Ambarish Gupta, CEO and Founder of #knowlarity, talking about the failures and successes in his startup journey, says that every firm starting up is a story that teaches a lot of difficult and easy lessons.
Ambarish’s first startup was an online real estate brokerage portal named Inventica that started back in 2004 in Bangalore. Ambarish recollects it as the time that saw the rise of dotcom bubble in the USA and India lagging far behind, did not find any investors for Inventica.
He explains that learning from IIT Kanpur and working in countries like the US, UK and Australia had taught him how to own a company and create a product; but one also needs to learn how to create the right product for the company, to create the right team of hardworking people, to lead the team of employees, to find the right VCs at the right time, and to sell the product which are very practical knowledge that is learnt on-the-go.
Ambarish says that founding a startup is like an acid bath because by the end of it, you would be much different from the one who went in. A startup journey takes off everything from you other than your solid determination. You need to engage with the reality – the practical world, to be successful in your startup.
The most important and difficult learning is that you cannot move things unless you face the real harsh truth. Inventica’s failure made Ambarish go back to the USA to pursue his MBA. He had also promised himself to not startup ever again.
As fate would have it, the MBA and his ambition to be independent brought Ambarish back to India in 2009 to startup with his safest billion dollar idea – Knowlarity. This was when consumer telephony was at its peak in India.
Ambarish started with enterprise telephony but found that it was difficult to make consumers pay for a service. Since telephony was the big thing then, it was the best option for Ambarish to find a way to cash in on it. It was also at the same time as the Subprime Mortgage Crisis and none of the VC capitalists were interested in funding new ventures.
Odisha’s Navin Patnaik who was competing in the elections then used Knowlarity’s Enterprise Telephony for their campaigns and promotions. Knowlarity earned INR 70 lakhs for calling up all of the 70 lakh people in Odisha asking them to vote For Patnaik.
Recollecting these times, Ambarish says that it is always better to work with the industry that is growing because it gives a lot many opportunities to move up the ladder even when you are at your worst. He also advices to keep looking for that one thing which would lift up the business, to mix creativity as much as one can to improvise in the best way to find a fighting chance. One needs to be flexible with their plans to accommodate all of the possible revenue sources.
Lastly, he also adds that while creating a product, one needs to know the kind of market and consumers that they cater too. In emerging markets, people are satisfied with less value at a lesser price and hence it is always better to simplify things than to over engineer them.