VG Siddhartha death: Startup entrepreneurs share moments when they felt shattered and broken

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Published: August 1, 2019 2:56:15 PM

The unfortunate demise of Cafe Coffee Day founder VG Siddhartha’s has once again put the spotlight on the lonely journey of entrepreneurship thwarted with discouragement, setbacks, and repeated failures.

More often than not the challenge of lack of capital or liquidity crunch arising out various circumstances has been among the key reasons for pressure on entrepreneurs.

The unfortunate demise of Cafe Coffee Day founder VG Siddhartha’s has once again put the spotlight on the lonely journey of entrepreneurship thwarted with discouragement, setbacks, and repeated failures. From nothing to lose in the beginning to mounting investors and employee expectations and the fear of losing it all due to internal or external circumstances are what entrepreneurs have to wrap their head around. More often than not the challenge of lack of capital or liquidity crunch arising out various circumstances has been among the key reasons for such pressure as VG Siddhartha too highlighted in his letter to the company’s director the liquidity crunch and the pressure from “one of the private equity partners” and other lenders among the reasons for putting pressure on him.

“There are moments when you feel the entire world around you is shattering. During 2015-16 investment winter we were under a lot of stress as there were questions around our sector (vernacular social network). Jio hadn’t happened and people were sceptical whether India will come online or not and if it does, how will you monetise the audience,” Farid Ahsan, Co-founder, ShareChat told Financial Express Online.

While these questions for investors are one-off things, entrepreneurs live with these questions every second but they have to put up a solid face in front of their employees, family, team, and even cofounders. The fear is not about failing but whatever being done will go to waste, said Ahsan.

Moreover, there have been few instances for startups “where the board told the founder that he has done nothing despite the company growing to $100 million true not inflated valuation. Investors sometimes become like that. They are bit hypocrite and they do things like that,” one startup founder request anonymity told Financial Express Online.

Loss of Respect

Loss of faith is among the key problems that entrepreneurs deal with in running their startups. That’s because they are strongly attached to their businesses and there is a sense of loss of respect when the business doesn’t do well. “Entrepreneurs give up because of loss of faith. They think there will be nothing left and that they will lose their respect since they are highly attached with the company,” Sujayath Ali, Co-founder and CEO at online fashion marketplace Voonik told Financial Express Online.

For Ali too, funding was the reason for facing trials and tribulations. “There was a time when funding got delayed that caused a lot of pressure. Every startup goes through that. Due to that, we had to delay our vendor payments etc. I never hid anything from my team though sometimes I tried to keep it to myself, but I ended up losing sleep, getting up at midnight thinking about how to solve it,” he said.

Ritesh Malik who recently sold his co-working startup Innov8 to global hotel chain OYO echoed the problem being too attached. “The biggest flaw is that you start taking your life too seriously in terms of being associated with your dream. So there is a lot of risk especially on the reputation side,” Malik told Financial Express Online. Innov8 In 2017 according to Malik had expanded beyond that could afford and signed multiple leases without having much capital.

“We had bitten more than we could chew. We didn’t have institutional capital to service all of that (leases),” he said. Malik had to shift the salary date from the 7th to the 15th of every month for its around 150 employees. However, Malik was fortunate to escape the mental stress being a doctor even as his circle of entrepreneurs was there for him to share things. “A school or a college friend could just lend you an ear but cannot solve the problem,” he said having learnt to disassociate himself from his company to give time to himself and family.

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