The KSeeker

In Search of Knowledge…

Tips to an entrepreneur

Posted by Girish Krishnan on June 18, 2006

This post is taken from the notes made by me on August 13th, 2005

— Not all those who wander are lost: Tolkien 

Being in the premier business school of our country for the last four months has given me the chance to hear a lot of good speakers.Akin to companies, there are good and great in this field also. Manish Saberwal falls into the second league. I didn't quite believe it when our PAEV (which stands for Planning An Entrepreneurial Venture) professor Dr Ramachandran said he was a great speaker. The feeling didn't kick in even during the first 10mins of the speech. But it did'nt take long before i was hooked on completely, and what a strong one that was!!

Manish is a pragmatic guy and that reflects in his speech. What makes it better is that he is flashy too; his speech has a lot of seasoning which everyone in this part of the world like! Manish started his professional career in 1990 with the Nagarjuna Group. He went to Wharton to do his MBA in 1994 and had a clear cut vision to make an entrepreneurial entry into the insurance sector in India. During his summer break, he came back to India and visited 15 cities as part of his investigations on whether his Insurance venture was feasible or not. In 1996 India Life was born. From pension/ asset management it went into provident fund administration to payroll administration to offering full-scale HR outsourcing services. In between, it had raised VC funding from VIEW Group. Got into a JV with Hewitt (to form India LIfe-Hewitt) in 2000 and later, Hewitt bought out 100% equity. Manish is now in the process of stabilizing and growing Team Lease to be the largest private sector employer in the country!!!!!!

As our professor rightly said, there are not many entrepreneurs who are successful every time they start a venture..Manish seems to be among the very few who got it right the second time also.

Here's what i found interesting in his talk:

  • Myth of starting from scratch; Einstein
    Key is not in discovering new lands but seeing with new eyes
  • Focus on big opportunities; same energy for 10 cr or 100 cr
    Biggest danger is not aiming too high and missing
  • God is not on the side of the biggest armies but the best shots
    If she’s on the other side, think again
  •  Money;  Raise as little as you can, as late as you can
     Team;  As good, as early as you can
  • Myth of individual hero; entrepreneurship is team sport
    Can’t fire a missile from a canoe
    Don’t Need; impulsiveness, charisma, operating experience, flamboyance, intelligence, or money
    Need; team, optimism, and courage 
  • Commitment sets into motion forces you cannot and need not understand
    Hernando Cortez; burn boats
    Boldness has power, magic and genius
  • To form a Team
    You have to kiss many frogs before you find the prince
    Get some grey hair also in the team, Give equity, P&L responsibilities

Controversial Lessons:

  • Perspiration can only take you so far; Inspiration.
    More cooks or Better recipe?
  • Uncertainty is what makes journeys meaningful; Maktub
  • Some problems cannot be solved but must be survived
  • Human Beings are irrational and imperfect; cracked vessel
    Fear, greed, ignorance, bounded rationality, aversion to change, etc
  • Power of timing; Auspicious moment? — I believe it is true!
  • Power of fidayeen — It works
  • The only thing worse than being wrong is being confused; Mask of Command


  • Hang out with smart people who dream big
    Athletes call “fast field”
    Walk with a cripple for a year and you will start limping; Bertoldo
  • Indian Family Businesses – Sexually transmitted CEOship vs. self destruct
  • Best bet is hybrid; Bisexual gets a date more easily!!!
  • DNA Authoring – Go for a Baby and not a Dwarf when you envisage a company
  • Confluence of ethical and practical
    100/0 are bad odds; Playing to win is not playing dirty
    Softest pillow is a clear conscience (When in Rome, don’t do as Romans do)
  • Remember- Anybody can be lucky or unlucky; being unprepared is unforgivable
    Good judgment comes from experience
  • What we teach and what you need to learn
    The hardest part is “the beginning of work”

 An overwhelming applause at the end of it all doesnt do as much justice to the speech as anyone would expect. I guess somebody putting some of these pearls into action would clear the debt we have towards thanking this great speaker. As he concluded…"Good Luck and Godspeed"..


2 Responses to “Tips to an entrepreneur”

  1. Greetings!..-pharma

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