The success of Indian startups has galvanised a large number of Indians to take the plunge into entrepreneurship. Shark Tank India, a reality show based on a long-running programme in the U.S., perhaps best encapsulates this dream of successful entrepreneurship and the creation of untold wealth.
But making a pitch on the reality show is not as easy as it looks, according to Aman Gupta, co-founder of boAt and one of the judges on Shark Tank India. “People see on TV that it takes 10 minutes to write a cheque, but it actually takes one and a half hours. And then we do due diligence,” Gupta said in an interview with BQ Prime.
The perception that making a business pitch is easy leads many contestants to make “hollow” presentations.
According to Vineeta Singh, chief executive officer of SUGAR Cosmetics and also a judge on the show, lack of transparency and dishonesty is the quickest way for an entrepreneur to lose the room, whether pitching on Shark Tank or prospective investors.
Both Singh and Gupta have had their share of failures. However, this failure has been crucial in their journey as entrepreneurs.
“Things are different when you put business plans on paper and when you go and execute those plans. As I said, it was four failures,” said Gupta. “But you only need one success, and, touch wood, boAt has been that success. So we can talk about failures, but what I learned from them is much more than anything else. It helped me become a better entrepreneur. But you should not shy away from trying it out.”
Singh says it can be hard, however, to decide when to pull the plug on a venture that has not panned out.
“As a marathoner, I think it is in your DNA—that you’re so scared of that “did not finish” tag that you never quit. In all my failures, a couple of times I’ve been yanked out of it for various reasons rather than deciding to pull the plug,” she said.
She believes that while time usually solves many problems for a business, an entrepreneur should trust their gut. In her case, her company SUGAR Cosmetics had to “pivot” several times before finding success.
Gupta and Singh are believe in sharing success. Building a team that is equally driven as the entrepreneur is critical, they said. Sweat capital is a great motivator. According to Gupta, employee stock options are now a basic expectation at most startups.