About Me

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Mumbai, India
I run an IT Security consulting firm based out of India. We started off from scratch in 2001 when I was 21, and have offices in Mumbai, Bahrain, and UAE. The idea behind the blog is to share the stories of how we run the business, the deals we make, the deals that break, the heartburn, and the sheer joy.

The Ultimate Startup Guide

The Ultimate Startup Guide is an e-book that provides answers to all your questions related to starting and growing a business in India. Everything you wanted to know about entrepreneurship in India from ideation to registration to marketing to hiring. The book contains a large number of practical examples, anecdotes, interviews, and motivational material to help you get started, and to grow rapidly in a booming Indian economy. If you've got the idea, this book will help you through with the execution and realize your dreams. Here are some of the key questions you will find answered in this book:
  • When starting a business, what are the legal issues involved?
  • What form of incorporation is better suited to which type of business?
  • What tax issues are involved?
  • How do I start a business and what are the pitfalls?
  • How do I market my business in the absence of significant funding?
  • How do I get funded?
  • What are the basic accounting concepts I should be aware of?
  • What is a business plan and how should I build one?
The brief table of contents of the book is as follows:
  1. Getting started
  2. Ideation
  3. Forms of Enterprises
  4. Funding
  5. Basic Accounting and Taxation
  6. Import and Export Licensing
  7. Trademark and Patenting
  8. Rules for NRIs and Foreigners
  9. Building a Business Plan
  10. Marketing on a Shoestring
  11. Website and Branding
  12. Women Entrepreneurs
  13. Templates
To order the Ultimate Startup Guide - email me at kkmookhey@gmail.com.

Details of the book are:
Title: The Ultimate Startup Guide
Author: Kanwal Mookhey
Pages: 150
Additional: Companion CD contains numerous templates for building your business plan, calculating cashflow, preparing profit and loss, and balance sheets, preparing invoices, your resume and profile, marketing material, websites, contracts, and many other useful and motivational material.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

How to start a business in 2 lakhs

My statcounter showed that someone put that search term into Google and landed up on my site. Since I did start my business with exactly that capital (approx USD 4500) 5 years ago, I can claim to be some sort of an authority on how to start and grow a business with that low an amount. So here goes:

  1. Keep your capital expenditure low. This one is easy. You're going to end up spending upfront on some items - deposit for your office, company registration, computer equipment, etc. Well, keep these expenses the very minimum possible. In Hindi, we call it jugadbandi.
  2. Thrash around. You know when someone throws you into the deep end of the pool, you either thrash around as wildly as you can, or you drown, or someone comes and saves your sorry ass. Well, don't just sit there. Think! Where can you get the money to pay next month's rent. During our penurious days we did whatever we could to simply survive. We didn't bother about core competencies and such like. If there was a project to be done, and we could do it, we did it. One of our butt-saving projects required us to crack into an encrypted database file, and export all that data into Excel. That had little or nothing to do with information security. But what the heck. It helped paid the bills.
  3. Image doesn't matter. Hey, forget about having an office in a prime locality, or having a really good letterhead. Or laser printers. Get going with whatever's absolutely necessary for you to get the job done. You can always splurge when you've got money in the bank.
  4. Evangelize and network. You obviously cannot spend on advertising with that kind of a capital. You probably won't be able to get a professional brochure designed or printed either. And you simply won't be able to hire a marketing guy. So how do you get the word out there that you're now in business. Well don't just sit by the phone. Pick it up and start talking. Don't worry if people question your decision, or say they can't help you out. There're lots of people out there who'll want to help you along. And don't just ask them if they can give you business. Ask them if they know people who can give you business. Be persistent, but not desperate. Follow up with one phone call and one email.
  5. Be inspired. You're going to feel terribly low every now and then. That kind of money doesn't take long to run out. Read stories of other entrepreneurs. Talk to other entrepreneurs you know. If nothing works, send me an email!
  6. Pray. Really hard! Seriously, it's crazy enough starting your own business. Doing it with such less capital is really nuts. But that's what I did, and you could do it too. Unfortunately, I am an atheist, so this is advice I didn't follow. But yes, I hoped really hard that things would work out. That next month's checks wouldn't bounce.
So good luck, and soldier on!


orion said...

