The prospects of doing what you love, building something meaningful and making it big lure many people into the world of entrepreneurship. However, business is hard, especially if you're trying to launch a company from scratch. ITProPortal got together with Poojan Kumar, the co-founder and CEO of PernixData to find out what it takes to make it as a successful entrepreneur.
What inspired you to launch PernixData?
I'm a big believer in building something that simplifies life – especially for IT administrators. My inspiration to create something for enterprises around the world stems from my experience working with VMware, where we were trying to solve key industry issues in a simple way.
Would you describe yourself as a startup?
We're now a global company with over 100 employees but, despite our growth, we're still a startup company in spirit.
How have you found the process of building a company from scratch?
Challenging but rewarding. When you are trying to grow, you need to let other folks take certain things over. As the business expands, you have to spread responsibility. There is this constant evolution and it's important to really know what you're getting into. The hardest part is managing a growing number of employees, while making sure you are still thinking ahead and planning your next steps.
The ability to innovate and build something from scratch into something large has been a strength of mine from the very beginning. I'm not afraid of the challenges of entrepreneurship, the two biggest ones being the fear of the unknown and having to head into uncharted territory and execute at break-neck speeds.
Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart, and fearlessness is a trait that I am very proud to have.
What were your biggest challenges?
The biggest challenge that we're currently experiencing is that, as we grow, the culture of people owning particular divisions adapts slightly. It is important to keep employees happy, especially when the company is scaling.
Do you think it's more difficult to launch a B2B startup than a consumer-focused one?
Not really – they both have their challenges. Consumer-focused startups can grow quickly, as the decisions involved are purely those of individual users, whereas a B2B company differs when the idea first takes off. In this age of social media, word travels very fast, which can have a particularly negative impact on B2C businesses, should things go wrong. Enterprise companies tend to fall at a slower rate.
What are the main differences between San Francisco's Silicon Valley and London's Silicon Roundabout?
My recent visit to east London reminded me a lot of Silicon Valley, where we are headquartered. In both environments, innovation, collaboration, and hard work are rewarded with success. I look forward to finding out what the future holds – in London's Tech City, in Silicon Valley and across the globe.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?
When scaling a company, there are a lot of things that you don't know. Every company is very different and the reality is that there are so many unknowns. Starting any business from scratch is a massive learning curve, where you discover the answers as you go along. It is important to rely on your gut and current circumstances.
What's the best piece of advice you could offer a budding entrepreneur?
The best advice I have ever received is to be relentless when I want something and to give it my all, all the time. In my past, I was a very successful Indian national chess player, and am a successful poker player today. Both of these games are about going all-in and choosing a path, heading down that path, and never looking back.
I follow this motto not only in chess and poker, but also in my everyday life. There is only one way to achieve a dream you have – you have to give it your all to reach your goal. You will always meet naysayers as you go along the path to accomplishing your dreams, but once you have chosen your target, give it everything you have, and give it everything all the time – perseverance is key.
One of my mentors at Oracle gave me this tip. I have seen that when I completely focus myself on a target and give it everything I have, things have always worked out for me. All of my past successes are a testament to the results of following this advice and I am eternally grateful for my mentor for this.
To conclude, I would advise all budding entrepreneurs to not waste time observing others, as this has nothing to do with how the world thinks. Really go for your dreams – after all, it doesn't do anyone any harm!