My name is Vikrama Dhiman. I lead Mobility Products @ Gojek. Previously, I led product teams at Bharti SoftBank (Airtel Money, myAirtel, Wynk), Directi (BigRock), Zeta (Corporate Benefits and Gifting), WizIQ (eLearning) and MakeMyTrip (Travel/ Hotels). I was an Agile Coach with Cisco, Yodlee, Sapient, HP & Classmates.com. I am an avid reader.
Lessons from Deep Kalra on Enterpreneurship and How to Startup
Deep Kalra is an Indian businessman who is the founder and group CEO of MakeMyTrip, an Indian online travel company. He is one of the most recognised Business Leaders in Indian Startup and Technology ecosystem.
I discovered How to Start a Startup from IIM Ahmedabad recently. I watched almost all of it - all the sessions are excellent but my favorite session was from Deep Kalra. I have heard Deep Kalra speak multiple times but perhaps, being at his alma mater brought out something more candid and even very vulnerable. Top lessons are below:
- For this talk at IIM Ahmedabad, Deep Kalra got in early. He visited 15-20 hotels. Exec summary is dangerous. Insights come from first hand real customers. At MakeMyTrip, all seniors go visit customers once a day. He files his report when he does so.
- How did we decide on the name MakeMyTrip? 5 of us went to busiest markets in Delhi. We asked customers outside 'Which name looks good on a card'? Travel Raja, Travel play, TakeYourTrip. Overwhelming favorite was MakeMyTrip. Don't delegate market research.
- PITA (Pain in the Ass) is the most valuable player. They will ask tough questions & get under your skin. One of these folks said to me in 2005 or 2006 that my idea to launch in Australia after US was dumb, and we should launch in India. He was right. I apologised publicly and said I was wrong.
- The more you focus on the exit, the further it will go away. You start focusing on the wrong things. The goal of a company is to solve a customer problem. We are 6 on 10. If we can do it like an Apple or an Amazon or an Indigo or a Haldiram.
- There is no shortcut to be an enterpreneur. When you look back after 10 years, the days of the struggle are the best ones. Mine is 2001-2003 when we worked out of Okhla next to Soap factory of Wipro. We had nothing but those were the best days for me.
- There is a fine line between persevarance and determination. Irony is you will know what it was only later.
- We decided that we will only have 'sell discussions' only at the start of the month and then we won't have the discussion through the month. Either we are in or we are not for the whole month. This silly ritual kept us going through a full year.
- Zero Memory. I learned about this from Hina Sidhu. If you make a bad shot, you must forget it while making the next shot. You get out of bad form by giving your next one your complete undiluted unhinged effort.
- The left side of the brain has to be data - hard numbers. You have to know it in your sleep how long you have the money to burn. All the linear decisions are taken on the fact. All exponential decisions are based on the gut.
Interested? Checkout the talk below:
Personal footnote: I had good fortunte to work with MakeMyTrip between 2013-2014. Once during a large group discussion, Deep Kalra walked and introduced himself. I was nervous as hell. I always admired how well MakeMyTrip was structured. It is an incredibly data driven organization and it changed even after IPO multiple times. He inspires not only every employee at MakeMyTrip but also the travel sector and Indian tech ecosystem as well.