Devesh Chawla: The Indian Startup Culture Had Created Two Distinct Classes of Entrepreneurs: Those With Money and Those With Ideas

October 24, 2022

Devesh Chawla of Chatur Ideas.

Tell us about yourself?

Hailing from Mumbai, Devesh Chawla is a computer engineer and an MBA who had this idea of creating an ecosystem where the entrepreneurs, mentors and investors can come together and connect, which gave birth to Chatur Ideas – one of India’s largest startup enabling platform that connects startups with mentors and investors

. Everybody has a smart idea but not all of them know how to execute it in the best possible way, that is where Chatur Ideas comes into picture as they help individuals and companies with full 360 degree execution support.

Being an investor himself Devesh has worked with hundreds of startups including Catapooolt, Orbit Marketplace, Market Pulse, Hubilo, Cloudrino, O-Genie, to name a few.

He is deeply committed to add value to the start-up ecosystem and revolutionize the entrepreneurship picture in India.

What lessons has being an entrepreneur taught you? 

Lesson 1 – Never stop meeting the right people Your connections keep your business afloat. Make relevant connections and networks that will keep you elucidated with their experiences and learnings. Keep in touch with them along the way and build quality relationships for uplifting your knowledge and business. As they say, your network is your net worth!

Lesson 2 – Your business will demand money If you are starting a start-up, it will demand some money and might take a few financial hits. But without spending money, you can’t make it a long way. However, also don’t forget to be frugal and smart with your spending patterns. The best entrepreneurs know when and where to spend while taking some risks.

A tip here would be; to spend money where you see the value. This value can be social, psychological, or other ways.

If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

As a first-time entrepreneur, I wasted a few months looking for the solution before looking for the problem.

This should be the other way around, they should look for the problem first, and then find the solution. Just finding the solution is not enough, the solution should be very enticing, have should have the potential to create money and solve problems at the same time.

These are the pointers which first time and aspiring entrepreneurs should keep in mind.

A lot of entrepreneurs find it difficult to balance their work and personal lives. How have you found that?

A successful start-up isn’t about how much time and energy you are putting in; it is about how well you are balancing it with your personal life as well.

Nothing is as important as your health while chasing your dreams. The phases that entrepreneurs call hard work might also unknowingly turn out into burnouts.

As an entrepreneur, you must know to delegate work, make sure to take breaks and celebrate small wins. This will take you and your start-up a long way.

Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?

Investor Network: 1. Mr. Subhrangshu Kumar Neogi (Ex-CMO Religare), 2. Mr. Umasankar Nistala (Ex-MD JP Morgan, BNP Paribas), 3. Mr. Miten Mehta (Global Alliance Officer – Fractal Ai), 4. Mr. U R Bhat (Director, Dalton Capital Advisors), 5. Mr. Guneet Singh (Global Head – Marketing & Creative Solutions – Google), 6. Prof. U T Rao (Angel Investor, Start Up Mentor and Movie Producer) and many more.

What do you think is your magic sauce? What sets you apart from the competitors?

Any industry in today’s time cannot run without competitors since it only makes our own company stand out of the rest and clients do understand the value given to them.

Chatur Ideas is better because we give customized service to each client and the value given is purely in terms of capability and efficiency of startups which is directly proportional to current market demand and expectations.

How have you found sales so far? Do you have any lessons you could pass on to other founders in the same market as you just starting out?

We have more than 1100+ startups under our wings. We have also collaborated with 800+ institutions and have a base of 1500+ investors which is rising gradually.

Not to doubt, we have a tremendous lifetime value of people associated with us. From an 18 years old aspiring entrepreneur to a 60 plus angel investor, we are happy to cater to all.

Lesson to pass on to other founders: According to me, funding is not everything. I completely disagree with the statement that the funding of a startup determines the success of a startup.

Your happy customers, your traction, and your repeat customers are the ones that define your success.

In fact, a start-up should raise funding only at the time when they are ready to scale up, or else it becomes just like a ventilator, providing you with the necessary money to survive, and the moment the ventilator or the funding is gone, the company collapses.

You can create a company by piloting at a very small level, and once you think you can scale up, you can raise funds.

The start-ups with a lack of funding should bootstrap, raise money from personal sources, and start at a smaller level.

In cases where the money is needed, there are multiple grants available by the government and some angel investors.

But usually, even Angel Investors provide the money only after a start-up as proved its worth and do not invest in a company at the idea stage as everyone has ideas but the execution that matters.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far in your business, and how did you overcome it?

One of the biggest challenges that I personally faced was acceptance.

I was not sure if people would accept me, as there were already bigger players in the market, doing things similar to our business idea, and even they were facing tough times.

I was not sure, being so young, entering an already competitive field, if I would be able to achieve what I wanted and if the market will respond to it in a positive way.

To overcome that, I got into and gave my 100%. I stepped out of my comfort zone, spent more than 18 hours a day on the start-up, making sure that I put all the pieces together to get the benefits of the mentors and the investors.

Eventually, the hard work paid off, people started seeing the sincerity and honesty in my work, often foregoing the revenue in it and thinking of the bigger picture.

This is how I overcame this challenge and Chatur Ideas was able to rise up rapidly.

What do you consider are the main strengths of operating your business in India and the specific state you are in over other states in India?

The Indian startup culture had created two distinct classes of entrepreneurs: those with money and those with ideas. Reasons for operating in Mumbai, Maharashtra over other states.

1. Mumbai is considered to be the ‘Financial Capital’ of India. It accounts for around 70% of India’s capital transactions. Since most of the startups are funded by private investors or firms, Mumbai is one of the most suitable cities for startups to be created.

2. When it comes to opportunities, dreams, and business ventures, this city has always made great innovations.

3. Maharashtra ranks higher in terms of ease of doing business (92.88 out of 100). Delhi ranks pretty low with a score of (31.69).

What (if any) are some weaknesses of operating your business within India and your state?

Being an entrepreneur can make it difficult to resist comparing your company to others.

Making comparisons can lead business owners to feel they don’t measure up most of the time. Small businesses certainly face many challenges.

In spite of this, small businesses have a number of hidden advantages, which can be reframed to drive innovation and growth.

If you could operate your business in another state in India rather than the State you are in, which state would it be and why?

Described as the world’s fastest growing tech hub, the Bangalore-Karnataka startup ecosystem is home to R&D centers of some of the world’s most famous tech companies, including Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and Google.

Taking this into account, Karnataka would have been the state to begin Chatur Ideas.

India has an incredibly diverse population. How has the affected your consumer base and business?

I believe that this diversity and inclusion is a boon to the startups during their pilot, because it helps identify the pain points at an early stage.

Infrastructure is really important to businesses. How have you seen India’s infrastructure improve recently? Do you see new opportunities opening up?

Due to improvements in infrastructure, couriers and CoD options for e-commerce have been enabled in the most remote regions of India increasing the potential customer base for any business.

This along with the ease of travel across India via air, road or sea has increased business opportunities in Travel, Food & Beverages, Logistics and e-Commerce sector primarily. Additionally, other businesses are affected as well.

What do you want to accomplish in the next 5 years with your business?

Chatur Ideas sees itself as India’s largest startup enabling platform within the next 5 years. We have a target of supporting 50 unicorns in the next 5 years.

And finally, if people want to get involved and learn more about your business, how should they do that?

The Indian policies imparting high tariffs on imports is a boon to the Indian startup ecosystem.

Homegrown industries are supported and encouraged by the government, which provides ample opportunities for Indian entrepreneurs to thrive.

Follow Chatur Ideas on Twitter or Linkedin.

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