.
  • A notion that has been wandering like a vagabond amongst investors is that brand name matters. For e.g. if one is from IIT, then he is more likely to get investment than a guy who might be more promising but is from a tier 2 college, for the same idea.
  • I guess the era is not far, where number of entrepreneurs will be more than number of engineers.
  • Freelancing, or doing away with need of brick and mortar for opening a store is promoting one-man companies.
  • Starting with a notion to get acquired for large sum of dollars.
  • The success rate of start-ups even after an invigorating ecosystem is 4%-5%.

The current scenario has again embarked upon the normal tendency of the human race, over-exploitation of available resources.

The sudden shift towards entrepreneurship has not only brought a notion of decay in the invigorating ecosystem that was created for supporting aspiring entrepreneurs but has also started forcing the vivifying elements in this ecosystem to retract.

Nothing could have been worse for this industry where the founder was taken hostage by employees, or where the CEO was asked to leave his own company after being overpowered by the investors; although might be similar to the story of Steve Jobs, both are very different.

Today, the major focus is about reaching the break-even point or fame-even point for a venture, but nobody thinks about how to sustain it after that point onward. Easily available funding based on the prejudice of brand, or glossy picture alluring more and more first generation entrepreneurs is doing nothing, but acting as a decaying agent for such an exhilarating ecosystem.

The track, this industry is walking on is somewhat similar to what Earth moved on as deforestation widened its spread. Because of all the recent instances, including major start-ups laying off employees due to lack of resources, which was born as a result of the improper expenditure of easily acquired resources, or start-ups fighting to be prioritized over age-old organisations, is doing nothing but giving birth to a breeze of negativity.

Exaggerating things way beyond they exist is just promoting show business, like the concept of feminism has given rise to numerous feminazis, but the objective of feminism has gone on a never ending sabbatical.

In order to make sure that the start-up ecosystem doesn’t lose its vivifying essence, and the deserving one’s don’t fade away in the storm of brand and tags:

  • Investors need to realise that even a chaiwala can become the prime minister of the world’s largest democracy.
  • Successful entrepreneurs should realize their responsibility, and should share the real picture not just what gets them fame.
  • Sustainability should be given importance over alluring customers just to show off traction.
  • The whole industry should start working under the umbrella of altruism.
  • 4%-5% should be a number that signifies the failure rate, not the success.

It’s the time, we all start pulling hands, not legs, and shift our focus towards having a stable and sustainable venture than just creating products to sell them off at higher rates.

What we need to realize is not everyone is Mark Zuckerberg or as lucky as WhatsApp. If BlackBerry would have let their floodgates open before WhatsApp was launched, nobody would have ever been able to even give them a tough competition in the business mobile market.

Not to demotivate, but to acquaint you with reality, we need to make sure that we have a viable business model in hand, instead of an impractical model, which requires huge funding to sustain. And then also, you are not sure about it!


(This article has been written by Pulkit Garg).


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