Last week, the CEO of Swipe Telecom, Mr. Shripal Gandhi came to Symbiosis Institute of Management Studies to deliver a keynote address during its 2 day management fest BARCODE. He had decided to speak on how Swipe Telecom is about to change the landscape of the Tablet industry in India, yet much of his impromptu talk was on a topic close to his heart, entrepreneurship. His desire to not only lead but inspire other young minds to do the same as he has, was evident through what he spoke.
From an initial handful of 5 people last year, to over 100 employees delivering the best of sleek budget tabs to Indians, Swipe has come a long way in its last 13 months.
For a man whose first love is technology and who spoke of the concept of one life to live, Mr. Gandhi seemed to have embraced himself to face any challenge that life has to throw at him. He spoke of his initial education in India and his days doing post graduation in the US, followed by his stint at a technology company Unidym where he worked on Nanotechnology.
The launch and the subsequent failing of the Aakash tablet was a significant event in the lives of the Swipe team. Born from those roots of research, they realized the potential for low cost tablets in India that needed to be introduced to the masses in a better way. The Swipe 3D tablets launched last year is testimony enough. Customer is king. Original packaging and cooler designs seem to have therefore become the forte of Swipe tablets, as is evident by the launch of their latest product in alliance with MTV, India. Swipe has today managed to take a large chunk of tablets sold through online portals and is on target to be a prominent player in the Indian market.
A short but brilliant video described this journey in vivid detail.
But on taking stage, Mr. Gandhi chose to talk about something deeper than just what he does. He told the students about why does it. And the audience was hooked.
Be Smart he said. Don’t just follow what is told. Think. Plan your next move. And the next one after that.
Ask the right questions and prepare yourself to accept the probability of the impossible. He gave examples of Redbus founder Phanindra Sama and Steve Jobs. People who realized the art of making their world a reality. “One life to live”, he repeated again.
This very passion has today led him to be the CEO of Swipe, which by his own admission is valued at Rs 100 Cr plus.
But before he opened the floor for questions, he fielded one of his own. A famous question asked to John Scully, the Ex CEO of Apple. “Why do the top startups come from Silicon Valley?”, to which his reply was that the kids there are given the license to fail. Overburdening young minds with unnecessary pressures will take their freedom away and rob them of their ideas.
Some of the important questions asked to him by the students and their answers.
Q To come up with an idea for a startup, how do you do soul searching, like you mentioned?
Shripal: To realize that nothing comes for free, you must ask yourself ‘What are you willing to give up for it?’. Steve Jobs and Buddhism often said the same. They teach you the importance of looking within. Only then, does an idea come to you.
Q What can you do to save your idea from being stolen?
Shripal: If it’s not good enough, it won’t get stolen. (laughs). But on a serious note, Non Disclosure agreements can be signed by all parties privy to the concept. It is a common practice at events where young minds showcase ideas.
Q Your vision is to empower the masses with the low cost tablets, yet how do you manage your technology side, since it is as important to keep it at low cost as well?
Shripal: Our product planning and production phase is one of the fastest in the world. From conception to final delivery, we take 40-45 days. It is all a matter of planning and licensing the right technologies.
On that note, a wonderful talk came to end. In one Swipe, he won over the hearts of the students and the entire audience. A glimpse into the mind of the entrepreneur.