INDIA: The recent episode of Transcontinental Times’ ‘Smart Entrepreneurship Decoded’ features Annurag Batra, who in 2001 brought forth the idea of building communities and B2B business in media space which was unheard of then, and today he is a pioneer of that market place.
A mentor in entrepreneurship and also a believer of reverse-mentorship; learning from his entrepreneurs, Annurag Batra is the Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of business media and magazine brand BW Businessworld.
Batra is a serial entrepreneur, media mogul, a journalist and an eternal optimist rolled into one.
Batra starts by talking about the evolution of reading from printed world to the screen, at the same time he stresses, “Despite everything digital today, I don’t think the printed world is going anywhere, in fact it will get only more premium and important. Anything in scarcity has its own value. The digital experience is a lean forward experience, whereas reading from a magazine or book, is a lean back experience. But there is a need of both, lean forward and lean back experience.”
Batra further carries on with his idea of a market place for media, an idea way ahead of time in 2001.
“First of all I started to build exchange for media not to build a media company, but to build an e-commerce platform, to build a market place for media. We started in 2000 and were possibly ahead of time for such ideas and the industry wasn’t ready, but if I were to attempt the market place today, it is the perfect time. Today we all know the value of B2B e-commerce and that content is the glue to build community. The market is open to new players, B2B e-commerce and technology. Today we have to be a content tech player; a media plus model and not just a traditional media model.”
Evolution of entrepreneurship
“I believe in reverse mentoring, we can learn from younger people. There are some things we can tell younger people, but when it comes to digital, technology or risk taking, I think the younger people are better than us. I started 21 years back, but the eco-system of entrepreneurship has evolved with time. There are big success today, so many role models people can look up to. Meanwhile there are also many failures in entrepreneurship that people can learn from and it is the nature of entrepreneurship to learn from experiences. An entrepreneur never fails, it is the project or idea that can fail. Today entrepreneurship has the support system derived from 4 particulars; the policies of the government, the capital that is available, the mentorship that is available and the routes to exit that are available, whether it is a listing or merger and acquisition. These factors are so robust in India that we are becoming a startup nation like never before.”
“Our prime minister Narendra Modi in 2015 gave the word ‘startup India,’ for which a lot of people mocked him saying it was just another slogan. But when the prime minister of the country says it is okay to fail, it changes the wiring in a lot of people and of the society, the impact of which we have seen in the last 6 years and we will see ahead.”
The key to entrepreneurship
“Entrepreneurship is hard. I failed at a couple of things. Entrepreneurship is not easy, we should not glamorize it. The sacrifice and hardwork in entrepreneurship is often understated. I have worked for around 15 hours a day and there have been so many challenges. I don’t find the need of aholiday, because vacation and partying for me itself is my work, that’s how much I love doing it. So in entrepreneurship choose something that you naturally enjoy doing, so irrespective of moderate success or massive success, you will definitely enjoy your work.”
“I don’t use the word entrepreneur, I use the word serendipitous, because it is a more positive word. I would say if you want to be a successful entrepreneur, the single biggest quality is to deal with uncertainties and complexities; the ability to solve problems and make an impact. An entrepreneur’s life is VUCA ( short for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity).”
“I may sound old fashioned, but hard work and passion will go a long way in entrepreneurship. Successful entrepreneurs means those who are not in it just for the money, but for the ideas. An idea is like a child, so they want to nurture that child. As an entrepreneur, you need to keep evolving and use criticism to improve. Last but not the least, collaborative people, both internally and externally, become successful entrepreneurs. Whether it is raising capital or partnering with customers, being collaborative will build you individually, which will help build entrepreneurship.”