In retrospect, I should have probably written a few more articles before approaching my next entrepreneur, so that I could at least have a chance to impress him with a body of work. Wondering why? Read on to find out!
I came across the profile of Mr. Arunraj Rajendran on Linkedin and when I went through the description, I could instantly relate to him. He is the co-founder of a monthly magazine called ‘The Co-founder’, which interviews entrepreneurs from start-ups that have succeeded as well as those that have failed, and shares their story, along with a host of other entrepreneurship related topics. Sounds familiar, no?
But I digress – I found his profile very interesting and had a sense of what he was doing. Something I had heard over the years and even from my interview with Mr. Saxena of ALBJ ventures is that however unique your venture may be, there would be someone who has already done it, or at least tried to, sometime before. In most cases, it is advisable to connect with people in your industry, and ask them for their learning. Things which they wish someone had told them in the start. Again, I say ‘in most cases’. Obviously, you judge the situation for yourself. A few years ago, Mr. Arunraj did the same thing.
Another victim of the ‘Entrepreneurial bug’, Mr. Arunraj gave his shot at the ‘normal’ nine-to-five life for a few years, but then decided to start his first venture. He took a plunge into entrepreneurship with a venture which allowed others his age to find the best deals on pubs and parties in the vicinity. While their user feedback was positive, they weren’t able to raise investments as they faced a hard time figuring out how to scale up the operation.
By that time, Mr. Arunraj had also spent time with other entrepreneurs and decided that his next dip into entrepreneurship would be in the blogging space, where he would cover early stage start-ups that people may or may not have heard of yet.
In this course, he came across Mr. Adhish, who was also working on a similar project. A key difference between the two of them is that Adhish was based in Delhi, while Arunraj was in Bangalore. With a similar idea for the future of their company, they decided to join forces and convert their online blogs to a printed monthly magazine – and hence, ‘The Cofounder’ was born.
They pitched the idea to an investor in the UK and got the funding they needed. An interesting fact which Mr. Arunraj pointed out was that there was such a trust between these two people, solely based on telephonic conversation, that the first time they both met was when they travelled to sign the term sheet.
Their journey begun, and much to their surprise, even in this digital age, their first edition of the magazine had about 2500 copies sold in a week’s time! Things were looking good right from the start, and they have only gotten better over time.
Another useful learning from this team is how they segmented the key roles after the company was formed. Mr. Adhish would look into sales and distribution while Mr. Arunraj would handle content creation. They would look at partnering with people who would be excited to read about these entrepreneurial stories – from college graduates and corporate employees to start-up enthusiasts and founders themselves, all the way to angel investor networks. With a sniper approach to marketing, in addition to the revenue generated from sales, they also made ad revenue from start-ups and products who found their audience relevant.
It is this well-defined team structure, effective marketing, and relevant content that has brought them from 2500 copies sold in the first edition, to about 70,000 copies sold in the 8th edition.
Their story may seem very smooth, but Mr. Arunraj made it clear that it was no fairy-tale. It is not easy being in the driver’s seat of the venture. Good decisions are seldom based only on luck, and your ideas should solve real problems as well as be differentiated from the rest. I’m sure that with this mindset, the journey of the ‘Cofounder’ is an uphill one – and by ‘uphill’ I mean both challenging as well as upward.
The world is full of people with thoughts and views that can be very similar or very different than your own. Both these kind of people allow you to broaden your views, so head out there and converse, because with the sheer number of people in the world, or in this country alone, the chances of finding someone who can help you, are in your favor.
– Abhishek Kaul