April 3, 2017

Speaking on the occasion of “Book Launch of Suresh Bharwani”, New Delhi

….unlearn over your long journey as an entrepreneur, as an industrialist, as a trainer and as someone who has always wanted to give back and share with society. I am delighted that you have chosen to come up with this guidebook, more so because I have gone through the entrepreneurial journey myself right from very young days when I was only 17 years old. And can, in some sense, understand where you come from when you share all your experiences. You were just mentioning about your radio manufacturing units, of course, you forgot to mention that it was hugely successful first. I still remember the Jetking Radio and then the Radio Kit was almost a household name in most parts of India.

And then, of course, technology probably overtook you, the advent of television, at that point of time radio took a beating and possibly the business didn’t do so well. But unless somebody falls, one can’t rise higher. So, in that sense, despite some setbacks that you had in the radio business or even in the TV manufacturing business, I am delighted that you persevered; you continued your entrepreneurial journey. You had that never-say-die spirit. You were willing to experiment. You were willing to look at newer options. And, suddenly, your Jetking School of Electronic Technology has played a very very important role as you just mentioned coming out with 700,000 students trained and skilled in different areas of electronics or electrical engineering. It’s truly a remarkable contribution to society.

And I am delighted that you have now chosen to also give people a tool in their hand, a ready guidebook, to help them be entrepreneurs. You very rightly pointed out Prime Minister Modi’s programme of encouraging job creators, not job seekers. And I think entrepreneurship is all about opportunities, it’s all about letting your mind explore new ideas, be willing to fail, willing to rise again from failure, willing to look at new ideas with an open mind. And I am sure, some of the thoughts that you have brought out in this book will help people in the future live their dreams, live the vision, live the mission of their lives.

In fact, in some sense, they say there is no more loyal friend than a book. And I am sure, this book that you brought out in a very quiet way will help your friends in their entrepreneurial journey. I am sure it will be a wise counselor for the people who are embarking on new ideas, embarking on the journey of entrepreneurial. And just like your own personality – very patient, very calm, very composed, very unassuming, quite unlike Nandu, of course, but just like your personality your book in a very very understated fashion speaks your own journey, speaks about your own experiences. And I am sure will help people navigate through the myriad problems that one faces when you are an entrepreneur.

In fact, somebody had once said that ‘I have not failed; I have just found 10,000 ways not to succeed.’ And in that sense, entrepreneurship is one dream or something which people with a lot of self-confidence and a lot of perseverance to succeed can only do. It’s not something that each and everyone can really embark on. I, of course, didn’t know you are so fluent and so good in Sanskrit, that’s a revelation today. I wish I could have learned Sanskrit that would have been great.

Your own journey of 40 years, I think has seen, seen it all. And it’s only when you experience things that you are able to share it with others. Your sharing of experiences and in a very nice way you have used a lot of pictures as they say pictures speak a thousand words. You have used a lot of quotes, a lot of graphs. The language is quite simple. I had an opportunity to glance through the book, it’s quite simple in its language, so easy for somebody who is probably just starting out of this journey. And, particularly, the start-stop continued tool that you have used at the end of each chapter, it will help the readers to pen down their own experiences, their own learnings, develop their own models how they want to proceed further in their entrepreneurial journey.

And I am sure these learning will hold entrepreneurs in good stead when they probably look at facing or confronting the real world. Of course, you were just now talking about various concepts from your book in some way. I thought I found the book broadly centered around 3 parts. One, you have talked about the mindset that is required to start a business. Second, you have looked at trying to advise people to find the right target market. And third, you have talked about scaling of business and business models. Of course, today, every business is about customers. Mahatma Gandhi had also said customer is king. And gradually, more and more people are understanding that no business can succeed unless your customer is happy, you have a satisfied customer base. We are in this hotel right now, hospitality is all about customer service. When you are doing your training programme, it’s all about your, the recipients of your training telling their friends, telling other people how good or useful it was.

You very rightly reminded me, I didn’t recall it immediately. Though my wife mentioned while we were driving in here that I have done a programme with you, I could not immediately recall it. But I remember now, it was probably soon after the 2004 election defeat when we were all yearning for new ideas, how to get back into success in politics.

In fact, in the government also we are trying to bring customer-centric management philosophy in the working of government. Because no organisation can be successful unless your customers are happy. In some sense, the public sector undertakings are also reorienting their business models to become more customer-focused, satisfy customer urges, satisfy customer tastes, satisfy customer preferences, provide services at an affordable price at which customers want to accept your service. After all, you can’t anymore pass on your inefficiencies to your customers.

I very often take the example, if two companies are producing water of bottled mineral water, if one is an efficient company and the other is not as efficient and, possibly, uses 20% more plastic in their bottle or skims money from the company and the cost of production is 10-15-20-30% more, uses more labour, for instance, wastes some energy. And the cost of production on that inefficient model, if it was to be 20% more, he can’t go to the customer and say, look, you know, I am an inefficient fellow, please pay me 20% more but help me make a profit. No customer is going to accept that. The public sector undertakings are also understanding this now. Entrepreneurs are competing on the basis of quality, both quality of product, quality of service.

