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Of late, India has become one of the most fertile territories for entrepreneurs and is already being touted as the world's fastest growing start-up ecosystem. Every nook and corner of the country is churning out young entrepreneurs who are willing to take the plunge into this exciting yet unforgiving world of start-ups. Even the investors are breaking through and readily experimenting with some risky ventures.
And then Rahul Yadav, the brash, eccentric and young ex-CEO of housing.com was fired after a one-of-a-kind public fallout.
From his public airing of the scathing email that he sent to Sequoia Capital's managing director Shailendra Singh, up to the playing the media like a guitar, this guy challenged the status quo at every step. He rejected corporate bureaucracy and a boot-licking culture. He stood up to the grey-haired investors who held the pot of gold. He is also brilliantly disrespectful and a self-serving narcissist (like many of the new breed of young entrepreneurs).
I do support Rahul Yadav even though online media is rife with his criticism of his dramatic and disrespectful behaviour. My advice to all should be to first be the CEO of a company the size of which equals housing.com and then try to belittle his achievements!
My only concern is that the Rahul Yadav saga might deter a few young talents from entering this electric world. After all, the public showdown burst the balloon around the founders/co-founders of start-ups and gave a reality check to budding entrepreneurs.
So, here are 6 lessons for a young entrepreneur to learn from this whole Rahul Yadav fiasco:
1. Go for likeminded investors
Right from the start, go for venture capitalists who have a track record of working with entrepreneurs who share similar values as you do. Put in your due diligence while seeking funding and do not be rash while selecting investors. More than the money, see their compatibility with the culture of the company that you are building, and also with yourself.
2. Sync up
You should be 100% certain that the investors are satisfied and are in sync with your company's vision and mission or else it will lead to conflicts down the line. The investors have to see the same capability, the same road map ahead for your start-up as you have envisioned. Come to an agreement on that front before any commitment.
3. Be polite!
Try and make good personal relationships with everyone who is involved with you. Being too brash and crude may backfire. Especially when blood-sucking investors are involved.
4. Your ego needs to take a backseat
You are building and managing something that you hope will last long after you are dead and gone. It has to be built with a sense of maturity. There is a tremendous responsibility towards everyone involved. Soon, it will stop being only about you. Accept that fact. With time, learn how to be a good manager. Do not stay an eccentric entrepreneur for your entire tenure. It is not a project or a start-up anymore, it is a proper company. You have to understand that it's not always about you and your talent, but how you manage a pool of others' talent and motivate them.
5. Stay away from online wars
Refrain from erratic and abusive social media behaviour to satisfy your own ego. Do not let internal company issues trickle into the public domain. Stop being an attention-seeking narcissist.
6. Get a "guru"
Have a mentor/guardian (maybe from the industry) with whom you can actually talk and depend on for guidance in tough situations.
So, there you go! These should find you in good stead.
I would like to add that there are a few things that I would not have done if I were Rahul Yadav, especially quitting and making a public spectacle out of countless spats. All this achieved was to create a ruckus and a chaotic environment around the company, feeding uncertainty in the minds of employees and various stakeholders. But all of that comes along with the package known as Rahul Yadav.
Some see glimmers of Arvind Kejriwal in him and some the nautanki of Rakhi Sawant. Some see Steve Jobs and others yet Richard Branson. But what fits him best is the cliché: Love him or hate him, you cannot ignore him.
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