Words of wisdom for entrepreneurs by Kanwal Rekhi , co-founder of TiE

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'If you are uncomfortable selling, you will not succeed as an entrepreneur'
Preeti Khicha / Bangalore Jan 09, 2012, Business Standard Publication

Entrepreneur and venture investor Kanwal Rekhi has many accolades to his credit. After selling his start-up firm Excelan, which manufactured smart Ethernet cards, to Novell, he spearheaded the company before returning 100x to his venture investors. He also co-founded TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) to promote entrepreneurship. Now managing director of Inventus Capital, an early-growth venture firm, the entrepreneurial spirit is still alive.

In an interview with Business Standard, he describes the prerequisites of an entrepreneur.
  • The one big thing an entrepreneur needs to do is to sell. An entrepreneur needs to sell to himself, to his spouse, to his mom, father-in-law… and then to people who work with you, and to investors who give you money, and to the customers long before the real product is out. So if you are uncomfortable selling, you will not succeed as an entrepreneur.
  • If you are going to start a business only for the money then it is a very tough journey. You need to have this burning desire to prove yourself. There are certain other traits that entrepreneurs need to have. One is intellectual honesty. You can fool others but you cannot fool yourself. And every day you need to reaffirm if I am on the right track. You need to be able to be your own worst critic.
  • Get out and engage with customers sooner than later. If you stay focused on the lab to work on your product, the market may have moved. Customer feedback is very important. Also do not underestimate competition; stay on top of it. They can undercut you. Keep your friends close and keep your enemies closer. A lot of entrepreneurs ignore their competition. Also keep your talent and investors happy as you always need more money.
  • Passion alone is not enough and a certain amount of discipline is brought by outside money. So if you want to pursue a dream, don't do it with your own money. A venture capitalist will ensure you focus on the right things. You need to be held accountable and you should not be doing random work.