And, therefore, I am delighted that you have focused on being customer centric when you are an entrepreneur. The mindset is clearly the basic foundation of an entrepreneur. As I said earlier, everybody can’t be an entrepreneur. You need that entrepreneurial vision, ability, the willingness to fail, willingness to take risks, the willingness to work that extra hour. Then there is no golf courses and there is no working hours, it’s a 24/7 on the job. In fact, in entrepreneurship one of the important things that you have also stressed about is problem solving. I think problem is a problem only until you have found the solution, and then it’s no more a problem.

At the India Today Conclave, only last week, Prime Minister Modi in his address had talked about the fact that only 2-3 years ago, India used to be a country perpetually starved of power, starved of coal and that was a problem before the nation. It’s no more a problem today, nobody talks about it, nobody worries about it. It’s got resolved. It was a deep problem, a serious problem. It’s no more a problem. A solution was found. It was resolved. Therefore, problem should not deter anybody in his entrepreneurial journey. A problem should not be something that holds us back in our work. And I must compliment you Sureshji and your family for your ability to bounce back, again and again and again.

In fact, one of the quotes that you have used in the book, I would like to share it with all the esteemed participants of this evening’s programme. Where you said, ‘give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it and I will move the world.’ Archimedes had probably said this. I hope I am pronouncing it right, I don’t know. Archimedes had spoken about the ability of an entrepreneur or of a thinker to move the world if he has the right tools. And entrepreneurship is all about the willingness to think big, the willingness to take big challenges, look at every problem, every crisis as an opportunity to do better.

And, of course, if I may share also with all of you one of the examples that Sureshji and Harsh have written about in the book, it’s the story of Bata. Many companies sent their market research people to India to study if there was a business opportunity in India to sell footwear. At that point of time, most Indians used to wear sandals, shoes was not in vogue in India. Most companies’ research people went back from India and said there is no market in India, nobody wears shoes, everybody seems to be wearing sandals. But the people who came to research for Bata went back and reported, my God, this is a huge market. Nobody wears shoes so look at the huge market opportunity that is there in India. We can sell shoes to almost everybody in the country. And you need that vision, that thinking, that out-of-the-box ability to look at an opportunity, find an opportunity where one thought none existed. That’s what true entrepreneurship is all about.

This government is also trying to promote entrepreneurship in every respect – the Startup India, Standup India programme, be it the Mudra Yojana where we are trying to give low-cost funds, make it easier for young entrepreneurs to, as you rightly said, become job generators, not job creators, not only job seekers. Almost 6 crore people have been given loan from as small as a small Rs 5,000-10,000 loan to a Rs 10 lakh loan to help entrepreneurs in their business. It could be just a goldsmith, it could be a carpenter, it could be a mason, it could be a hawker on the street, it could be a small retailer having a small corner shop. Different trades, different vocations, different service providers, getting these small loans helping them flourish in life.

I recently came across a small example, a lady who only two years ago had benefited from a Mudra loan of Rs 15,000 to get a sewing machine. I think her entrepreneurial spirit must have been somewhat like yours because she didn’t take that machine and start sewing clothes and become a tailor. She made a coaching centre around that sewing machine. She trained 15 other ladies and took a charge by which her entire loan got repaid out of the training of 15 ladies in the first 6 months, made 15 new entrepreneurs take a Mudra Loan and then brought them all together into a kind of a startup and started a tailoring activity, which I am told today supports some 30-40 people in less than 2 years. Starting from a single sewing machine, training people to become seamstresses, or tailors and, ultimately, making this a business model.

I must compliment that lady for her vision, not restricting herself to one tailor, one unit tailor shop or just doing tailoring and maybe earning a small amount of money, but to have the vision to put together a group of ladies and plan to become a larger than what she probably, originally, would have had the capacity to do. And that’s the spirit of India. That’s the spirit of young India. And I think that’s the spirit of New India that Prime Minister Modi articulated only a few days back. A New India, an emerging India, a powerful India, an India where the youth of this country aspire for a better quality of life, an India which is always at edge wanting more, as they say, यह दिल मांगे more. और आप उसी से मांगते हो जिससे आपको लगता है कि उसके पास कुछ देने की क्षमता है | आखिर भिखारी भी उसी के पास जाता है जिससे उसको लगता है कुछ मिलेगा | यह 7 लाख लोग जो आपके technology institute में आये वह इसीलिए ज़रूर आये होंगे उनको कुछ लगा होगा कि आपसे सीखके बाहर जायेंगे तो कुछ एक ज़िन्दगी अच्छी बना पाएंगे | शायद मैं भी आपके पास 2004 में इसी के लिए आया कि मुझे विश्वास था कि आपसे कुछ सीख पाउँगा| And I hope I am a good student. तो यह आज गुरु दक्षिणा देने आया हूँ|

So thank you very much for this opportunity to be amongst all of you. Thank you for the privilege of giving this book, the Entrepreneurs Guidebook with simple tools to enhance entrepreneurial journey of many more people in the days and years to come. It’s been a privilege and I wish you and your family well Sureshji. I wish your institute well, and I wish all the students who have come out of your institute and all those entrepreneurs who will read this book great success in their lives.

Thank you very much.

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