The shortest distance between two points may be a straight line, but when it comes to entrepreneurial success, straight lines rarely exist. Instead, the paths taken by most successful entrepreneurs are meandering, if we’re applying the benefit of hindsight. If we don’t, well, they’re often random, confusing and even frustrating.
Take Srikanth Iyer, the co-founder and CEO of Home Lane, one of the market leaders in the online home interiors space today. But wind the clock back on Iyer’s entrepreneurial journey and we see him doing terribly in class 12, but getting into a good college because he was a state-level table tennis player.
He gets into Wipro after finishing his degree, but quits in just 3 months to…assemble and sell PCs. When that business naturally gets commoditized, he shuts it down and starts an edtech business way before it was cool to do so. Unfortunately, not enough Indians have PCs or broadband to buy his “CD-ROMs” (a concept as alien today as rotary telephones). So he hitched his wagon with PC makers, book publishers and even soap brands! He would end up selling the same business thrice over.
By the time he started Homelane in 2014, Iyer already had over two decades of entrepreneurial experience, though none of it was in home interiors. His first year was chaos. His first NPS score was -27. He almost went into depression.
The popular view of enterprise is that you succeed by doing more things. Iyer offers a well-argued (and well-experienced) countertake to that. Sometimes it’s best to say no to things or to focus on understanding what you’re bad at.
“I’m a better wartime general,” says Iyer to me during an honest, candid and insightful conversation that spans his three decade career as an entrepreneur.
If you’d rather (or perhaps also) read than listen, we have also published the full transcript for this interview below.
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Full Episode Transcript:
Srikanth, you graduated with an engineering degree in 1992 and got your first job at Wipro if I’m not mistaken and you lasted all of five months in that job.
So, first of all my claim to fame is that I did my engineering degree along with Mr.