June 7, 1999
YEH HAI INDIA!
Learning From A Pro
Arthur J Pais in San Jose
Excerpts from Hemant Kanakia's session at the IIT alumni meeting in San Jose.
Take your best shot at everything you do....
Always try to get a group of venture capitalists who are right for you. They should be able to provide you with contacts and the checks and balances needed in managing the growth of the company. Make sure you have the right chemistry with them and that they compliment the strengths of the company.
It is like an arranged marriage.
Have great people in your company. Spend a lot of time hiring the right people. I spent 50 per cent of my time in the first 18 months in hiring people. Ericsson in the final analysis bought Torrent Networks for its people.
Remember to position your company and its products to differentiate yourself from your competitors who will try to stereotype you. Many competitors (nine in the case of Torrent) will also claim they do what you do. Maneuver to force their hands to show what they really have. Torrent did this
by opening their architecture.
A lot of what you do is not all technology related. Be aware of marketing and sales tactics and strategies.
Time to market was critical.... no time for building a prototype. Believe in your technology and then hire the best people to build it.
There is no one way of climbing a tree as long as you know that you are headed to the top.
Filing for patents is more a defensive move....
If market research can discover the product the market needs, then you are probably already too late to capture market share for the product....
Let fairness be your guide when you distribute equity among employees..... Do not do it either for fear or greed. Each employee should have enough of a stake to want to wake up and make a success of the company.
It is not essential to have knowledge in all areas to start a company. Hire top-notch people who have done it well before.
Learn to fire people and cut your losses before they damage the morale of the rest of your team.
Hire people who are constructive in their attitude. It takes two to three weeks to figure out whether the new hire is working out. The question is how long would it take for you to admit that you made a mistake in hiring and are willing to cut your losses.
If your exit strategy is to sell the company then make sure you are in the face of all your potential acquirers as much as you can.
IIT prepared me to take risks. It's like taking a tough exam. You prepare well, give the exam and if you fail to do well you just learn from the experience knowing well that there will be another exam another day.
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