When I thought about introducing Interviews to my blog, Navyug Mohnot was one of the first few leading Entrepreneurs in my mind. Thanks to Navyug for his time and warm acceptance for this interview. For those who do not know him;
Let’s hear Navyug answer some of the questions I could frame.
Question: Navyug, since I know you for some time now, I find you as one of the sharpest and strong headed business leaders I have ever met. We are curious to know the signs you discovered in yourself that made you take this leap of entrepreneurship?
Answer: In hindsight it looks looks like it was all by design. I will admit most was spontaneous, with multiple course corrections as one went along. QAI started with an epiphany when I was coming back from USA to spend a few years in India. Till then I didn’t know I would be an entrepreneur much less a “successful” one ( which is still WIP*). Never thought about it, it really didn’t matter. I just went with the flow, embarked on a journey and was fortunate that many things kept working out, many great people decided to participate, the world of opportunities kept opening up.
Question: If we ask you time travel back to 1st year of your venture and have 15 min with your former self, what were some crucial lessons or mistakes you would share with us?
Answer: The have been many mistakes. The one thing that I wish I had done differently ( don’t know if one would call it a “ mistake”) is not investing time in getting a group of co founders. Its much easier to build and scale a business if you have a group of like minded people taking ownership and being just as motivated.
Question: What was the game-changer for you in your business life and that has impacted the way that you work today? How was it like before and after?
Answer: The game changer was that early on we decided to be more “ expensive” than our competition, a Big 4 firm. That forced us to work backwards, deliver much greater quality, hire far more talented staff, and seek customers who would value this. This kept us on our toes, and enabled us to get more demanding customers, who helped us get even better.
Question: In any business, one of the biggest things to do is managing people. What advice you’d like to share about it? How did you lead such a big workforce?
Answer: It comes down to values. You cannot manage people nor work as a team if the values differ. Its totally a necessary condition. The second tick mark is competence. Every person junior or senior must be amazingly competent for the role. Else again things start to break down. And lastly you must hire people whom you “like”-people you can spend time with, talk to, share. Without that affinity things start to drift. Once you do these three you need to “manage” very little.
Question: Would you share one of your habits that contributed the most to your success?
Answer: Always churning the pot! Never okay with status quo, always restless for more. Constant looking for ideas and innovations. By the way that is also a big weakness.
Question: Do you find something missing in the mindset or today’s entrepreneurs?
Answer: By an large they are much smarter than we were when we started, have more access to capital, more exposure and more confidence. I often wish one could be young and start again! Coming back to your question, I am not sure I see one issue or something missing in their min set, across the board. All individuals, of course, have there weak points….but by an large its a great set of young entrepreneurs.
Question: Have you ever faced a serious failure, Navyug? How did you address that challenge?
Answer: Failures have come every day. Fortunately ( or unfortunately?!) never a serious one. Sometimes one wonders if one would have had greater learnings had there been serious failures. I read stories of entrepreneurs who didn’t have money to buy milk for next day morning but stuck it out. I admire that…don’t know if I would have been as resolute.
Question: In day to day business, we make a lot of assumptions. What do you think is the best way to validate your assumptions and minimize risks?
Answer: Two things: keep talking to customers and keep doing experiments ( building small pieces). When people commit to spend time or money on something, is when we really get to know. All else is ego, theory or delusion.
Question: Our audience wants to know about the non-business side of Navyug? What do you do when you’re not working? What’s your work-life balance philosophy?
Answer: I am very interested in art, architecture, film and photography. I run a Film Club, where we get together and see great world cinema.
Question: Most of us have our mentors and ideals in life? Who were your biggest guides and inspirations?
Answer: I would say it would be my Father for many items and Shah Rukh Khan for his approach to life! I try and combine the values and principles of my Father, with the passion and zest of SRK.
Question: Last question, what would you suggest our readers to do for their self development and ongoing learning to be a better leader. What you have been doing?
Answer: Self development happens by relentless reflecting and being honest to your self about what worked and what didn’t. My advice would be to continuously beat up on yourself and without feeling low or down!
I had my key take away from Navyug’s answers. He is mostly active on Facebook to answer and share his thoughts on some serious, sensible or interesting areas.