While startups look sexy from outside, they are always in a state of flux.
We recently spoke to Lohith who has worked with medium-to-big corporate firms (like Samsung, InMobi) and joined Plustxt, which recently got acquired by One97. As cofounder of Plustxt, Lohith was heading technology.
1. How would you sum up your startup experience vis-a-vis working for big firms?
One of the main advantage I personally think that the startups have over the big firms is the quick decision making ability. Even if some of the decision are wrong, it is important to fail fast and know what works and what does not work. Though wherever possible, it is extremely important to be data driven in decision making, many a times in big firms unfortunately decision making process enter the paralysis by analysis stage.
One more reason this may happen is because of too many stakeholders involved which increases the viewpoints and hence challenging to reach a consensus. I feel some of the successful big firms are those who have encouraged individuals to take risks and clearly defined whose neck is on line by avoiding overlapping responsibilities.
If one is on a poverty line or has lot of financial commitment then it is better to wait before being adventurous
Another different experience I think is that in big firms as many of us know, one is hired with a specific role in mind and his or her responsibility revolves around that. In doest not mean one cannot contribute or pickup other challenging initiatives but it becomes difficult as compared to startup where one can pickup different challenging responsibilities based on the interests. For e.g. in Plustxt even though my primary contribution was in product and engineering, as an additional responsibility I was helping and contributing on the marketing mainly in SEO and ASO.
2. While startups are devoid of bureaucracy, there is also a fair bit of uncertainty! What’d be your advice to those who want to join a startup?
Uncertainty is part of a startup because in many case either one is building a new product or making the existing product in a new improved method and in the process basically disrupting the existing norms. I personally think this uncertainty of walking on a road less travelled is what makes the journey exciting and challenging. During the course of the journey there will be many a times when one would want to jump out of the window because of many reasons.
It is important for an entrepreneur to have patience but at the same time maintain sense of urgency. At the risk of sounding cliche, being perseverant and not giving up easily is very important qualities for any entrepreneur.
Firstly, I truly believe success is not having or starting with a great idea but in fact idea is just incidental. The key point to understand is that “execution is everything”.
Secondly, I would want to suggest folks wanting to start up to come out of their comfort zone. If one is techie then it is important to understand the business, and if one is business expert it is important to understand the technology. I am not saying one has to master all the domains but basic understanding is necessary.
Lastly, regarding raising capital, I think first one must invest all their energy in building a great business and if this is successful investors will queue up and approach should not be the other way around.
3. Reasons to avoid joining a startup?
I think “mortgage” is the worst enemy for entrepreneurs. If one is on a poverty line or has lot of financial commitment then it is better to wait before being adventurous. In my case, I built up some savings before taking a plunge. I think if one has financial cushion to some extent, then lot of confidence will seep into the decision-making and risk taking ability.
Also it is important to be ready to sacrifice good couple of years of earnings and live with basic needs. Having a budget planned for whatever time horizon and keeping the burn rate low will help even during post funded phase.
4. Reasons one should join a startup?
Anybody who enjoys and believes in the points listed in question 2.