Akaash Dudwani On Mumbai Startups, Entrepreneurship and The Startup Life

In Entrepreneurs

A work is like a self-portrait of a person who is in the pursuit of his passion. People pursuing unconventional career choices are always faced with another story of hustle. But their undeniable spirit is what helps them to keep the climb upwards. Akaash Dudwani who has a past of styling denims, scaling the growth of business models, selling liquor at a liquor store at the age of 15 and generating revenues and negotiating deals worth millions, this entrepreneur started at an age when most of us thought life was a fair play. Read this exclusive tete-e-tete with him.

Highlights of this episode

  • Understanding the mechanism of failure becoming the pillar of success. 
  • Choosing the right team members can sweep your company to success. 
  • Nurturing goodwill in the market by your personal brand and professional brand are both equally important when you are in the startup movement.

Quotes and  takeaways

  • “It is hard to explain a situation without raising skepticism when you are doing something that has never been done before…”
  • “Commercialization more often than not you can say seduces the innovation away from its original purpose.”
  • “All good companies which value their employees are always on the lookout for smart talent.”

Which was the conviction, which inclined you to pursue entrepreneurship? Was it an event of chance or an effect of deliberate planning?

I started working at a young age, so I had to work under a lot of people initially, as I interacted with these people more and more, I realised that the leadership available around is not ideal for an average person to grow. I tried various ways to get out of the system as I realised it is hard for me to work in environments where voices are not heard. I saw open minds in the start up industry and I soon realised that is where I belonged. Either I had to work with people who treated me as an equal or they are open minded enough to listen to the ideas and opinions and understand their associates or be completely on my own. As I met more and more people, it helped me realise my own goals.

Can you tell us about your startup experiences of past? What are the key takeaway lessons which you have acquired so far?

The amount of failures I have had are too many and it is difficult to pick out a few key lessons, but one very important lesson is to always be prepared for worst. Most times we are too confident of what we are doing, which is not really bad thing since the passion that drives all entrepreneurs is the force behind that confidence, we expect a particular response but the market is just too unpredictable so you have to keep trying different approaches and hence, it is best to be prepared for the worst and keep trying without losing faith in your vision.

Akaash dudwani

In a flashback, which were the most challenging times for yourself as an entrepreneur? How did you get ahead of such a time?

It is hard to explain a situation without raising skepticism when you are doing something that has never been done before, for what has never been done before is mostly too radical for people to believe in. Once the proof of validation and success is there, then people will start offering support, until then everybody will only question.

It can sometimes make you start questioning yourself, your beliefs your visions. Key is to not loose faith in yourself and keep going. I would always keep myself and those around me motivated by remind them over and over why we started and how far we have come and how it can be done. It can get very frustrating and stressful at times, but you just have to keep going on. Rome was not built in a day. Nor is a great future or a company. It takes years. And that takes patience. Lot of it.

In a world which is fast changing, do you think innovation is eventually losing its impact? What is your view on innovation when opposed to commercialization?

There are billions of people out there and our world is far from perfect. There is a lot of opportunity in the market and a lot of room for innovation. Innovation can never lose it’s impact, it’s making life of the consumers easier after all. If innovation loses its impact, we’ll just have to innovate something new then, won’t we?

Commercialization more often than not you can say seduces the innovation away from its original purpose. A lot of innovations which need to be out there find no takers, the innovators need to make sure that the purpose of their innovation never loses its essence. I think it’s the consumers who should also be more aware of what they’re being offered. Most people today are easily drawn by grandeur of commercialization because of the money involved.

Do you think that more students should come forth to purse unconventional professions?

They say everyone is unique, then why should so many unique students do all the same things? There are a lot of opportunity out there and all we need to do is look for it. Sticking to conventions will get you results which have already been achieved and what is the fun in that? Why should you follow when you can lead?

I think more students should just take some time out and think about what they want to do and what would make them happy rather than what their peers want them to do. Genius is unconventional. And genius can come out in anyway. All you have to do is try. Don not let anyone convince you otherwise.

What are the most significant KPIs for a startup in its pilot stage?

If I had to simplify it, I’d say how much your phone rings tells how good you’re doing. If it’s not ringing a lot, it’s good.

It is said that behind an able man, there are many able men. What is significance of building the right team in an organisation? 

I think building is by far the most difficult and most important task in any organisation. Many would argue, it’s the product of the company, or the idea, or the business model, but I genuinely feel it is the team. At the end of the day it’s the team that’s driving the company. Work is easy to find. Money is simply a byproduct.

What is difficult to find is a good team to work with. You find good people to work with, you will by yourself thrive. It is the atmosphere that builds brings the success and the money in.

For any successful organisation or any organisation looking for more success, the team makes all the difference. And that is what always happens. All good companies which value their employees are always on the lookout for smart talent. Some find it in a college. Some find it in a cafe. Some find it online.

Is there anything further you would add for our young entrepreneurs?

Don’t blindly follow what people tell you. Listen to your instincts and design the best course to follow them. Don’t be easily satisfied. Never settle. Always be honest to those you’re dealing with, generating goodwill helps you a lot in the long run. Don’t do anything that you don’t absolutely love.