What matters is the passion to go that extra mile in believing what we are and what difference we can make with our capacities and capabilities
In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Manoj Sharma, founder of Kaffe Kona, shares what it takes to become an entrepreneur and how to best retain and attract talent in a start-up
How did you become an entrepreneur?
I’ve been a part of the F&B industry for the past 19 years. It’s been a rich learning experience and I’ve been opportune enough to start right from the basics and understand the pillars which hold aloft this industry. Having learnt the art of delivering milestones, there came a point when I recognized a need to fill a void when it came to affordable indulgence, which cuts across all barriers and brings people together. The recognition of this fact gave me the push to move ahead and create that experience called ‘Kaffe Kona.’
All this while, I’ve also been able to build a great team who are equally instrumental in driving the growth of the company.
What are the qualities an entrepreneur should possess in order to be successful?
I feel one should create short term goals which are aligned with the long term vision. What one requires is to have a step-by-step practical approach, but, at the same time, never lose sight of the fundamentals of setting up a brand. A successful entrepreneur is always a constant source of motivation and is willing to take risks. He also knows how to make the best possible use of the resources within his means. Lastly, but not the least, what separates him from the rest is his willingness to go that extra mile.
How does an entrepreneur attract and retain talent with no concept of employer branding at the beginning?
Being a part of the team with hands-on involvement plays an immense role in cementing the bonds of oneness with the company. It goes without saying that when you feel at one with the company, every step taken to drive the company ahead becomes a personal matter for everyone. It’s mandatory to such talent and such individuals who personally believe in not just the product but want to be a part of the vision. In Kaffe Kona, everyone works with the enthusiasm they would’ve had had it been their own company. Our company’s tag line says ‘Come Together’ and that applies to every facet of the company including the employees.
From where did you raise capital for starting your entrepreneurial venture?
I started this venture with very limited resources which were personally arranged for. There was a very high level of risk associated with creating a brand from scratch with no aid from any financial institution. But it taught me a valuable lesson of taking one step at a time.
In my opinion entrepreneurship should be encouraged as the economy is at a stage where such initiatives and innovations will only propel the country headlong into the big league. If such endeavors are supported by various the government and the financial institutions, India will soon be recognized as a nation of young budding entrepreneurs.
If young entrepreneurs are unable to generate enough funds, I would advise them to execute ideas at a micro level and then show the potential of the brand, which if marketed with a smart strategy, can attract sufficient funds to take it to the next level.
How does one keep the spirit going during a downturn?
The highs and lows are inevitable in any industry. But what matters is the passion to go that extra mile in believing what we are and what difference we can make with our capacities and capabilities. I truly believe that a low phase is an opportunity in disguise to identify the gaps and to fine-tune our basics without compromising on the existing quality and experienced delivered. Motivation is a key factor to combat the lean phase and sustain passion and optimism. Every business goes through such a cycle and eventually gets out of that phase and moves on to the next.
What is the best advice you have ever got?
Every risk is an opportunity in disguise.
Is it possible to take a job to ensure some financial stability and try to start a business on the side? What is your advice?
Initially yes. In fact most people do that, as they are much better equipped to tackle the teething problems that every business encounters while setting up. But after a point of time, no amount of delegation and decentralization can replace your hands-on involvement in the project. So, if you want to take your dream to the highest level, you’ll need to be there at every stage of the growing process.