TVS Capital’s Founders Day celebration – honouring the spirit of entrepreneurship

With several prominent founders and CEOs stepping out of their work and family lives to take part and share their entrepreneurial highs and lows with distinguished and elite guests and entrepreneurs, TVS Capital’s Founders’ Day celebrations witnessed a rousing start.

The event drew a diverse crowd of seasoned entrepreneurs including Ms Falguni Nayar, the founder of Nykaa, recently listed on the exchanges. TVS Capital was its early private-equity partner. Over 50 joined in person. Many more live streamed the event that also saw two sets of young entrepreneurs showcase their new and promising business ventures. 

Distinguished guests, Mr R G Chandramogan, founder, Hatsun Group; Mr Ananth Narayanan, Founder and CEO, Mensa Brands; Mr Yogesh Mahansaria, Founder, Alliance Tire Group; and Mr Gopal Srinivasan, founder and managing director of TVS Capital Funds participated in the traditional lighting of the lamp. 

In his welcome address Mr Gopal Srinivasan expressed delight that TVS was celebrating Founders Day with many exceptional entrepreneurs present. Many entrepreneurs are also investors in TVS Capital’s marquee funds, Mr Srinivasan highlighted. In many ways, the venture funds are also India’s Entrepreneurs Fund since several investors are entrepreneurs and members from business families. Welcoming the guests, Mr Srinivasan said, “India is blessed to have many, many founders and we are very fortunate and privileged to be able to associate with so many of them.”

Mr Gaurav Sekhri, Principal, shared some of his thoughts on working with great founders. He noted that one of the key attributes of great founders is an insurgent mission, where the founder is at loggerheads with industry standards, thus generating tremendous energy and focus. Second, an owner’s mindset is key to an inversion to the bureaucracy that leads to the keen desire to look at problems differently and take responsibility right away. 

Mr Alok Samtaney, Principal, pointed out that great founders need to be able to zoom in and out as situations demand. They need to be able to share the vision of the company over the next few years, while simultaneously zooming in to review performances, identify issues and be up to tackling them; in short, focusing intensively on execution. Alok also highlighted that frontline obsession and doing everything possible to be able to constantly improve and get things right is a key trait of great founders. 

In an enlightening panel discussion moderated by Ms Rashmi Bansal, panellists – Mr Ananth Narayanan and Mr Yogesh Mahansaria shared their entrepreneurial learnings. The former pointed out that one should not worry about the result, but instead should enjoy the present moment. One can also make decisions based on gut, and not always on data.

The latter noted that, in his initial days, he learnt everything by himself, and those foundation years defined him. Notably, handling adversity and turning it into an opportunity was a key attribute. He highlighted that one of the pitfalls to watch was growing the business too fast without having a stellar team to take it forward. 

Mr R Chandramogan, founder, Hatsun Agro, in his address noted that he has a team of five lakh people, including 4.5 lakh farmers and about 50,000 more directly and indirectly working for the company. He highlighted the importance of always being a change initiator. “Don’t be an adaptor or follower. Focus on investing in building brands even though it is a slow cooking process and profits take time to build up.”

He highlighted that professional education is not necessary for entrepreneurs as skills can be learnt through hard work and experience. Hatsun’s sales have grown 500x in 25 years. On navigating change, Mr Chandramogan noted that one should do things differently to adapt to changing times. “We grew our stock valuation CAGR at 37% while Buffet only grew at 19%!” ($ terms) What an achievement over 25 years!

Ms Falguni Nayar, founder, Nykaa, a former investment banker, had met many entrepreneurs in her role as MD of Kotak Mahindra Investment Bank. What she found inspiring was their early journey where they believed in their ideas despite the many naysayers, who did not believe in what the entrepreneurs were trying to communicate. However, self-belief and determination motivated them.

Mrs Nayar did not know retail, beauty and tech and most things when starting Nykaa. She noted that the challenges she faced in the early stage of entrepreneurship were the toughest when everything can, and will, go wrong.

On team building, she affirmed that, while people may not have domain expertise, they should be passionate and learn on the job, with an entrepreneurial mind-set to build something despite failure, and be solution oriented. 

Another highlight of the Founders’ Day celebrations were two young entrepreneurs who showed their eye for spotting business ideas showcased their models. Litmus Eye, founded by Ms Manasa Shetty and Mr Nikhil, is a full-stack WMS that helps companies prevent vendor over-billing and fraud. 

Another start-up, Infinite Cercle, founded by Ms Divya Shetty, presented a business that makes innovative products from plastic and textile waste. The company has built a solution for the waste-management ecosystem, which ensures waste pickup and recycling with full traceability. 

In his concluding remark, Mr Gopal Srinivasan succinctly summed up the entrepreneurial spirit in the following words: Kaam karo ustsaha se, bado mahenat se, baanto kushi se, aur kaho na kisi se

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