The sustainability of an entrepreneur

I don’t know if it is just me, but recently, when a friend of mine (who happens to be the vice-president at a technology company) and I were talking about entrepreneurship in India I started feeling we journalists tend to find a reason for everything. We were having this discussion about what the common ‘characteristic’ was among India’s numerous, highly successful entrepreneurs. We touched upon several areas – strategic thinking, people management, risk taking ability and even leadership characteristics (mind you, technology guys hardly believe in words like strategy). In between all the reasoning, we figured almost every entrepreneur we knew had his or her own strong and weak points. In fact, it wasn’t any common trait that made them successful; it was their uniqueness that made a difference.

Just before this discussion, I had finished my interview with Sanjeev Bikhchandani, founder and executive vice-chairman of Info Edge, the parent company behind Naukri.com. Inadvertently, I started reasoning (yet again!) what Bikhchandani’s unique characteristic was. To me, what stood out was his ability to work with sustained passion over a prolonged duration. His passion – to make his consumer Internet company the market leader in several verticals – coupled with giving businesses time to mature and grow was his unique selling point. In our cover story this edition, we try to capture the strategies adopted by Bikhchandani for growth and some of the finer nuances of his management style that makes Info Edge what it is today.

Also in this edition, we introduce a new section called Small Business. Over the last few editions, we’ve covered the strategies adopted by several companies across the board. These included some of India’s largest brands, private equity funded growth companies and venture capital funded startups. Our editorial team wanted to further enhance the mix of companies we featured – hence the new section on Small Business. Our writer S. Meera takes us through the story of five small business entrepreneurs who have come up with innovative, highly differentiated ideas that they wanted to implement.

In our Special Features section, assistant editor Divya Chandramouli has a freewheeling conversation on design thinking with Delhi-based ace designer Itu Chaudhuri of Itu Chaudhuri Design. Ever since Steve Jobs launched the iPod with that game changing user interface, design concepts have started finding a lot of importance in conversations among managers and entrepreneurs across the world. The use of design outside of marketing communication and brand management is something that is picking up world over. Be it product design or information design, look and feel coupled with usability has turned out to be a real differentiator for several companies. As Chaudhuri explains, good design enhances the solution to a problem or even creates a new opportunity.

On a tangential note, as the February edition of our magazine hits the stands, M.S. Dhoni and his men begin, arguably, the most important journey of their lives in pursuit of lifting the 2011 cricket world cup. Sachin Tendulkar, in probably his last world cup, is in the form of his life. But this time, unlike in the other world cups, he has Dhoni’s captaincy and a buoyant army of youngsters to turn to for support. Here’s wishing the Indian cricket team a wonderful campaign at the 2011 cricket world cup.

As always, we hope you enjoy reading this edition of The Smart CEO.