Srikant Sastri, Chairman, I3G Advisory Network; President TiE Delhi / NCR

Srikant Sastri, Chairman, I3G Advisory Network; President TiE Delhi / NCR

Srikant Sastry is the chairman of the i3g Advisory Network. He is also the President of TiE, Delhi NCR. The seasoned entrepreneur has started and exited two successful businesses. Tune in to listen to his inspiring story.

 

Podcast

Overview

As the world around us changed with COVID, there were the frontline heroes who worked relentlessly to keep us also safe. There also are people who helped these frontline workers in executing their roles.

As the health infrastructure of our country was racing against time to improve, the seasoned entrepreneur Srikant Sastri along with scientist Amitaba Bandyopadhy came up with a model to make ventilators for India in just 90 days.

The seasoned entrepreneur takes us through some important lessons of starting and running a startup business. Dive in to get the enlightening knowledge.

About Srikant Sastry

Srikant Sastry is the chairman of the i3g Advisory Network. He is also the President of TiE, Delhi NCR. The seasoned entrepreneur has started and exited two successful businesses. Tune in to listen to his inspiring story.

DISCUSSION

Srikant narrates his entrepreneurial journey, which started in 1995. He recalls putting everything he had at risk for the business, which also led him close to bankruptcy after three years.

As he managed to pull back the business on track, he decided around 2003-04 to exit by selling it to the global market. He admits, “As a first-generation entrepreneur, I wanted security for the family, as there was no fallback option.”

Mr. Sastri followed the same path of a successful exit to a Dutch group with his second business.

He talks of the various ventures he went on to contribute to before he started the i3g Advisory Network, primarily to satiate his creative needs. He says, “The i3g is a one-person outfit. It is a portfolio that I ensure I churn all the time I enjoy. Occasionally get people for networking projects, essentially my portfolio, my time, my fun.”

Srikant talks about the ventilators he built in just 90 days, as opposed to 18-24 months that the Western world takes. He mostly helps startups in their growth phases.

TiE (The IndUS Entrepreneurs)

The IndUS Entrepreneurs is a Silicon Valley non-profit organization supporting start-ups. Srikant talks about the transformation that TiE is going through. With information available on the Internet widely, the organization now focuses on getting the right mentor to the young entrepreneurs in specialized domains.

He says, “Being an entrepreneur is a lonely journey. How do you hang out with people who understand your pain, can empathize but guide you without any vested interest? People at TIE are giving back to younger entrepreneurs.”

He shares the details of the structure of the organization:

  • Chartered Members: experienced entrepreneurs
  • Regular Members: Join with a token fee and get access to all the help

Thoughts on Startups

We discuss multiple questions that are often in our minds about starting a business. Srikant favors starting it with the team of co-founders than going alone. He says, “No one is superhuman to have every skill.”

He cites two primary reasons:

  • Investors hesitate to invest in solo business: if something unfortunate happens or the person dies.
  • Co-Founders bring in the complementing skills. Not same skillset people.

Srikant also gives thought-provoking tips to the young entrepreneurs:

  • Need to identify an important problem that is large enough
  • Have deep passion and expertise to sort it
  • Resilience: the ability to persist in the face of daunting failures
  • Ability to tolerate ambiguity

He also talks of the three key reasons for the failures of a startup:

  • Not finding the right speed: going either too slow or too fast
  • Running out of money
  • Fighting amongst partners

Srikant also delves into the subject of bootstrapping vs. raising funds. He says, “Demonstrate skill in-game by showing investors by putting some of your savings and money. Then ask friends and family. When you only raise it soon, you own a minuscule share of the money.”

He cites a successful example of a cosmetic brand, Nykaa, that owns 53% of the business.

More About Srikant

Mr. Sastri also shares his tips on when to scale the business. He says, “A wise man once told me, you achieve a product-market fit when you are no longer thrusting your product or service down a customer’s throat.” Once the entrepreneur realizes that, he can scale up the business.

He also shares the three key milestones of his life: going to IIT as a vernacular person and how the institute transformed him, starting a business and reaching close to bankruptcy, and lastly, starting i3g to have his creative fun.

He ends the conversation by advising the younger thinkers to find a big, real problem to solve, instead of following short-term cool trends.

Profile

Mr. Srikant Sastri is a seasoned entrepreneur who has built and exited two successful ventures that have 2000+ employees and 15,000+ employees respectively. He co-founded Crayon Data, the ambitious Singapore & India-based AI start-up, and started the ‘चलो StartUp’ initiative. Through 10 web episodes, based on stories of real startups, he is distilling 10 key lessons for would-be entrepreneurs.

As an active Charter Member of TiE Delhi and Indian Angel Network, Mr. Sastri actively supports several incubators across India. He mentors several companies like LawRato (legal tech), Nyoooz (vernacular digital content), Admizzionz Campuz (education), SkillsHaat (skilling marketplace) & Khelfie (sports tech) that create India-centric impact. After an engineering degree from IIT Kanpur and an MBA from IIM Calcutta, Mr. Sastri worked at Unilever India and McCann Erickson.

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