It takes a certain knack, brilliance and keen observation to be able to understand which companies would prosper and which would perish given proper funding and guidance.Not to mention a certain affability and the ability to convince the founders of start-ups that months or in most cases years of their hard work is in good hands.
It was a matter of great pride when Krishna “Kittu” Kolluri conducted a guest lecture in our campus in the late afternoon of the 5th of February. Mr. Kolluri left many dew-eyed undergrads star-struck with his insight into start-ups,what he thinks of post-graduate studies and his general outlook on life.
While he shared his journey from his choice in job to his subsequent change in field of interest and further his entry into the venture capitalism we slowly understood that the decisions we make in the coming few years could drastically alter where we end up in life.
One of the clichés he was vehemently against was “Follow your passion”.You do not follow your passion when you don’t know what it is.Work long enough on something and it becomes your passion.Such a pragmatic view on life is what we need to be able to get a sense of reality.
It is not often that we come across a person who reaches the pinnacles of success and yet remembers his struggle during his student years or is willing to take time out of his busy schedule to advise and guide students and help them make the right decisions in life.So taking this opportunity we thought it was only prudent that we ask him some questions that about start-ups,books and life.
Q.)You are focused on diverse fields from advertising to enterprise computing and even clean energy.How do you keep up with it all and manage your time efficiently?
Krishna Kolluri: It is a challenge .Time is always short, but you make time for what you love.Disruptive technology meets disruptive business models with a data component attached to it. Metromile one of the companies I’m working with is doing amazing things for the insurance industry.
Q.)How does one find a mentor, get them to invest in your goals, and convince them to take you under their wing?
Krishna Kolluri: Just approach them and ask them if they would be willing to serve as your mentor.You’ll be surprised as to how many people are willing to give and share what they know.
Q.)How long should an entrepreneur typically stick to his/her idea in the face of adversity before calling it quits?
Krishna Kolluri: Man proposes and God disposes. If you’ve tried everything possible and you still haven’t achieved what you set out to do then you must understand that timing plays a very important role in the success of an idea.Let me give you a few examples of where timing worked. Nobody wanted to invest in AirBnB. But what was very interesting was that the situation changed when the financial crisis happened. A lot of people lost their jobs and they were more amenable to renting out a portion of their homes.You must understand what is/isn’t working. Take for instance the online classes on Teleuniv that KMIT is conducting. A few years back that wouldn’t have been possible because bandwidth just wasn’t there. Bandwidth was a few kilobits per sec. Today it’s like a megabit per sec (Mbps) or two Mbps. So,don’t be hard on yourself if it doesn’t work out because maybe it’s not the right time for your idea.
Q.)How do you identify whether its the right time for your idea?How to understand the trends in the market?
Krishna Kolluri: You need to read a lot.Warren Buffet reads a thousand pages per day.A thousand pages not of someone’s opinion but of fact.The internet as we have it today is like a barrage of disparate information.So you’re snacking on a lot of information without really giving yourself time to digest facts or even stick to one subject.
Q.)What qualities in an entrepreneur make him/her a safer bet?
Krishna Kolluri: Emotional Intelligence. I look for those who are off-the-charts on E.Q. (Emotional Quotient).
What you don’t realise is an organization is made up of people and understanding them and their mindset is very important to the success of the company.
Q.)Which book has had a profound impact on your life and greatly influenced the way you think?
Krishna Kolluri: “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” is a book that made me realise about how we go through phases in our life where initially at a younger age we mostly think about ourselves but that isn’t enough because you need people to be successful and so you need to think not only about yourself but how you can help others.This realisation is superficial at first but as time passes you slowly understand what it means.You need to understand that what you do can have a profound impact on others.You start a company and you are essentially creating new jobs in the market and helping the economy.It’s hard to be that altruistic right away,but you need keep that at the back of your mind and really think about it.
Q.)What according to you would be more ideal – facing difficulties and failures earlier when the stakes are less or later on when you are more equipped to deal with the situation.
Krishna Kolluri: It’s a hypothetical situation because you really don’t get this choice in real life.You cannot gain experience without learning from your mistakes.The downside of failing earlier in life is a lot less than the downside of failing later in life. You’ve got more responsibility piled upon you later in life so your failure affects others too.
The college waits eagerly for his next guest lecture that will give us more insight into the world of start-ups and realised dreams.