“Rahul..naam toh suna hoga?” – This is what I related the most with the name Rahul besides having a very quiet and simple friend by that name at my work (Not Mr. Narvekar). So for a very long time I had Rahul Narvekar on my Facebook as a “friend” and had interacted a few times – always when Rahul seemed occupied and my ping seemed like an interruption. And so, being the kind of person I am , I would not want to “bother” someone who is busy. And so we never spoke much.
But I knew Rahul was the kind of entrepreneur I wanted to speak to and he probably had answers to most of my questions. And when I say answers – I firmly believe no one can solve one’s business issues better than they themselves. But speaking to a hands on person who has experience of failing and succeeding in ventures, can give you meaningful insights to what options had better probability of working and also at times the wisdom and strength to apply brakes / change direction / press gas pedal – as the need be.
So thanks to Sahiba Sethi of HelloMeets and our facebook chats where she understood my need to meet new entrepreneurs to introduce them to Poolwallet and she invited me to her series of GrowthTalks. And since Rahul Narvekar happened to be the key speaker – I decided to pounce upon the opportunity to meet him and pour out my long list of questions and in my mind I was prepared to be shameless in asking his help.
Tanmay was a wonderful, warm and energetic host. The ice breaking was done in the most traditional way of introductions but nothing was conventional about the details asked and any of the responses. All shared their passions and what they were upto these days and what bought them to Hello Meets.
As Rahul starts to speak, I am anxiously waiting for his stories about NDTV Indian Roots and Fashion and You. And we are half way through the meet and no mention of these yet. And yet, I don’t want the story telling to end. His humble beginnings, his entrepreneurial pedigree, his music channel Oxygen, significance of his birth date (1st Oct 1972), his first meeting with his now wife Pallavi Rao (who was a rockstar RJ at Radio mirchi and is now heading the CSR there)….the story goes on and Rahul literally details out all the major milestones of his life.
He kept on sharing his step by step learnings and I was busy absorbing each of them. And he agreed that he realized it very early in life that he could entertain and that he also realized that one who can entertain will always be seeked by the folks around.I finally decided , this was not the day I could ask him for any discussion on PoolWallet. I wanted to talk more about his experiences. Wanted to learn as much as I can from his experiences.
Let me share my collection of learnings from the meet :
- Perception Management – Whatever you are going through inside as a leader, as an entrepreneur – it should not show to your team unless its positive.
- Never believe your own PR – I cant stress how important this is to keep one on the ground.
- Wife / Mistress Syndrome of consumers – There are places we take things for granted and we treat it as a wife. We refuse to give premium for any service there. And then there are places we pay a premium because we want to be special there and we want to hold that attention at every cost. We are not sure if we are the only special ones so we do all we can to be one.
- Don’t keep the baggage. Move on – For people and work in your life. Move on once you see things not working as desired. Don’t just keep the baggage and stay with it. When people change their attitudes based on your success / failure – don’t be bothered. Take it in your stride.This is how the world works – accept it. If you hold on to the grudges, its only going to pull you down.
- Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey. You need to have faith and keep moving.
- Sometimes its also about being in the right place at the right time or coming across that one key person who simply changes the entire game plan for you.
- There are no templates to success.Things could work in your favor with some effort or not work for you even with all the efforts put in and management. External factors can’t be planned. An entrepreneur has to be ready to pivot really fast as the market factors change.
- Investors don’t invest purely based on excel sheets. They invest on the person, on the team that is running the start-up. So build a great team that can handle situations when things don’t go as plan A. This ability to pivot also tells investors their money is more likely to be safe and growing with such teams. Be fundable as an individual.
- Ask for help – people like helping others. They just do. Even without ROIs and having no agenda – there are many worthy and good people. Seek.
As he explains how he went through the ups and downs of life and his career with Pallavi firmly by his side, in my mind I could see them both hand in hand sliding the sine curves – always smiling and having faith and keeping a brave face forward even when they are in the troughs. And that made me think of another Bollywood dialogue more apt for Rahul than the previous one – “Dont underestimate the power of the common man.”