Starting a business is not the same as scaling a business. The person who starts a business is not always the right person to scale the business. Each entrepreneur should determine to see if they are ready and are the right person to make that shift
Ivey Business School has tied up with many Indian schools. What draws you to India?
Any school that wants to be considered a global business school has to have some presence in India. It is one of the highest potential markets globally. If a business school doesn’t have a presence here, doesn’t have an understanding of the marketplace and the people in it, then it would lead to competitive disadvantage. When you are in a particular country, you tend to understand the business practices, the culture and the people a lot better. We have a long-term strategy towards India in this regard and have started building our brand in this direction. The more cases we write and co-author within the country, the better we understand the business practices and some of the issues that companies here face. We are exploring joint ventures, small exchange programs with academic institutions and executive education on the corporate side. We are still evaluating if our China model can be applied for India. The Chinese model involved setting up a permanent campus there and in India we are still trying to figure out if there is a need for a more substantial joint venture partnership with an Indian institution.
In India, which are the educational institutions that you have tie-ups with?
We have active partnerships with IIM-Bangalore, IIM-Calcutta, Shri Ram College of Commerce- University of Delhi and Indian School of Business. We have tied up with IIM-B for research projects and over three projects have moved forward in that regard. We recently signed a MoU with IIM-C to jointly develop and publish India-relevant cases. With SRCC, the opportunities are very different as they are an undergraduate school. We are looking forward to bringing some of Ivey’s best practices to the undergrad space in India and provide guidance in areas such as teaching methodology, faculty training and innovative program design. We see a lot of growth potential here. We also have a relationship with ISB where we co-organize an annual competition for business school faculty. There are smaller tie-ups as well.
We have a large library of India based case studies. We have seen tremendous interest in India-specific case studies in the last 18 months and that interest is really growing quickly. You can’t underestimate the importance of quality case writing. Ivey has trained more faculty to write and to teach with cases in India than any other business school. Working with Indian faculty on developing case studies on Indian business practices is also helping Ivey faculty gain expertise and understanding about doing business in India.
Why is there such a humongous interest in India case studies abroad?
There are a couple of reasons for that. In the Indian market, we see a movement towards case study teaching Along with more participative learning, we want students to be more creative in their thinking about issues. I think that is what is driving the interest. Business schools around the world are integrating case studies on India into their courses so their students have a wider and more international orientation. At Ivey, we bring those learnings to our classrooms back home.
In 2008, Ivey started looking at Indian case studies. At the time, there were less than a hundred cases on India, across case study publishers. There has been substantial growth over a relatively short period of time. Now Ivey has a collection of 300+ case studies of India-based businesses. Even Harvard Business School has only around 100 case studies.
Do you think the definition of success changes for entrepreneurs once they enter the top league?
For some of them the definition of success changes, but not for the majority. A lot of the entrepreneurs are problem solvers- it is about winning in the marketplace and I think that drives them more than anything else. Once their company gets a good solid foundation with their near-term assured, then they start to look at what other opportunities are there for them with regards their time and resources. . Some entrepreneurs like to give back to their community, while others are looking to help other entrepreneurs. I don’t think what drives them within the business changes that much.
You have been an investor in a variety of start-ups. What are the signs of a good start-up and can they be replicated across the world or is it dependent on the relevant economic environment?
There’s no recipe (laughs). It is different from business to business and industry to industry. One of the key ingredients they definitely need is to have good talent around them. Surrounding yourself with people who complement your skillset is critical. One of the common mistakes that entrepreneurs make is starting out with friends or hiring people that are a lot like them. That tends to create more problems down the road than it solves. There are benefits of working with friends and family as you know them very well. On the other hand, you need to have a clear set of capabilities in your top management and people who see specific problems from different angles. As you get through the early start-up phase, where you are hands-on on everything, you transition to a stage where you delegate and trust people and this is where you need to have the right people at the right positions. This is a hard but critical step for a lot of entrepreneurs. Transitions are as difficult as getting funding or developing a vision for the organization. There are many transition stages as the company develops. There are many questions that entrepreneurs need to answer like the size of the market, do I have the capabilities, need for funding etc. To my mind, funding is not the biggest hurdle. There is a lot of money chasing good opportunities. If you are not getting the financial investment, then it tells you how others perceive the opportunity. Perseverance is important for an entrepreneur and one needs to take a good hard look at what needs to be changed. Sometimes it’s better to cut your losses and reinvest yourself in something different.
What are the 5 factors that an entrepreneur needs to keep in mind to make the venture sustainable?
Firstly, remember that you have started this business to fulfil a particular need; don’t lose sight of your customers as their needs change over time and are evolving at a different rate than your capabilities – you need to change over time to continue to meet those needs. Secondly, keep in mind that you are an entrepreneur and hence you need to innovate and change all the time. Thirdly, there are also other challenges to creating a sustainable business on a continuous basis like having the right people at the right jobs to take the company to the next level and not with the ones that have got you where you are today. Fourthly, have other resources for growth. Most entrepreneurs fail to work on their capabilities and this hampers them when competition comes in. Lastly, they always need to work ahead on how successful they should be in the marketplace. There is a need to make the business sustainable and reinvest their profits into the business. There will be a time when there would be no profits. One word of advice I would have is that the person who started the business might not be the right person to scale the business. I think each entrepreneur should determine and see if they are ready for that shift. It is certainly a shift in how they do business; instead of having to work with the customers more closely, they will have to delegate the work.