This is good advice. Thanks!
I am not sure if you've discussed this in any of your other posts, but do you have something to say about the apparent rigid mindset of Indian markets? I mean, in what areas, other than IT (that too, if you have a good customer base outside of India), are people willing to take risk?
Another question: has there been any improvement in terms of collaborating with educational institutions for research and new ideas? what's your take on that?

Intrepid said...

sach1tb, I think the rigid mindset isn't of the market, but rather of the entrepreneurs. The IT hype is so much now, that lots of would-be entrepreneurs are missing out on golden opportunities to start and succeed at businesses in non-IT domains. As to what areas, I would look at? I'd be looking at niche consultancy areas such as telecom, environmental control, corporate governance, etc. I'd also be looking at niche opportunities in retail, real estate, and food.

As to your second question, I feel that the collaboration between industry and academia is one of the weakest links in the entrepreneurial success saga. I've been to a couple of IIT's and have met the students working on business ideas in the much-hyped incubation cells there. Unfortunately, most of the ideas will not succeed, and that is primarily because industry is not involved. This means, the students have a weaker perception of what the market really needs. Their ideas, therefore, have a lower probability of succeeding.

Idea, Execution, Profit! said...

Startups can look at a whole lot of services that leverage IT to serve domestic market.
Yet the lure of IT dollar is so high that walking the path is ridden with doubts.
Non IT areas: Financial services.

Indeed, the Industry academia linkage is very week.

Intrepid said...

ideaxprofit, I think the industry-academia weak link is the weakest in the chain in fact. Entrepreneurship arises generally from ideation and innovation. And an academic environment that fosters neither is unlikely to produce too many entrepreneurs.

Raseel said...

Hi, This was a nice post. Especially knowing that you have actually gone throug all this and doing pretty good for yourself, is really inspring. A little confession : It was fun hearing about your struggles about daily commuting, saving up on bills etc. ( I think I picked that up from your Blog on Desicritics.org ?)
Would like to know how you actually managed to get the proverbial "break".

Also, I'd like to hear about your, or for that matter ANYONE's views on Business in the Open Source Software domain.

Intrepid said...

Raseel: Well truth be told, it's easy now to look back at those days with a smile, but when we were in the midst of it all, it was one helluva fight. The good news is that problems don't go away, a new set simply comes along, and often of greater magnitude and more serious consequence.

I might do a post on the proverbial "break", since there was one, and these were followed by others.

As to open source software as a business, I am really not sure. I wish I could tell you that it is doable, and you have MySQL as a shining example of that. Or even the Apache Software Foundation, but you'd have to find that killer app. And right now, I have no idea what that might be...

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Ruchika said...

An interesting post. My first time at your blog spot. Haven't read all your posts but the current one has sparked enough enthusiasm for me to read many more. An aspiring entrepreneur I think your work is a source of information and motivation both! Keep up the good work..

Anonymous said...

i am first timer for blogging
and an aspirirng entrepreneur
thanx a lot for everythin
i am into trading in minerals like calcined china clay ,mica and talc
my email id is sitanshubhayani@indiatimes.com

BeWell said...

HiThanks for your very informative blog. I am considering an ecommerce business and would like to sell certain products made in India internationally. In this regard I am looking for the foll. information:

1. Is the point of sale considered to be India if the e-business is based in India? If so can items marked as "For Sale only in India" be sold and shipped abroad legally? (Meaning, items will always be considered sold inside India though they will be shipped out.) Are there special export laws to be aware of?

2. I see many sites doing this - they seem to have respectable sales (based on page rank). Either they are doing this illegally or they are circumventing the law somehow. Any idea how this works?

3. How are sales taxes applied in ecommerce?

Any book you recommend for detailed info on this ?

Thanks, I appreciate your time and help.

Kush Wadhwa said...


What a juicy blog (maa kasam)? Lot of information on starting business.


Kush Wadhwa

Pranav said...

This was just awesome. Would help strugglers like me think in a big level...

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Suparna Ganguly said...

Hello Intrepid,
I am from Kolkata. I do have hands-on experiences more than a decade in admin & allied sectors.In my current job, during last couple of months my work profile is switched over from admin to business development. The field is construction related and requires at least ground level technical knowledge on civil/structural technology. My perception over target audience of this sector is very clear and I am acquiring the product knowledge fast.I am also on the brink of a big business deal.Meanwhile I have to quit this org due to unavoidable reason. I am planning to start a liaisoning firm of my own in this field. This field is highly male-dominated too.

Looking for your advice.

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