Start and they will come: How entrepreneurs can find courage to take the plunge

By Praveen Suthrum

The other day I wanted to watch a Telugu horror movie in Mumbai, but the problem was that the rest of Mumbai did not seem as interested in it as I was. When I reached the Multiplex, I figured I was their only customer. They said they might cancel the show upon which I argued that they at least have one customer and they must start the show. Others might join later.

When they did not agree I inquired how many tickets they needed to sell in order to start the show. The person at the ticket booth said a minimum of six needed to be sold to get the show running. By then there was another man waiting behind me, but I decided to buy all six tickets and get the show started.

Then I sold one ticket to the man behind me and tried convincing another Hindi-speaking gentleman to purchase a ticket, but he was only interested in a Ravi Teja (an actor) movie and this wasn’t, so he went his way. Not wanting to miss the beginning, I left the rest of the tickets at the counter. They could sell them and pay me back later.

After the movie ended, I realized all tickets were sold because the movie was already running. I watched the movie, without spending an extra penny. Because I took the step to make them start the show, it happened.

Start. And they will come.

Many wannapreneurs have starting trouble. They have great ideas, but they just simply cannot start because there is always no time, no money or it won’t make logical sense. Many do not want to lose perks and salaries of a regular corporate job, are too busy with the family or do not have the skills or experience. People generally have many, many reasons to not startup.

The little secret to starting is this. You simply

It may seem unreasonable (like buying all minimum tickets required to start the show), but then that is exactly the chance you have to take. Instead of finding reasons for not starting,
ask what will make something happen? What must you do in order to make your idea or desire come alive? You will surely get those answers and once it comes to you, do not hold back.

I have noticed time and again that once the train starts moving, many people want to join. It even becomes cool to join, unexpected help surfaces and things simply happen. It is almost as if the universe was waiting for you to start it. But, no one will get on a train that may or may not start.

That is how I started up our company, years ago as an MBA student. Instead of sitting for job interviews, I simply told everyone that I was starting a company. It was to mainly trap myself into starting since I figured that if I tell everyone about my ambition, I would be cutting down my options of not-starting.

I had no money, a big student loan and did not come from a business family. But, the word got around and my co-founders found their way to me. We had a vague – a very vague idea of what we wanted to do, but we just simply knew we wanted to build a company in healthcare.

We struggled to find investors and clients, but we eventually did all that and once the company started making money, we found more interesting things to do. We built a healthcare technology platform. Products were never part of the original idea, but we created something that keeps creating products and everything continues to grow.

If you want to startup,
start up. Make it happen by announcing to the world what you are doing. Stop worrying about sounding foolish or failing, but simply start. Recently, a conversation with SIESCOMS, a management college, resulted in an idea for a healthcare technology conference. They had space for 225 people and we had the industry perspective. But, there was no money, no speakers and not even much time at hand, but we simply started. We called it #HIT-NEXT – to imply the future of health IT.

Amazingly, people joined. The University of Alabama School of Medicine, people from medicine, artificial intelligence, medical devices, academia, Fortune 100 companies and even the Government of India, all became a part of it. We struggled, but figured everything out – payment gateways, website, registrations and other logistics. Many speakers said no, but very cool people slowly started saying yes and it snowballed.

My professor, C.K. Prahalad would often say that entrepreneurship is always about aspirations being greater than the resources. You do not start up because everything fits neatly in your life plan. You simply startup because you
want to.

Praveen Suthrum is the president and cofounder of NextServices . He writes at redo/healthcare.)