We decided to get our hands on Rajesh Jain's 'Startup to Proficorn'. The founder of two successful Proficorn ventures spanning over 30 years, the book intends to guide budding entrepreneurs to sail through the stormy seas of the business world.
Seeing many businesses earning handsomely and social media posts making a secure 9-to-6 job seem like slavery, almost every individual thinks that starting their own business is the key to wealth, vacations, and financial independence. While all of that may be true to an extent, the road to the perks that an enterprise offers its entrepreneur is not an easy one. The journey to success for an enterprise may include debts, challenges, and uncertainties, demanding a certain level of commitment. Rajesh Jain, an entrepreneur who achieved notable success by selling 'Indiaworld,' a privately owned and funded enterprise, to Satyam Infoway for $100 million in 1999, has simplified the journey for aspiring entrepreneurs in his book, 'Proficorn to Startup.' The book serves as a guide for young entrepreneurs aiming to start their own 'Proficorn.' Given our repeated use of this term, you might be wondering: What is a Proficorn? Rajesh Jain defines it as a company that is private, bootstrapped, and scaled to a value of over $100 million or more, citing examples of other popular Proficorns like Zerodha, Zoho, Ferns and Petals, and Cleartrip, which can be found throughout the book.
The book takes you along Rajesh’s journey through the business world, from creating and navigating Indiaworld with private capital and using profitability as the driver for the venture’s growth, to selling the venture for a whopping 100 million in 1999, starting his second venture called Netcore, and stepping down as the CEO for the company's betterment. The book emphasizes that the first step to building any successful business is identifying a problem in the market and introducing a solution. In our interview, Rajesh elaborates on how, during the time he built Indiaworld, he recognized the internet as a pathway to connect the globe. Recognizing that Indians abroad may not be able to connect to the news and content from India, he thought about a model that would help NRIs find the information they needed. Furthermore, the book emphasizes using optimism and creativity to navigate challenges and setbacks, trying out different ideas in the uncertain and dynamic world of business. You’ll also find exclusive stories from the founders of other proficorns, like Pawan Gadia, the CEO of Ferns and Petals, The Pitti Brothers from EaseMyTrip, and Rajdip Gupta from RouteMobile.
Rajesh also emphasizes the significance of people in building an enterprise. He mentions the roles of his wife Bhawna, who handled the operations, Manish Shaw in content, Sumit Jain who handled the technological part, and Abhijeet in building India World. He shares the incredible story of Kiran and Ganesh, saying, "They started as peons at our company but were responsible for the entire khel section coverage, seen by our readers, as they would watch the cricket matches at night and then update the website," along with the sweet story of his aunt Saroj, who wrote the recipes for the Bawarchi section, which seems to have become a big hit.
Although the book highlights that a privately funded proficorn, which uses its profits for growth, overcomes the challenges of other models, managing to bring enough personal capital and obtain sustained profitability might be easier said than done. While the flow of the book can be a bit slow, intertwined, and repetitive at times, the optimistic tone, along with the stories and revelations about the venture and others, helps keep the reader hooked. Along with that, readers will find abbreviations for several technical business terms, which will help them better understand these terminologies and their significance and applications. One of our favorite parts of the book is when Rajesh lets readers see a different side of him, elaborating on his personal experiences, accepting his flaws, overcoming them, and how all of that shaped him into the person he became. This can help readers relate better to the human being behind the entrepreneur. Overall, the book provides its readers and budding entrepreneurs an informative journey for those who wish to gather highly valuable information, insights, and perspectives, regardless of whether they succeed in building a highly valuable enterprise.