The spirit of entrepreneurship, captured by a bestselling author.
Rashmi Bansal’s stories are about entrepreneurs. With four bestsellers, she is now a name to reckon with in Indian non-fiction writing. Her fifth book on women entrepreneurs will hit the bookstores in March.
While her first book, Stay Hungry Stay Foolish (2008), was on MBAs and the start-up brigade of IIM-Ahmedabad, her second, Connect the Dots (2010), focused on non-MBAs, and the third, I Have a Dream (2011), dwelt on social entrepreneurs.
Her search for flickers of Indian entrepreneurship led her to Asia’s largest slum, Dharavi, and her fourth book, Poor Little Rich Slum (2012). Together, the four titles have sold over 6 lakh copies.
Her own career path has taken several interesting turns. Despite a preference for English literature, she studied economics before entering the portals of IIM-A.
She liked only human resource development and marketing, and found the rest of her MBA course boring. But that did not stop her from joining the institute’s leadership and entrepreneurial motivation course.
In the final semester, she stayed out of the placement rat race and opted to write. People around her thought she was being foolish.
“I floated a youth magazine — Just Another Magazine — in 1995. It is still there, but only in digital form. This has, in a way, been my first entrepreneurial venture too. But I always aimed to write a book.”
That opportunity arose in 2007, when IIM-A approached her to write one. Inspired by the famous Steve Jobs quote, Stay Hungry Stay Foolish - about 25 IIM graduates who became successful entrepreneurs - was meant to inspire students to “look beyond the placement”. This was at a time when B-school placements made headline for their seven- or eight-digit salaries.
“It was not in the mould of case studies - figures and facts and detailed strategies,” she says. Rather, it chronicled the trials, tribulations and ecstasies - all in a conversational style.
Published by the business school’s incubator — Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship, the book struck the right chord, sold nearly three lakh copies, and was translated into eight languages.
Her next book came about through the Eklavya Foundation, which is spearheaded by her mentor in entrepreneurship, Sunil Handa.
Tata Group's Westland published her third book, I Have a Dream, and also bought up the publishing rights for the first two.
She is now ready with her fifth book.
“The book’s title, Follow Every Rainbow, has just been finalised. Westland remains my publisher,” Rashmi says.
“My next book will be released on March 8 — Women’s Day. You know, I realised later that my first two books featured only four women. So I decided to write one that looks at women’s motivation and their ways of doing business, which are different from those of men. The idea is to bring out the stories of women who have used their talents of entrepreneurship,” she says.
Fascinated by the idea of entrepreneurship, for her it is nothing short of creativity.
And so, it was only a matter of time before she embarked down that path herself, with a publishing start-up. Financing does not worry her. “It comes along once you hit the road,” she says with confidence.
Eager to stay hungry and creative, she also plans a TV show on entrepreneurs, saying, “It ought to be a new learning process.”