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Shivjeet Kullar

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Point Blank: I Survive By Paranoia

Let’s see where we’ve got so far. We launched a breakout site. Managed to build a unique community with session times that are some of the highest in the world. Have signed on more than 50 clients. Received more than a million dollars in funding

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OK. Let’s see where we’ve got so far. We launched a breakout site. Managed to build a unique community with session times that are some of the highest in the world. Have signed on more than 50 clients. Received more than a million dollars in funding. Blah, blah, blah.

So now wherever I get go I get asked the question — what is my secret of success? I’m presuming that people want to know a) whether it is an inborn judgment of what will work and not, b) whether it is a the willingness and ability to take calculated risks or perhaps c) an optimistic positive energy that the universe returns.

None of these.

It is a survival by paranoia.

Nowadays in office there is an unwritten rule.

When I voice my concerns about any thing no one is allowed to tell me ‘don’t worry.’ I’ve told them that we’ve reached where we are because I always worry. I worry about the targets. I worry about the site. I worry about every rupee we spend.

Now I know that this doesn’t sound very heroic. But that’s the way it is. I like to keep a Plan B, Plan C, Plan D and preferably a Plan E for everything
And believe me I’ve often had to move down the line to Plan D many times — and I think once Plan E.

There’s a writer called Lee Child. He isn’t any sort of literary giant. He writes action thrillers about a hero called Jack Reacher. In one of his books I read this quote — “Hope for the best, plan for the worst and what usually happens is something in between.”

This is bang on. Though on a scale of 1 -10 I have often found that what happens is not 5, but 3. However, the point is if you’re ready for it you can course correct, dig deep and scramble to make 3 into an 8.

So I like to be ready.

Ready that a client who is confirmed will change his mind.
Ready that once a job is billed he will slash the amount.
Ready that what I consider 3 sure projects becomes one.
Ready that an investor who seemed on suddenly changes his mind.
Ready that an investor will give a check that will bounce.
Ready that a shareholder who seems nice suddenly gets aggressive.
Ready that a key member of the team suddenly resigns.
Ready that a technology bug will suddenly hit the system.
Most of all ready that things will not happen on time.

Time is one of your greatest challenges when you run a startup — though that’s a topic I’ll deal with later.

It’s a curious kind of patience coupled with impatience that you need.

To give you an example. We’ve just completed a funding round but next stage venture capitalists are already talking to us. We’re unlikely to need funds for some time but I know how long deals take and I listen to all of them.

All this is survival by paranoia.

It just has one catch.

I’m not sure you can thrive by paranoia.

That’s why I try not to bother my son and cofounder about all this.

We first generation entrepreneurs have a fear of heights.

They should reach for the sky!


This article was published in BW Businessworld issue dated 'Oct. 31, 2016' with cover story titled 'THE YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR AWARDS 2016'


Tags assigned to this article:
Paranoia Magazine 31 October 2016 startup

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