Being an entrepreneur takes guts. Facing endless red tape, an ocean of uncertainty and unfathomable devotion are just a few prerequisites. In this panel, Ajit Isaac shares his story of going out on a limb with Quess; Patu Keswani describes his experience in setting up Lemon Tree Hotels; and Pramod Bhasin opens up about the rather inconspicuous beginning of Clix Capital. These are real-life stories of ‘Never say die’ entrepreneurs
N Mahalakshmi, editor, Outlook Business: A famous Woody Allen line goes, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” Entrepreneurs know this to be absolutely true. Whatever plan you make, it almost always goes flying out the window. Tell us about your plans going awry. How did you build resilience throughout your entrepreneurial journey?
Ajit Isaac, founder, Quess Corp: In 2000, I founded a company called Go4careers, a careers vertical in a horizontal called Go4i. It was built with capital from JP Morgan Chase and had a high-profile launch but, when the website went live, we found that if we searched for a doctor in Nagpur, we would get an engineer in Calcutta. The algorithm just wouldn’t work. A website with a search engine that does not work can’t make any progress in the market. So, within one month of going live, we actually turned offline and turned it into a human resource company. We found people through the physical process and did fulfillment offline. Today, we are India’s largest human resource services company. That was the first trip-up, and we learnt that we don’t always end up with what we start.
Patu Keswani, founder, Lemon Tree Hotels: I wanted to retire when I was in my mid-30s with the Tatas. I was posted to Taj and got very bored and I experienced male menopause. For men, it’s menopause of the mind — it’s called andropause and I decided to retire as quickly as I could, but I had no money. So, I met my two very close friends. Those days, single malt was very expensive for us, but we got two bottles of single malt and went away for a weekend to a forest lodge and decided that we need Rs.50 million to retire. That’s because, if invested well, we woul