‘Entrepreneurship is about struggle and pain’

KV Kurmanath Hyderabad | Updated on January 17, 2018

Serial entrepreneur Gururaj ‘Desh’ Deshpande

Serial entrepreneur Gururaj ‘Desh’ Deshpande says building a winning culture should be a priority for all leaders

Venture capitalist and serial entrepreneur Gururaj ‘Desh’ Deshpande, who made it big in the Silicon Valley, is a low-key man. It is not easy to locate him in a crowd. But it is not difficult to engage him in a conversation if you can weave questions around the challenges an entrepreneur faces and social impacts of entrepreneurship.

The 65-year-old entrepreneur, who built firms such as Sycamore Networks, Cascade Communications, Airvana, Cimaron and Tejas Networks, says entrepreneurship is riddled with hardship, and is about struggle.

Busy making social entrepreneurs through his Deshpande Foundation and helping his peers set up ‘Sandboxes’ — his Hubli-based social entrepreneurship model — across the country, Deshpande talks passionately about the building blocks of entrepreneurship and how easy or difficult it is to transform people into change agents.

“Entrepreneurship is about struggle and pain’; if people are not willing to undergo this, they are not going to be successful,” Deshpande told BusinessLine when he visited Kakatiya Sandbox in Nizamabad recently.

Conviction and failures

Talking about his book On Entrepreneurship and Impact’, he said the keyword that matters the most for a first-time entrepreneur is conviction. “There are going to be problems of all sizes, shapes and colours. You will witness detours, roadblocks and speed bumps more often than you anticipate.”

The 105-page book talks in simple language on various attributes of a good entrepreneur. “In some ways, entrepreneurship is like playing with fire. Starting a new venture without being ready is like sticking your hand in the fire.”

“Don’t treat a single failure as a setback or a blemish on your record but as a learning opportunity,” he advises.

He says building a winning culture should be a priority for all leaders irrespective of the size of the company they lead.

The three elements of building a winning start-up culture is — shunning ego, cohesiveness and the ability to listen to feedback.

“You can change direction only if you and your team listen to feedback without being biased.”

The book also tackles how to manage conflicts with co-founders, when to leave a company, how to avoid taking bad decisions, how to achieve work-life balance, how to comeback from a failure and how to stay ahead of competition.

“The book is not an autobiography. It is about entrepreneurship. It takes some 24 questions that an entrepreneur faces at some point of his journey and answers them in a page or two,” Deshpande says.

He advises entrepreneurs to keep simplifying their lives. “If anything is hard, it is impossible to do it. People should not complicate things. The simpler your approach, the more likely it is for you can achieve something.”

Published on July 08, 2016

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