Tomador de Riesgos – ‘Susanta Misra’

As we end 2014 and step into 2015, we also end this guest series called ‘Tomador de Riesgos’ which is Spanish for ‘risk taker’. So far we’re read about different perspectives from different entrepreneurs and most of the featured entrepreneurs are fairly young and new to the game. Today I present to you a completely different perspective on entrepreneurship. As a curator and knowledge seeker, I believe it’s important to view something as a whole- a 360 degree view. In this last post FDB is featuring an inspiring entrepreneur who has a very rich library of knowledge to share. He is also a very important person in my life. He’s my mentor, uncle, friend, sounding board, and teacher all rolled into one.

I hope that this guest series has been useful in some way to you guys. If you’d like to see more of these or similar series, comment below or drop me an email. Happy new year!

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Sunayana asked me if I would oblige to write about my journey as an entrepreneur. It was like asking a child, would you mind to have a chocolate or an ice cream ?  At the age of 45, I was a budding entrepreneur and at the age of 50, I am a budding author.  I am happy to write and I am happier to share my writing..

Incidentally, I just finished my first book ‘Ready  To Fly’. It is now available in the market. Will talk more about the book at a later point of time. You can also visit susanta.in to know more about it.
Ready To Flye

‘Ready to Fly’ written by Susanta Misra

Contrary to popular belief, entrepreneurs are very lonely people. Many of them are known for building great organizations and great teams. But they, themselves are very lonely. Dreaming is one of the few things that cannot be done in a team. Dreams are very personal and if you cannot dream, you may not have a great chance in enjoying your entrepreneurial journey. Not all dreamers are entrepreneurs but almost all entrepreneurs are dreamers.
So, what dream did I have or do I have?
Let me first tell you what dream I didn’t have.  I never had a dream of becoming a billionaire or being in the cover page of a popular magazine or having a business empire.  My dream actually started from a nightmare.! I had many sleepless nights wondering where were we going with our jobs and careers. The stress levels were mounting with the uncertainties in jobs, growing imbalances in work-life balance, deterioration in health and financial stability. There came my dream — a dream of a world where everyone enjoys the right to work based on his/her strength and interest. In my dream world, no job is good or bad, it can only be right or wrong for you based on your strength, interest and the context of your life at that point of time. It was an ‘aha’ moment when I coined the word NICEFIT to represent my dream.
That’s how it started. If you wish to be an entrepreneur, you need to have a dream. Again, there is no right or wrong dream — a dream that is very personal to you and you must be honest about it (at least with yourself).
As you must have heard, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. I decided to step out of  a cushy, respectable  and high paying job in  Motorola to take that first step — perhaps the most important step I have taken. Before taking that step I had a 17 yrs long career in Motorola and I shall remain grateful to Motorola for all the learning I had while working in Motorola.
Steps 2-3-4  were easy but exciting nonetheless. We got registered as a private limited company, created a logo, got a website done. Thanks to some wisdom and experience (that comes with age), I didn’t spend any time creating business plans and business spread-sheets. Business spread-sheets are one of the most dangerous addictions an entrepreneur can have. A spread-sheet gives you unlimited freedom to project your revenue, expenses and profit. In my view, it is a total waste of time at the beginning.
To do business, you need to have just two things –a defined product/service and a specific target market. I had neither. It’s easier to follow a road than defining it. NICEFIT as a concept was very new (and even today it is new) and I was repeatedly asked — ‘what service do I provide — training or recruiting?’ The market gets used to existing products/services and often it is reluctant to accept a new one. You would need patience and faith to survive rejections of new ideas — not once but many times.
It was not even clear to me how we will make NICEFIT happen.  I thought, Training can help, Recruitment can also help but both are incomplete as a solution. So, the journey started in search of the solution and is still continuing.
If you are curious about entrepreneurship, please do remember that Entrepreneurship is not always about making money, it’s often about solving a problem or pursuing a dream.
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 Reach Susanta on:

linkedin/susantamisra

Twitter

/NICEFIT_Susanta

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 In case you’re new to this blog and are wondering what this series is about, make sure you read the introductory post and other posts written by MrinmayeeSarojini & the Postbox duo.
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Tomador de Riesgos – ‘Nikhil & Madhuvanthi’

A Tapas Bar, loud music, and drinks on the table. It was an unwinding Friday night. Amongst conversations revolving around food, architecture and music, it slowly led to us speaking about our mutual love for photography and just, in general, inspiring visuals. Tissue papers were taken out and The Postbox was written. And thus began our exciting, challenging journey.

