‘I don’t have all the answers yet’ – Tejas Dave, Founder of Euphoriq and Former Consultant at Booz & Co.
About 6 months back, Tejas Dave was a Consultant at Booz & Co. leading a very hardworking but a comfortable career. Today, you see him travelling across Mumbai in local trains trying to convince couples who are about to be married why his product (Euphoriq) deserves to be looked at. An IIM Bangalore graduate (Class of 2011), Tejas completed his Electrical Engineering at The University of Texas at Dallas. Along with his partner Shyam Seshadri, he has created an unique platform to make wedding celebrations timeless. Let’s hear his story!
How did you decide to quit your comfortable Consulting job to start-up? You were just 2 years into it and few people take such a risk so early in their career. What made you take the plunge?
Starting my own venture has always been at the top of my mind. For years I have discussed with friends and family that I will be taking the leap of faith. Consulting offered a great platform to learn quickly, interact with some of the best minds and develop a disciplined work ethic. Finally, it did provide the push for this proverbial leap of faith. On my last project I had the opportunity to work closely with the entrepreneurs of a young Indian mid-sized business. Their experience and the drive to create and build a valuable company inspired me. I started talking to the seniors in my firm about starting my own venture and if this would be the best time for it. There was a common thread in all the answers that I got. Now is the best time! Some more years down the line my opportunity cost will keep on increasing and along with that my risk appetite will start going down. So don’t wait…do it now!
Tell us something about Euphoriq. How, When, What?
Ever been to a wedding and thought – what is the couple’s story? how do I get hold of the group photo that was taken? why are people taking the same photo using multiple phones? how do we reach the venue? when should I show up? who is taking care of the travel? Also, being a great friend you might have taken a few photos yourself and uploaded those on popular social networking sites – possibly around the time the couple is on their honeymoon. A great gesture, but a memory that will soon fade away in the barrage of memes and corruption talks that crowd people’s timelines.
Also, if you have ever had the opportunity to be closely associated with a wedding then you would know the logistical issues that it brings up. Number of guests coming to an event sets the budget. One is running short of time and still needs to send out reminders to guests. The wedding is done but where are the photos? Everyone wants to see their pictures but you have nothing to show.
All of these are problems which can be solved with smart use of technology. Euphoriq’s co-founder, Shyam Seshadri and I decided to make use of technology to genuinely make celebrations timeless with ease.
This is definitely an exciting space to be in. I think we might have already created history a few weeks ago by selling mobile technology at an ethnic wear exhibition in which the most popular items being sold were sarees, lehengas, and jewelry.
Can you tell us 3 lessons that you have learnt so far in your short entrepreneurial journey?
Plan v/s Reality
There is a huge difference in drafting a plan and what reality has to offer. I would have created a fantastic plan, but then reality dawns in terms of resource constraints, team constraints and market reaction! Having a plan is good, but one must be comfortable with the fact that things don’t pan out exactly as per plan. The most common scenario is not meeting deadlines, especially for a product oriented company like ours. The first official launch date had to be revised three times!
No it is not as obvious as you might think it is
The classic. What is your one line pitch? What is the hook? What is the customer value proposition? While defining these even on paper is a challenge, communicating these to real customers is a different ball game altogether. Primarily because, one doesn’t always get to control the conversation. I have already delivered the sales dialog in Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi and English – each time with different reactions! The lesson here is again flexibility. Those dialogues have been helpful in shaping our communication to customers now. Also, to seed a new concept requires patience and not everyone that you talk to will start off at the same point on the learning curve.
Dealing with the “Are you sure?” situation
This question comes from all well wishers – friends, family, colleagues; and it is not asked only once. Everyone is concerned about my career and the decision that I have taken. Hence, it is natural for them to ask. One doesn’t usually just leave a well paying job to start a venture in a completely unconnected and yet to be proven space. I do realize that I don’t have all the answers yet, but am sure I will find them soon. Explaining my actions and thoughts to the people who care is one of the ways in which I deal with this situation. However, what helps me most is reading experiences of other entrepreneurs and gaining comfort in the fact that almost all have had to face the same scenario – regardless of their background.
What support have you received from the IIM Bangalore fraternity?
My first set of customers is my batchmates! They have been super supportive and enthusiastic in adopting and promoting Euphoriq. Some batchmates have lent their own tech product expertise in reviewing the user experience and giving constructive feedback. All this means a lot to us. The more formal channels (incubation, funding leads, enterprise connects etc.) haven’t been explored yet. I am sure that the IIM Bangalore network and resources will provide a good starting point once we do initiate that journey.
Any message for graduating class of 2014?
Make the most of the remaining time that you have in college. Enjoy, relax do whatever you want to. Simply because this time is never coming back. Once you do leave the gates of your institution with an alum ID instead of a student ID, life would have changed forever. Make sure you get to know the rest of your batchmates well, because now is the best time to meet all these future leaders without an appointment.
However, once you have crossed those gates think carefully. If you do have this undying zeal to start something of your own, then do it! If you are driven to make a solid corporate career, then do it! The only thing that stops us from doing anything is our self-induced inhibition. Beyond that the road is very clear and the prize is yours for the taking.
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