Entrepreneurship: A Promoter-CEO’s Perspectives – Mr. Amrit Basu, MD and CEO, and Mrs. Kalyani Basu, Director, Vanilla-Beans Consulting Private Ltd

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On the fourteenth of October, 2013, TAPMI played host to Mr. Amrit Basu and Mrs. Kalyani Basu, of Vanilla-Beans Consulting Pvt Ltd. Mr. Basu addressed the students of TAPMI on Entrepreneurship, but from the perspective of a Promoter-CEO. It was an interesting lecture that served to give the students a flavour of what it is like to be an entrepreneur, and more specifically what it takes to be one.

Mr. Basu started off by first making a distinction between a CEO and a promoter CEO. In his view, a CEO merely drives and implements, whereas a promoter CEO ideates as well as executes. He made it clear that his talk was targeted at those students who seek to become entrepreneurs but are unsure about the nitty-gritties of the trade.

Then, he proceeded to talk about the base reason why so many people want to be entrepreneurs. He talked about the desire for freedom, control, and the need to excel. He pointed out that the first and most important thing any entrepreneur requires is courage – the courage to give shape to your ideas and go the full distance with it, despite many failures and setbacks. At this point, he also briefly described his journey from his early days in banking and foreign exchange trading to HR Consulting, and to the more recent Management Consulting domain. He used this as an example for the need to constantly seek out new avenues – a must for any entrepreneur.

Mr. Basu now set out to describe the various skills that a student, hopeful of becoming an entrepreneur must develop and polish. The first skill he touched upon was Business Development. Here, he highlighted the need to know the market (in particular competitors and differentiating factors) and constantly look out for opportunities to tap.

The second skill that is a must for an aspiring entrepreneur, according to Mr. Basu is the skill of negotiation: the ability to strike a balance, maintain long term relationships and price competitively, with an eye on the competition. Undercut (after evaluating the market conditions), where and if possible was a mantra he suggested here to stay competitive.

Another skill he talked about was the elevator pitch. Mr. Basu urged the TAPMIans to build an elevator pitch of both the company profile, and the self (for budding entrepreneurs). The idea here is that an aspiring entrepreneur must be able to pitch his business or himself to a potential funder within sixty seconds. The key to doing this is to put provoking questions in the minds of the funder, so that he/she will extend the time and ask you more questions and give you a chance to impress further.

Finally, he also touched upon a few other key skills to be developed: Crowd-sourcing (for ideas/money), marketing and social media, technical skills in the relevant domain, etc. He also impressed upon the TAPMI students the need to know the language and the jargons of the business and Entrepreneurship world, such as OPEX, CAPEX, Mark-up, Business Plan, and Return on Investment. He highlighted the need to meet investors early and convince them, not with presentation skills (as that does not work!), but with hard facts. A potential investor needs to tangibly see the potential returns.

Now, Mr. Basu ventured to give an idea about how to build your company. He talked about the kind of policies and systems that need to be put in place, which need to be employee-friendly. The work culture, in his opinion needs to emanate a sense of the freedom to innovate and a sense of ownership.

Mr. Basu concluded by urging the aspiring entrepreneurs amongst the TAPMIans to be courageous, have the fear of missing out (as it is a key driver), and to believe in the old adage “Winners never quit, Quitters never win”.

This was an enriching session that gave the TAPMI students practical tips and ideas about the skill-sets they need to build to be the outstanding entrepreneurs of the future.

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