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‘Entrepreneurship is something that you practise for acquiring the necessary attitude and skills’

At the ‘Ignite’ startup mentorship programme for budding entrepreneurs, Mr Aditya Berlia shared tips on how to cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset

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Mr Aditya Berlia, Co-founder and Pro-chancellor, Apeejay Stya University and Co-promoter, Apeejay Stya and Svran Group, was among the esteemed panellists who spoke at a startup mentorship programme titled ‘Igniting Innovations: Connecting the Indian and Bhutanese Startup Ecosystems.’ The session was conducted by the Embassy of India, Thimpu, in collaboration with the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, Invest India, Startup India, and knowledge partner The IndUS Entrepreneurs (TiE) Delhi-NCR, a global entrepreneurship organisation.

Among the other panellists who came together to inspire young and budding Bhutanese entrepreneurs were Mr Raman Roy, Chairman and Managing Director of Quatrro, Dr Tshering Cigay Dorji, CEO of Thimpu TechPark Ltd, and Mr Rikesh Gurung, Managing Director and CEO, of The Green Road.

‘Test the market early’

Sharing his learnings and insightful tips, Mr Berlia said, “First, please don’t believe in the PR of successful entrepreneurs. This is a hard and terrible journey, with lots of failures and difficult decisions. But the rewards are fantastic. Second, nobody succeeded in entrepreneurship without help—from mentors, customers to stakeholders, employees, or family, there was always someone who believed in them. I would also urge entrepreneurs to ask for help; never feel that you have to deal with everything alone. Third, it is very important to observe the market. Contrary to popular belief, not just Bhutan, even India has a small, tiered market. The cost of failing is cheaper as compared to elsewhere in the world. While solving local problems is fantastic, if you are thinking of going large scale, look at what resources you have.

“From my journey, I have learned that it is very important to test the market early. Market is king. Do not get too passionate about the solution but focus on the problem first, which is also something that I have learned during the course of my journey. At the end of the day, if you are only passionate about technology and money, it will only take you so far. A real entrepreneur needs to find an actual unique problem and try to look for an appropriate technology to address it.”

‘Entrepreneurship is a matter of self-belief’

Mr Roy, who is also deemed the pioneer of the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry, shared how he had failed to convince people at the beginning of his entrepreneurial journey but what kept him going was self-belief. “When I started out, a lot of people including my bosses told me it was the most bizarre idea they had ever heard of. I was told, ‘Till now, you had a great career.’ But it is a matter of self-belief. I believed that I could demonstrate the capability of the Indian workforce on the global platform. Did I succeed in everything I tried? No. You try, you fail. You have to keep trying.”

He advised, “At the end of the day, the only person who determines the success of what you are doing is the customer. Nobody else matters. If the customer is willing to pay money for buying your goods and services and you can make a profit, you are on to something successful. However, when you look at customer feedback, understand that not everything comes out in surveys. Either the customer tells you that he or she can buy, or you believe that you can change the habits of the customer.”

How to build an entrepreneurial mindset

Mr Berlia further stressed the importance of building an entrepreneurial mindset, which can be worked upon through day-to-day activities. Among the prominent characteristics that comprise an entrepreneurial mind are “high determination, the ability to think beyond standard and straight lines, having an incredible amount of confidence, ability to convince people”, among others, he said.

So, how does one attain these abilities? Mr Berlia stated, “Entrepreneurship is something that you practise for acquiring the necessary skills. In every entrepreneurship, the first step is to sell. Get that experience by trying to sell products in your community. That is a great way to open your mind—you will hear more ‘noes’ than ‘yes’ but the experience is important for you to overcome the fear of being rejected.”

He also advised the budding entrepreneurs to practise solving problems. “Find problems that you see in your school, family, and society, look at their former solutions, and see if they can be solved in a better way. The idea is to combine the entrepreneurial attitude with the required skills…Every year, I learn to be a better entrepreneur. It is constant learning.”

Dr Dorji, who is at the helm of the first IT park in Bhutan, added, “It is really important to believe in yourself. My association with TechPark, in the beginning, was fraught with a lot of problems. But I believed that there was potential in IT and promoted entrepreneurship which kept me going.”

Mr Gurung, who has been building eco-friendly and durable roads using waste plastic, a first-of-its-kind in Bhutan, also shared his inspiring journey, from how the technology originated under his mentor in India to finally founding his company. He added, “In Bhutan, entrepreneurship is still at its nascent stage. It is considered the last resort…Entrepreneurship should be a career choice, not someone’s last option. Startup success can be engineered which means it can be learned and taught…My mentor told me to use technology in a way that it benefits the community and not merely worry about profit and I have been following his path.”

Disha Roy Choudhury is a Principal Correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. She has worked as a journalist at different media organisations. She is also passionate about music and has participated in reality shows.

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