Entrepreneurship is all about grit, gumption, and goals

1. Why you chose your respective field?

I chose the education sector for primarily two reasons:

  • My belief in the power of education:  For me, education is a means to an end and an end in itself. Education is an instrument of positive change for personal and societal goals. A truly educated person is empowered to find his/her path to development. Coming from an educated family, I was educated in the broadest sense of the term and the philosophy of development —“teach fishing than feed fish”
  • My own expertise, experience, and exposure in the field of education including institution building and management. Having been in the academia for 4 decades with global exposure and international linkages, I was equipped and had the competency along with the required depth and breadth to venture into educational entrepreneurship.

2.   As an entrepreneur, what was the hardest thing you had to face and how did you overcome it?

  • The hardest challenge that I faced was ‘trust’. With the omnipresent  ‘The market of lemons’ problem – proposed and popularized by Nobel Prize winning economist George Akerlof, people inevitably end up mistrusting your intent and passion. It’s hard to believe that sincere educationists would invest their hard earned money in an educational institution to make a difference.
  • Unwavering focus on excellence and leading by example. I am a hands–on-leader. I do, deliver, and demand. I overcame the challenges, through dedication, commitment, and transparency and doing my best to convince that we are in this NOT for short-term gains or profits but for long term vision delivery. And I guess my exemplary record of public service helped and will continue to help.

3.   The most memorable moment of the entrepreneurship journey so far?

  • There are many memorable moments. But one that stands out is the inauguration of the campus in November 2012 by Shri Deepak Parekh, Chairman, HDFC. Mr. Deepak Parekh honored his commitment to me by chartering a plane to be in Mysore, as there were practical hurdles because of the Cauvery agitation and Bangalore-Mysore road closure made it a memorable one. This act of Parekh-ji made my respect for this corporate icon raise sky high. As Paulo Coelho says, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

4.   How has Mysuru influenced your growth?

  • Personally, for me, Mysuru has had a humongous impact in shaping my thoughts and actions.  I am a quintessential Mysorean. As I jokingly say, “ I don’t belong to Mysuru, Mysruru belongs to me.”  I always believe that each city is to be positioned with its own USP. We need to create a brand called Mysuru. I would like to position Mysuru as the Knowledge and Educational hub—the Boston of India. And MYRA is one small step in that direction.
  • Positioning Mysore/Mysore as the Boston of India. Just like Boston in the US is not a metro but is the mecca of education with institutions like Harvard, MIT, U Mass, Boston University and others, we should develop Mysuru as the destination for excellence in education.
  • Though Mysore has many disadvantages for any entrepreneur because of the connectivity and threshold issues, it also has many advantages. First and foremost because it is a royal city having been the capital of erstwhile Mysore Kingdom, its heritage value with its ‘City of Palaces’ tag is very high. I also count the fact that Mysore having the highest number (10) of GI (Geographical Indicator) tag for a city along with Karnataka having the distinction of highest number (35) for a state, helps us in building brand Mysuru.
  • I believe that Mysuru offers the best of both worlds. The charm of a small town and the glamor of a metro as Bangalore is only 130 KM away. It is in a way suburb of Bangalore because we are on Bangalore-Ooty; Bangalore—Coorg highway. We can leverage the same.

5. Your advice to aspiring/budding women entrepreneurs?

For me, man or woman is just a gender. I believe, as Eleanor Roosevelt, the diplomat and former First Lady of the US said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Entrepreneurship is not for the weak hearted—is my key advice.

My five mantras:

1.     Be strong and gutsy and develop the daredevil attitude. Ensure your life experiences of ‘good and bad’ helps strengthen your risk appetite.

2.     Develop the ‘Never say die’ attitude. Giving up is easy; persistence and perseverance are the hardest. Follow the latter.

3.     My formula for success: 5 % inspiration + 90% sweat + 5 % luck

4.     Required knowledge, skill sets, and the right attitude are essential. Try and equip yourself continuously with the knowledge and skill sets.

5.     Your attitude determines your altitude in your entrepreneurial journey.

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