At Venture Intelligence, we recently had a great experience interviewing Hemu Ramaiah, founder of the Landmark bookstore chain (in which the Tatas acquired a majority stake in 2005). For me, the interview (which is part our Entrepreneur Podcast series “Entrevista”) served as a confirmation that a customer facing role is the best start to an entrepreneurial career.
Other key takeaways from the podcast:
* â€œMake Your Own Mistakesâ€
o Trust Your Gut (based on your understanding of customer needs)
o â€œDonâ€™t let Accountants take over your businessâ€
o Examples: Deciding to get software designed by a start-up firm (which made the effort to understand her requirements better), deciding not to charge extra for courier delivery for Internet orders, deciding to buy (rather than rent) space for the stores, etc.
* Importance of Growing the Market vs. worrying overly about competition
o Amazing story of how she decides overnight to start supplying books to her competitors (in order to boost volumes for the import orders)
* Choice between Private Equity and Strategic Investors
* Planning the Personal Exit
o Because â€œbusiness is a treadmillâ€ and â€œlife shouldnâ€™t pass you byâ€
o Basing the decision on an age cut-off (rather than some target corpus)
* Converting Problems into Opportunities
o When she learns that her daughterâ€™s schoolmate has never visited a bookshop, Hemu decides to turn the problem (of parents not exposing their children to books), by â€œtaking the bookstore to the schoolâ€.
You can download the full podcast from the Entrevista blog at http://www.entrevista.in