Being artists in a digital era, the two of us realized the need for an online space that would full-fill two specific pinpoints. One, a space that focuses on ethereal original prints, which are inspired by surreal spaces and popular culture. Two, we wanted this space to promote artists and their work by helping them monetize it. Think about it, there is right now, no single unified platform, which promotes art in all its forms, gives them a space and helps them monetize it. India is a country of a billion people, that in itself is a huge opportunity just staring at us right there. We’ve been doing a lot of research around graphic artists in the country and our single biggest takeaway is that, there is definitely a need for clean platforms that promotes such collectives.

The Postbox was a well thought out and structured plan. We brainstormed for over two months on how we want this platform to exist and what we should be working on. Six different products split into two different sections defined Postbox as an Art & Lifestyle brand.

We had to move fast because we had set the aggressive goal of launching in the second week of September. Even though we ended up launching in the last week of September, our respective roles were very clear. So, while I was working on Product development, Nikhil covered the entire website construction and operations piece.

After testing out the platform and going through product iterations, we finally launched in the last week of September.

Set of coasters inspired by the tranquil Marina Beach

Set of coasters inspired by the tranquil Marina Beach

There were very hard times, and in my case, I had already committed to a Masters program in Fashion Management in Milan, which was to start in October. But Nikhil and I strongly believed that now was the time. Our country is a beautiful place to be in, people are slowly letting go and taking to what they love. We may not realize it, but there’s a silent revolution happening. And we definitely felt The Postbox should contribute to this and not sit back and watch.

It’s been two months now since I’ve moved here. Trust me, it’s most challenging to run a “long distance start up”. Living simultaneously in two different time zones, I have been asked multiple number of times how I manage my deadlines. Very simply put, it’s the belief that keeps us(I speak for Nikhil here as well) going. We have come to understand that beneath every strategy, every goal that you set, it needs to be supported by a strong sense of hope and faith. Everyday is an opportunity, we are constantly learning, our research is always an on-going process. The key is to never settle. We are still very young in this industry. But there is no law that states the pace at which we should engage ourselves in. And that is something that sets us apart from the rest. For instance, a month into launching the online store, we got our first offline space at Chennai’s most celebrated boutique- Chamiers. Our first corporate order rolled in sometime before that. We’ve had people writing to us expressing how they connect with the photographs under the Fine Art section, how the colours have livened up their living space, and how the notebooks makes them want to write again. And most recently, we had an order from Karachi, Pakistan.It is these little moments that matters the most to us. To reach out to people, to connect with them, and touch their life. The idea of Posting is an age-old concept of just this- keeping in touch with your loved ones. At the end of 45 days, when we look back, we smile knowing that stories have been created, people have managed to reconnect in the most wonderful of ways, that they now, will always have a token of memory with them.

Notebooks based on all things symmetrical

Notebooks based on all things symmetrical

The ride from thereon has been a terrific, enjoyable roller coaster one. At the end of each day, it’s just a sense of gratitude that we have for all those who cheered us on right from the beginning and continue to do so.

There were testing periods. At the earliest stage, we’ve tackled situations wherein we got cheated by one of our vendors and at the same time we had to go through two more rounds of proto-typing for our coasters. Our packaging materials gave up in the very beginning. And all this happened in direct proportion to the pace with which we were progressing. At this point, we kept orders waiting but our customers understood us. In all best intentions we delivered to them what we had promised. And our clients came back to us. To let us know that they are thrilled.As goes the line in the movie, Into The Wild, “Happiness is real only when shared”, it stands testimony to every single order we fulfill. We attach a small note in every package to let our customers know that we are there to listen, to make their experience better, to understand what they want. This is also one of the reasons why we started our blog, www.thepostboxin.tumblr.com. Being staunch supporters of Communication, Nikhil writes at regular periods to keep our followers updated on what is happening behind the stage. We put forward all the chaos, the madness that persists only because we believe in transparency. Internally, we have regular meetings scheduled over the week (yes, I have woken up at 4 am here in Milan only to cringe at the sight of the team enjoying filter coffee in Madras) to reflect, discuss and decide how we will implement the lessons learnt. It’s always about moving forward, bouncing back. I have, personally, realized the beauty of mistakes. The harder it hits you down, the higher you rise above. Our advisory team has always spoken to us about Cricket matches. That it’s not just about playing a great T-20 but also giving your best shot at that test match.

Putting some fun on your walls

Place some fun on your walls

Today, The Postbox is not just a collective of designers and artists but people coming together to appreciate and acknowledge the skills of these insanely talented people. Our vision comes to life here.
It’s been a great ride so far, we’ve had close to 7000 hits on our website already and along the way we’ve learnt more than we ever could. I think for us, we’ve realized no matter what happens, you just have to keep at it. Your moment will come and you have to have faith that it will. And along the way, it always helps to have some fun. 😉

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Reach The Postbox, Nikhil & Madhu on:


 In case you’re new to this blog and are wondering what this series is about, make sure you read the introductory post and the last two posts written by Mrinmayee & Sarojini.