Identify a good idea, fall in love with it and go after it. Only then would the journey be worthwhile. That’s the advice for students and aspiring young entrepreneurs from the founder of one of the world’s top start-ups- the taxi hailing app-Uber,Travis Kalanick.
Kalanick, who had come down to India for the launch of the Startup India campaign over the weekend in Delhi, shared his success story and tips for budding entrepreneurs and students of the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai Tuesday. “Find a problem that you are passionate about. We couldn’t find taxis and we did something about it. I wanted to push a button and get a ride. That is what Uber is all about. It was not meant to be this big, but I kept getting passionate about it and Uber kept growing,” he told them.
According to him,there would always be a risk and chances of failure in start-ups. “Failure is just a state of mind, it depends on what failure is to you. We have to start thinking about risks and failure differently when it comes to setting up a start up. I feel if you have failed in one company, there will be many more companies willing to hire you,” Kalanick told the crowd of 2,500 gathered at IIT’s convocation hall.
Kalanick said one needs to keep ‘jugaading’ in order to make things work out. “If you have a great idea but you are bad at communicating it, then you probably must find a co-founder who is good at it.. That’s what is a ‘jugaad’, and jugaad will get you funding,” he said during the fireside chat moderated by UTV founder, Ronnie Screwvala. The session was organised by IIT-B’s entrepreneurship cell, which will soon host its e-summit.
The start-up environment was growing rapidly in India over the last one decade and so was global funding and the future of start-ups, he said. “As we see the world going global, I believe R and D and innovation are about the three bays – Bay Area, Beijing and Bangalore.”
Kalanick also offered students and entrepreneurs his e-mail address and urged them to share their resumes. “Do write to me, and it will be great if you attach your CVs in case any of you guys want to drop out,” he said while clarifying that he himself was a dropout.
The Uber founder admitted that there is a cut throat competition for Uber in India from local startups, but that has not stopped the firm from growing. “Everywhere, we do face competition from local start-ups, here in India too. And these local start-ups make me sleep two hours lesser but that competition is what makes us work harder and grow. Last year in January, Uber recorded a growth of four per cent , this year it is 40 per cent. It is like we learn from them and they learn from us,” said Kalanick
Kalanick said that it was a major challenge to start his business in India in 2013. With no cars to rent out and few GPS-activated smartphones, Uber had a tough time in India but things have changed and Uber has grown since then.
When asked where he envisions Uber services ten years from now, Kalanick described his journey to driving a car fast when it is fogging. He said, “ It is fogging and you are driving and you can barely figure out a road only so far, you are focused. There is no way you can look back. That is how it is for Uber. We have a direction, but don’t know what it is going be tomorrow.”
Kalanick’s strategy of attracting investors and securing investments for the start-up was applauded. “It is like playing the game of chess 80 hours a week, you know the setup best and got to be six moves ahead of you investors. Investors are those who don’t know the game of chess and will still offer advice,” he said.
When asked if Uber was planning to start a helicopter service, Kalanick said, “ It will be amazing if I just push the button and within five to ten minutes I get a helicopter ride.”
Uber has also announced start-up exchange programme in partnership with Invest India, an initiative under the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP). At the end of the programme, the company intends to fly 10 start-ups to its headquarters in San Francisco, where the company will introduce them to global investors, fellow entrepreneurs and the team at Uber.