Fireside Chat with Sanjeev Bikhchandani of Naukri.com — #TiECon Lahore

“Waqas don’t lose money on sales. E-commerce is more about commerce and less about ‘E’ thing.”

This is the first thing I learned yesterday from Sanjeev Bikhchandani, while he handed over me his business card. He is founder of naukri.com a company he founded in March 1997, now he serves as the founder and executive vice chairman of InfoEdge India, a traded Internet company valued at $700 Million.

I and Sidra, were especially interested in his story of building a company from scratch. And we learned quite a lot.

Today he was talking to young (& some old) entrepreneurs, at an event by TiECon Lahore. This was actually a conversation between Sanjeev and Monis Rehaman (CEO of Rozee.pk). The conversation was very interesting and thoughtful, that is what you expect when two leaders of recruitment portal sit together. Sanjeev shares his experiences and lessons to entrepreneurs distilled from his experience of building naukri.com and other startups where he advises and invest.

See the points below, I am just putting them in bullets:

  • The best way to build a company is: find an unsolved problem and build a business around it. That is the best way.
  • Don’t start startup just for the sake of big valuations to raise maximum funding. It’ll lead you to nothing, instead focus on building a pure business first.
  • Great companies are built out of competitions.
  • For the first 6 months of naukri.com I hadn’t any computer. I was doing a job at 5k and a computer was priced at 100k those days, so I was using this computer of my friend. And he would let me use it from 10pm till 4am.
  • I was fortunate to have customer insight of the business I was starting, so it was a big advantage at then. If you get to have a customer insight, then you don’t have to spend lot of time and energy on market research.
  • Avail the opportunity to max. Example: I had data of the HR managers of 100s of companies, so we built a mailing list and started writing them why naukri.com is right channel for them. It worked!
  • Know the value of money, spend it wisely in business. We rejected an investor who was encouraging us to spend all his investment in advertising, and that too within 6 months. So we instead, found out someone who had approach like us and accepted their investment.
  • I learned how hard it was to raise the revenue through Internet, in early days.
  • When the company was expending, we hired really good guys. Things didn’t end there, I accept the reality that I shouldn’t be the only one to make all decision, as I was doing for past few years. We gave this new talent the decision power and supported within company. This all lead to progress.
  • I approached to a guy who could build a software for us, it was his first time to make such a software to integrate with our site, and I had no money to pay him. So instead of spending time on raising money, I shared equity with him. It worked very well.
  •  I was approaching to the right kind of people at right time. Like, when I needed a programmer: I did not go for any big name or someone working at large company. They wouldn’t work for me at that time, so I went to people who were working from home office. They did the job.
  • Along side, I am engaged in building a first of its kind university in India, which is focused on Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and it offers students a 4 year baccalaureate program and lets students choose their final subjects after two years of study.
  • Entrepreneur is about making choices and then working hard to make your dreams come true, if I would been doing the first job I did. I couldn’t afford the kind of education for my daughter, what I’m providing now.
  • I make milestones for myself. In 5 years, I’ll be at that stage of business and life, and in next 5 I’ll be somewhere better, and so on. That’s how I see it all.

Wow! Thank you Sanjeev and Monis, that was quite a learning + inspiring session. Fellow participants, if I missed anything, please include that in comments below.

Personal Note for my blog readers: This post might come as a surprise. I’m doing fine and HOMETOWN is making remarkable achievements. I’ll be making my remarks later this week. 🙂 Thank you.

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