7 years on and still a startup

Contact IdeafarmsThis post is based on a true story. The story of  Ideafarms. We started among  equally uncertain settings in the wake of the dotcom bust and 9/11. We had no funds. We had no product ideas. We didn’t know who we would sell to. All we had was passion and deep down conviction that we would make things work for us. Today we’re almost 7 years old and alive and kicking. Ready to take on the current gloom with renewed energy. We’re back to our start-up ways.

The most important thing then was – and I say this with the benefit of hindsight – that we had no past to weigh us down; nothing of a reputation either individually or collectively that needed to be protected. Both of which we have today. So we’ve decided to shrug the baggage off our shoulders.

What we did have was faith in ourselves, in each other, and most of all in our non-existent customers. Had we tried to validate any of this or tried to follow the trodden path, I doubt we would have moved forward. The past and the present have a way of stopping you in your tracks. This knowing alone gives us the insights to rewind to the past and to relearn to trust our gut more than the squigglies on a business plan. We’ve shot the Devil’s Advocate sitting on our left shoulders and buried him.

While there are numerous examples of garage startups in the US, India has no mechanism to nurture entrepreneurship. Nor does it help that we were ‘slaves’ of the British for centuries. That’s what makes our effort even more noticeworthy. We focused only on 2Cs because that was all we had the wherewithal to. Culture – open and growing, clearly focused on value provision AND Cashflow – not revenue or profit, only paying bills. We have to survive first we thought.

So while reported layoffs occupy front pages, we’re hiring. While most companies carefully craft their internal PR to communicate static compensation 2009, we’re rewarding performance with promotions and salary hikes. While others are complaining about unavailability of credit, we’re announcing internal VC funding for new ‘products’. While conservation of cash and maintaining status quo seems to be the order of the day, we’re spending on innovation.

Please call us foolish. For thriving in the opportunities of the bad times. For embracing risk. For not trying to stretch our reserves those extra few months. The problem with us is that we realise the value of doing things giving it all it takes. So if the money does run out earlier, we fail faster. So what if we don’t turn 8. We’ve enjoyed our 7 years much more than people give themselves a chance to in their entire work lives. 

Try it sometime. You wouldn’t believe how grateful we are to all those guys that caused the crash of 2008.

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2 thoughts on “7 years on and still a startup

  1. Ideafarm’s insistence on being a child has actually helped it grow up most naturally. That, and the tendency to swim against the current has made Ideafarms what it is today.

    ‘Foolish dare to go where the wise fear to tread’. Yes, by that account you are foolish, but you have dared, and in my view that’s what counts.
    And I am glad that I was part of this foolishness, when it began.

    Good luck for many more years of such ‘foolishness’.

    • Yes RD! I like the way you compared Ideafarms to a child and our wish to remain so. Thanks very much for feeling the emotion even now. Once in Ideafarms always in Ideafarms is the way we’d like it to be.

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