Dec 28, 2015

Following dreams…



“It needs nerves of steel to follow your dreams,” says Meenakshi Shenoy, Founder of Corporate Database Recruitment Consultants, a senior level search firm.  While she may be talking about the start-up boom in Bangalore, the statement could well apply to her journey as an entrepreneur.
“The timing was right,” she says, recalling those early days of entrepreneurship.  “IT was booming and there were plenty of opportunities.”  Of course, there were challenges too. You have to be in the driver’s seat and never lose focus says Meenakshi.  She started small, with just 4-5 clients. Initially, clients would seek her services to recruit Project Managers or Programmers, but gradually as they saw her passion for recruitment and her professional services, the requirements and the clients grew bigger. Today, she takes great pride in being a boutique consulting firm catering to a very niche market.
We caught up with Meenakshi Shenoy for a free-wheeling chat to understand how the entrepreneurial landscape has changed over the years.  Here’s an excerpt.

What made you strike on your own as an entrepreneur?
I have always been an entrepreneur at heart. I started to develop the confidence to establish my venture. This is my passion and purpose. Success is finding joy in creating whatever it is you set out to create.

Didn’t you ever think about having your own office set-up?
I did toy with the idea of having my own independent office space but a serviced office works well in terms of costs, facilities and support services. You don’t have the headache of running an independent office. The Golden Square team is very responsible and professional and I feel safe even if I’m working late. Their customer care is amazing! We’ve moved into the virtual office zone today, which allows you to work from any part of the world.

Any logistic challenges that you faced then?
Initially I was sourcing only out of Bangalore. Companies wanted talent pool from all over India and having people relocate to Bangalore was a challenge!

What kind of changes have you seen in Bangalore’s entrepreneurial landscape over the years?
Earlier, people were averse to risk. They wanted a secure job and parental approval. In fact, many did not want to move from an Indian Corporate to a Multinational. Today, the younger generation is more willing to take risks. In fact, even failed entrepreneurs are the most sought after today! Startups have to have leaders who have the skills to lead!
The latest Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking by San Francisco-based Compass, rates Bangalore as the world's 2nd fastest growing startup ecosystem…
Bangalore has definitely made a dent. Actually, investments started coming into Bangalore when SM Krishna was the Chief Minister. Many companies moved into Bangalore then.
The entry of private equity funding and venture capitalists has encouraged a lot of start-ups. In fact, there are more start-ups than MNCs in Bangalore today! Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and the many success stories emanating from the Silicon Valley have inspired youngsters. In fact, even those in their 40s want to quit their jobs, move out of their comfort zone, roll up their sleeves and chase their dreams.

How do you think the start-up scene will pan out?
It’s a cycle. Some companies have made the cut and some haven’t as funding is shrinking especially in the last 2 months. Most Investors say it will pickup in 2-3 years. Investors are more keen on profits and will not have their investee companies burn cash and want them to save money. Startups are shutting, laying off people and investors pulling out funds and questions are being raised whether startups will last. Startups have to be sustainable. Confidence to back yourself is the number one challenge which one has to overcome. It is something that you need to keep working on as you take on bigger challenges in business and work. There are a lot of people wanting to be entrepreneurs but it requires a certain maturity. It’s not as easy as it sounds. I am not dissuading the youngsters here, but grey hair has its wisdom. It needs nerves of steel to follow your dreams. Resilience and Perseverance are the keys to achievement.

Looking back at your journey as an entrepreneur do you have any regrets?
It’s been an interesting journey with a lot of learning. I witnessed the Dot Com boom and the subsequent bust, Y2K, the emergence of start-ups…and today I work with some of the best MNCs and startups. The path has been challenging, exhilarating, frustrating at times but definitely fulfilling.

This article is written by Nahida Sunil 

Dec 7, 2015

Cash is King- for Startups



Cash is King. Very important to remember specially when you are a bootstrapping startup. One big expense for any business is the office space. There are various ways to cut costs on office infrastructure, work from a garage, work from home, share an office. One of our members however demonstrated how to have best of both worlds, save office costs and at the same time have an excellent space for collaboration.


This team let's call them “S Team” for Smart Team. Did the following.


  1. All 5 Team members worked from their own homes.
  2. Used online collaboration tools like Google Docs, Skype, Hangouts.
  3. Booked the Golden Square Conference Room once a week for 3 hours for brainstorming and reviews. These are best done face to face. And the air conditioned conference room has projector and WiFi.
  4. Booked the meeting room, 2-3 times a week for meeting with clients, partners, vendors. To have a professional and productive meeting. (Cafes can be very disturbing)
  5. Used one of the founder’s residences for registering their business.


