Real-life lessons from entrepreneurs – Part 1 from Arun Athiappan of

I have been entrepreneur for 2 years and so far I have enjoyed the journey. Since I have started the company on my own, sometimes I feel a little lonely and often turn to family, friends and other wise men for advice on how to deal with some of the challenges of building a startup. One of the things that I have been thinking of recently is to interview successful entrepreneurs to learn some key lessons that they have learnt in their journey so that I can avoid that mistake. I have been planning to meet a very successful and very inspiring entrepreneur but it has not happened yet.

But I stumbled upon this speech that Arun, the co-founder and CEO of, gave at IIT-Chennai.

The speech was quite ordinary but I have found some great lessons in that speech. Hence, I forwarded a link to the video to my entire team at BIsquared Consulting. Then I thought ‘Why not share it with the readers of my blog?’.

Here are the key takeaways for me from this speech:

1. Engineer-turned-entrepreneurs are very poor at managing cash. I am very much like Arun, never treating money as a rare commodity which does not come by easily. Abundance was my mindset and to a large extent, it worked throughout my professional life and suddenly everything changed in a few months after I started my company.

But you don’t learn big lesssons easily in life. And definitely not by reading a book or watching a video. I learnt the importance of managing cash by making multiple mistakes which came back to haunt me. I hope that I am more careful with managing cash now 🙂 – this is a great lesson for any entrepreneur who is lured with the option of borrowing or getting equity money from others to bootstrap a business.

2. You have to focus on one thing – I got this right from the beginning in my entrepreneurial journey. Not because I was a great at focusing on one thing at a time. But because I have tried to do too many things in too many different roles/industries before starting my entrepreneurial journey, I have learnt that the key to success is focus. I often tell my colleagues/partners who propose exciting new ideas/markets: “I am keeping my monkey tightly strapped; why do you want to give my monkey an easy escape?”. I read about “Shiny object syndrome” a few weeks and it applied to me a lot and to a lot of entrepreneurs in general. So, it was another great lesson.

3. Arun talked about the importance of location. I am not sure whether I got this one right or not. The reason for me to incorporate in Geneva, Swiss was to work with NGOs a lot but now that I have set up an office in India as well serving customers around the world, I am not really sure whether I have gotten this right.

If you are an entrepreneur or planning a venture sometime or if you are in a startup, please watch the speech – you might find some relevant lessons for you there. If you find the video useful, please let me know through comments.

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