Offbeat entrepreneurship: A new example of success
Passion, adventure and pragmatism can take us all very far, and it is a worthy idea to invest in un-convention
"Human progress has always been driven by a sense of adventure and unconventional thinking.
- Andre Geim
The rationality of following conventions stands challenged in times when the world appears massively uncertain - the coronavirus pandemic turned all ideas of normalcy on their heads and we had to foster new idioms of collective existence.
The same is true for entrepreneurial acumen and while the usual processes of accumulating capital, launching and marketing might still be followed, the world bristles with stories of individuals who led by example, allowed passion, creativity and innovation to forego conventional logic and created exemplars of entrepreneurship saluted by all.
As business scholars Simone Guercini and Bernard Cova note, while conventionally and corresponding to the stereotypical entrepreneur, opportunity recognition is crucial and consists in recognising the opportunity first and then developing an organisational development path.
Unconventionally, however, the search for opportunities is not what takes center-stage, but entrepreneurship can be viewed as a shared passion and communal incentive to develop something that could become a successful business venture. Passion becomes the keyword here, as individuals have demonstrated, hobbies and activities they enjoyed can be developed into entrepreneurial juggernauts.
Rob and Kim Murgatroyd, founders of JetSetLife.Tv made a career out of their drive for travelling, as they travel to the choicest locations in the world and write unique, insider guidebooks about them, create podcasts and videos.
The traffic to their website is tremendous, their social media handles have thousands of followers and the online business is flourishing. Anuj Srivastava, as London.edu reports, with a technology degree at the IIT Kanpur, two years of work with PepsiCo India, an MBA at London Business School, four years with a San Francisco Bay tech startup, eight years with Google eventually founded Livspace, a three-way technology platform for interior design that connects homeowners, designers and suppliers in January 2015.
While his jobs were well-paying, he realized that his heart lay in "building things and realising how value and culture are built", and he left a career worthy dying for to start his own venture - to organise the world's painters.
Today, LivSpace is South-east Asia's largest and fastest- growing omnichannel home interiors and renovation platform, picking up multiple prestigious international industry awards and raising over $200 million in private equity capital along the way.
Today, the Indian landscape is replete with such unconventional entrepreneurship stories - from Nakul Kumar's Cashify that provides customers with the best price for their old/used gadgets to Bengaluru-based Boriya Bistar which offers packaging of basic necessities for people on the move in a 'bundle' package which can also be customized based on the quantity required. In unstable times like the present scenario, there are crucial lessons to be learnt from unconventional entrepreneurial stories.
The first lesson to learn is arguably, that there is a satisfiable need for everything in our collective lives and thus, even satiating a craving can become a business venture. Pure Himalayan Air harvests air from Himalayan mountains and valleys which is filled into bottles using cold press compression; the company sells a 10 litre bottle for Rs 550 providing around 160 shots of inhaling air.
There is a need to read books with a group, a need to have healthier breakfasts, a need to keep track of everyday spending and all such needs can be fulfilled through entrepreneurial interventions. Thus, instead of looking for opportunities, we can look at everything that exists as an opportunity and make something marketable and saleable out of it.
The second lesson is to let your passions dictate your course of action - work that you enjoy and believe in is likely to be enjoyed by others and that is the driving impetus behind numerous digital content creators and influencers who have made stellar and rewarding careers out of entertaining people and talking about everyday lives.
As Guercini and Nova document, history is filled with passionate people creating flourishing businesses. In 1991, frustrated by the inabilities of his bike to keep up with his limit-pushing stunts, Mat Hoffman, a BMX pro rider, started creating his own line of bikes, thus revolutionizing the sport, the community, and the business.
The third lesson is to connect with the unexplored facets of our social lives, to recognize needs and desires that people experience and interventions which can add meaning to their lives. This meaning could be added through tutorials to make better coffee, or to have a platform to post your writing, or eat a flavour of snacks reminding you of home.
Un-convention is about exploring what conventions do not and building a community around it, what several aforementioned individuals successfully did.
On the whole, it can be safely remarked that unconventional entrepreneurship is here to stay and an inspiring way to affirm ourselves and others and combat difficult times where stabilities break down. Passion, adventure and pragmatism can take us all very far, and it is a worthy idea to invest in un-convention.
(The author is Founder Upsurge Global and President SAHE (Society for Advancement of Human Endeavour)