What would this have cost  per month:-


Item
Rate (Rs.)

Quantity
Per Month
Conference Room for 5 -Once a week for 3 Hrs each
600
Hr
12
7200
Meeting Room -  three times a week 1 Hr each
250
Hr
12
3000
Tea and Coffee
15
Cup
44
660
Snap Office Membership Rs.3000/- year. Of which Rs.1500/- set off against services and space useage.
1500
Yr
1
125
Cost per Month



10985


Rs.10,985/- per month for a team of 5 to have an office for collaboration and meetings.


This is what one of our members had to share:


“As a lean, bootstrapped Start-up, we wanted a decent office space on demand for our meetings/interviews and still save money. Golden Square Virtual Office Solution is the best in this category. It is not only affordable, but also comes with superior service. I would not hesitate a bit in recommending this to anyone who is looking to save money on office spaces yet get the benefits of managed office.”


Sathish
Founder, www.textnook.com


At Golden Square experience “Joy at Work”

Dec 1, 2015

Growth through Trust



At no other time in history is ‘trust’ more important for business than today. Trust fuels businesses, helps them not just survive the many onslaughts of a competitive global economy, but sustain and thrive. And I speak from experience.

The fifth branch of Golden Square that is getting ready to welcome customers at Bangalore CBD South , is a direct result of Trust built over the years and I am both proud and humbled to share this story with you.

First, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Narendra Bhatta for referring me to the owners of the building. Narendra Bhatta is the Founder Partner and CEO of Intellocopia a leading consulting firm in the area of Intellectual Property, which helps small and medium businesses realize value through effective protection, management and enforcement of various IPRs, namely, Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights and Design.

Now let me share how the referral came to be.

Speed of Trust:

I was at a networking meeting at BNI Inspire chapter, when Narendra Bhatta introduced me glowingly to a lady, and told her: “You have to meet Balaji he has the solution you need.” The lady had a bunch of pamphlets with her. She was trying to find the right tenant for a building she owned. Since I was surrounded by people all I said was, "Madam, we can help you get double the return from your building if we can manage your building as a Golden Square Business Centre. Let me know if you would be interested," and I gave her my card. I thanked Narendra for introducing us.

A few weeks later I got a call from the lady's husband, he said he was interested in taking this further.

This demonstrated to me speed of trust. If it wasn’t for the confidence with which Narendra introduced me at the networking event which gave me visibility, I doubt this opportunity would have ever happened and that too, with such speed. Do compare this with a typical sales process.

Trust takes time:

So I asked Narendra, “Why did you refer me?” and he said, "When I spoke to the lady regarding her property, during networking, she expressed a desire for letting out the entire property to someone trusted and wanted to build value to the property. The words ‘TRUST’ and ‘VALUE’ although they appear distinct are related and symbiotic. While I knew a person who was into property rentals, only one person I knew of, who could link trust and value, seamlessly was YOU. I, personally Trust you, since I know you for long and have seen how properties and businesses increase value when they get on to Golden Square, so I told her I know the ONLY person who can help you do this and connected her to you.”

Frankly, I am humbled by what Narendra shared with me, I do pray I live up to the expectations he has of me. I wondered how it was that Narendra got so much confidence in me.

I got to know Narendra when I was helping him and some other entrepreneurs set up their networking group BNI Inspire, about five years back. I never really talked about Golden Square, but focused on helping him build their network. Narendra and I got along well, I understood his business and over the years have passed on a few referrals to him. So the relationship did take some time to develop and over time we got to know each other better. My learning from this: To build trust, people need to see us delivering on our promises over time. Trust happens because of several well done interactions.

Cannot Happen without Trust:-

We have a revenue share arrangement with the building owners, there is a lot of investment that the owners need to bring in, both in the building and the interiors to meet the specifications of Golden Square. That is the reason why Golden Square’s expansion cannot happen without trust. And trust can only happen over time with our business network. How the trust translates to business is random, there is no linearity to this. However trust does translate to business, I can say this with confidence because 3 out of our 5 branches till date have happened because of a referral. One from a customer and two from the BNI Business Network.

So what do you think is the most valuable business commodity? I haven’t an iota of doubt on this question. My answer is “Trust”. What’s yours?