January 11, 2009

Book Review : Entrepreneur Journeys [Part-I]

With the new year starting off on a good note, I had the fortune to read Entrepreneur, Blogger & Forbes columnist Sramana Mitra's book Entrepreneur Journeys.Though, I am a voracious reader;this article would be the start of a new innings - my very first book review smile

Anyone who is interested in startups would definitely be a reader of her blog but after reading this book, I feel it is a great boon to the existing as well as aspiring Entrepreneurial community !!! The book touches the various aspects of startups namely Bootstrapping, Venture Funding, Business Models, Ups & Downs in the life of an Entrepreneur etc. using a simple medium of Q&A. She also focuses on how Internet has changed the entire game of Business & why Web 3.0 is the next big thing.

Though these simple words describe the simplicity & depth of the book, I would like to couple it with some of the notable excerpts:

Jerry Rawls, Co-founder - Finisar
  • We did not have any outside investors, so it was clear that we did not have enough money to support both of us. So, I stayed at Raychem and Frank Levinson went off and got started. At the end of the year I left Raychem and joined him fulltime in Finisar.
  • While we were doing product development we supported ourselves, probably for four years doing mostly consulting work.
  • I heard a guy a few years ago give a talk and somehow in the talk, he threw a line "Culture eats strategy for breakfast" & I completely agree with that.
  • We have a culture where we accept nothing, there are no sacred cows.We want to continually improve every part of our operation.We have a culture that says we are going to hire bright people who have good interpersonal skills and can really handle pressure & work well in small groups.
  • Because it is a company policy that everybody travels Economy, I myself also travel economy.
Sridhar Vembu, Founder of Adventnet
  • We at Adventnet hire young professionals whom others disregard.We don't look at colleges,degrees or grades.Not everyone in India comes from a socio-economic background to get the opportunity to go to a top engineering school, but many are really smart.We train them and in nine months, they produce results at the level of college grads.Their resumes are not marketable but these kids can code just as well as the rest, sometimes even better !!!
  • We found we could reach customers directly.Today we have most of the new customers through the internet.It has become much easier to supply companies directly.The internet is allowing us to reach all these customers.
  • I am not ashamed to compete on price, that is our main strategy.
  • Keep the marketing costs low, that is our strategy.If we do the SalesForce economics, 75% of their revenue is spent on acquiring customers.There should be a better way of doing business than charging the customer for acquiring him.Why not give it away for free,if all the money will be spent on acquiring the money elsewhere.
  • Most attrition happens from boredom related issues.We try to keep our team motivated and challenged with interesting work, and as a result, they don't leave.
Steve Hafner, Co-Founder - Kayak
  • On working at Orbitz: I saw a company start from a few PowerPoint pages and grow to the point that when I left it was booking $4 billion a year in tickets and hotel rooms.
  • Kayak helps users find deals from all of the other travel websites.We thought by doing a bit what Google does, which is build a very simple and sleek interface which goes out and searches on behalf of consumers & brings back the results in a comprehensive display, we would give consumers a choice of where to buy.
  • In the first year or two of Kayak, we focussed on building a great product.We felt if we build a great product, consumers would stumble on it, like it and tell their friends.
  • We are of the mentality that for every dollar which could be placed into marketing, we would rather place it into engineering and make the product better.We spend next to nothing on marketing.
  • On the internet, there is always going to be a lot of competition because it is easy to build a website.The hard part is to make the website scale.
  • There are three things you need to do to have a viable Vertical Ad network.You need to get a set of publishers, you need to get an audience and you need to match them with technology.
Gautam Godhwani, Co-Founder - SimplyHired
  • What we saw in the employment space was an incredibly large market.There is a market of $100 billion market in US alone.At the same time,the market had services that we called pain killers versus vitamins.If you needed a job,you really needed a job.If you had to hire someone,you really needed to hire someone.
  • From the beginning, I have believed the value of a vertical player, search engine or otherwise, is able to participate in a greater lifecycle of the user.
I hope you enjoyed reading the review cum insights of the book Entrepreneur Journeys.There are many more exciting lessons from the other Entrepreneurs featured in the book which would be unveiled in the Part-II of the review...till then, keep breathing the fresh air of Startups smile

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At Jan 14, 2009, 11:02:00 PM , Anonymous Chandra said...

I am looking forward for your upcoming book reviews! good luck...

At Jan 15, 2009, 9:47:00 AM , OpenID thoughtsprevail said...

Great to see your comment after a long long time :) If you are somewhere in Hyderabad, I can even give you this book; it is a great book.

Would post the Part-II of the review today.

-Himanshu Sheth

At Jan 19, 2009, 11:02:00 AM , Anonymous Vineesh said...

Hey Himanshu

Nice book review.

Is something wrong with the Email subcriptions? I didn't get the last two articles.

Looking forward to your further posts! :)


At Jan 20, 2009, 9:38:00 AM , OpenID thoughtsprevail said...

Thanks for the comment.Yes, I think so;I need to check it out.Even when I checked my Google Reader, I could not find my new articles...Thanks for pointing it out.

-Himanshu Sheth


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