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Dare to win

The founder of interior design and furniture company Wakefit, Chaitanya Ramalingegowda, started taking English lessons at the age of 16 in his aunt’s garage in Mysore. Even though the company had students, he decided to merge it and focus on college. After engineering, he worked for two IT companies and then studied MBA at ISB Hyderabad. He worked for a short time at Deloitte in the USA and that’s when the entrepreneurial bug caught him again. “I was paid to advise a global CEO listening to a 29-year-old because I had something to say based on logic, data and analysis. I started to wonder why I couldn’t use all this logic, data and analysis to start my own consumer-centric business,” explains Ramalingegowda.

In 2011, at the age of 30, he gave entrepreneurship a second chance. In the following years he founded two start-ups, both of which failed. After his second business closed, he was left with just £800 in his bank account and had no choice but to return to a full-time job. It was then that he met Ankit Garg, the co-founder of Wakefit. “When the idea of ​​Wakefit came up, we decided to give it another try. There was a stubborn streak in me to try again.” Since then, there has been no turning back. Wakefit is currently a profitable £4.16 billion company.

As Karna of IIM-A points out, the best point for most B-School graduates is to embrace entrepreneurship after gaining at least 3-7 years of work experience. At this point, they are mostly in the 27-30 age group, have completed their college credits, and are all ready to jump on the entrepreneurship bandwagon.

Manish Taneja, Rahul Dash and Suyash Katyayani, co-founders of online beauty and personal care marketplace, were 27 and 26 years old when they started their business. Until then, Taneja had worked with Avendus and Fidelity and Dash with Tata Administrative Services. “I had the opportunity to build Tata Sampann’s supply chain in Pondicherry and also had the opportunity to be involved with many other 0-1 year companies. In fact, the TAS experience drove me to entrepreneurship,” says Dash.

However, Katyayani is the classic engineer-turned-entrepreneur who entered the world of entrepreneurship within months of his professional role at telecom company OnMobile. “The year I joined was their IPO year. It was a company incubated out of Infosys, and within eight years the founders had taken it from start-up to IPO. I got to see young people getting rich, which was inspiring. Also, I was in Bengaluru and in every coffee shop you went there was a talk about venture capitalists.” When Katyayani joined Purplle as CTO and co-founder, he was a serial entrepreneur who had founded and closed three startups.

Once you are an entrepreneur, the mindset shifts from risk aversion to an insatiable risk appetite. “Today it’s socially acceptable to fail, and that makes all the difference,” said Rohit Bhayana, Founder of Lumis Partners. “If they fail, they can work in a company or join another start-up. An ecosystem of entrepreneurship is emerging, and this is being accelerated,” he adds.

retention tool

Even established companies like Unilever, ITC, L’Oréal and Marico create entrepreneurial opportunities for employees as a retention tool. Hindustan Unilever has a concept of CCBTs (Country Category Business Teams) spanning home care, laundry, hair care, skin care, natural products and groceries and how mini boards work within the company. Each CCBT is led by a General Manager (the average age of a GM is 27-30) who has a team of finance, marketing, innovation, supply chain and digital experts. Not only are the CCBTs empowered to conduct their business as entrepreneurial ventures, they also have a say in mergers and acquisitions.

Fireside Ventures’ Singh says big companies are more than happy to hire a failed entrepreneur. “The person with their insights is seen as an asset,” he adds.

The writing on the wall is clear – while traditional businesses will continue to thrive, millennial Indians will increasingly embrace entrepreneurship. As you will find in the trips of Fortune India’s 40 under 40 winners for 2022.

Cheryl Tenny

"Thinker. Food advocate. Incurable coffee enthusiast. Communicator. Proud student. Zombie buff. Tv fanatic. Extreme troublemaker."

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