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TEDx MITE 2019: Sreevathsa Prabhakar on 6 Cs of Entrepreneurship


"Every year, 1000 remarkable people gather in one place to exchange something of incalculable value: Their Ideas.

What happens there has never been shared. Until Now."

This is a familiar epithet that you may have come across while watching some of the most inspirational talks on YouTube. Yes, we're talking about TED Talks. TED began as a nonprofit conference in 1984, where chosen speakers from Technology, Entertainment and Design spoke about the most innovative ideas. 

Local communities and organisations also arrange similar talks in affiliation to TED. These are known as TEDx events, which celebrate locally-driven ideas. Planned and executed independently, their mission is to elevate localised ideas to a global stage. The Mangalore Institute of Technology (MITE) is one such institute which hosts a TEDx talk each year. Our founder and CEO Sreevathsa Prabhakar was invited to speak at this year's event.

Sreevathsa is a true Entrepreneur at heart, so his choice of topic should not come as a surprise. He spoke about the 6 Cs of Entrepreneurship and if you're curious to know what they are then here's the entire transcript from his talk:

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen! With great happiness, I am speaking in front of you today about my learnings as an entrepreneur.

Stephen Covey, the famous author, once wrote, "There are three constants in life... change, choice and principles".

Change & Choice are easy to understand. You would have heard this a thousand times throughout your lifetimes - phrases like “Change is hard” or “Your life choices will define you.” And I am sure you, who are way smarter than I was at your age, would understand this.

The third constant, Principles, however, is slightly harder to explain. Especially in this carefree age. What I can tell you though, is that, your values & principles will propel you forward or maybe, hold you back. Trust me when I say this, there isn't much that separates all of us; yet, there is a lot.

So, coming to entrepreneurship, let me tell you one thing which most would agree. The moment you decide to become one, there's no looking back. You will have no option but to morph into a far better version of yourself to be successful. The aspects I have encountered with my choice of becoming an Entrepreneur have consolidated my core principles. I call them the 6 Cs of Entrepreneurship, and I'd like to take you through them today.

1. Curiosity

Let me start with something that you will immediately relate to. Something as students, you are naturally gifted with. Being curious.

My favourite mental model for instilling curiosity is the "Five Why's" framework. Ask "why" until you get to the most basic unit of any concept. First principle's thinking.

When I say being curious, it is not about just knowing the status of a temporary situation. It's about getting your fundamentals right. For example, as kids we would ask so many questions; like, "why is the sky blue" or "why should I go to school" or "why teacher gives us homework", but as we grow our curiosity levels tend to drop significantly as we feel we know a lot already, or we are shy to ask. This is where our learnings end. It's not about finding an answer by googling, but by knowing it yourself. Be a life-long student. Be curious.

2. Clarity

When you are insanely curious, you learn. The result is clarity of your thoughts. So. in this context, clarity is all about being certain of how your vision plays out as an entrepreneur. It could be a certain impact you want your idea to have. It could be a certain size for your organisation or a certain monetary number you are targeting, or solving a certain problem thereby having an impact on society. Could be all of the above as well. But decide. And be ridiculously clear about it.

To give you an example, when Jeff Bezos puts out his annual shareholders letter, he also attaches his original Year 1 letter. When you read both, you realise that in spirit, little has changed in the outlook of the company towards its goals. Amazon still is all about an insane obsession about its customers. Come what may.

3. Commitment

Once you have your goals cut out, commit to them like your life depends on it. It’s your contract with not just the world outside but well within you as well. How committed you are will determine your success.

Let me give you an example. Steve Jobs was diagnosed with cancer in 2003. Now let’s count the number of products he launched after that. iPhone, iPad, MacBook Air, App Store. Each one of them redefined what people came to expect of a “gadget”. Computing power was truly democratised by this very commitment to delight customers with products so easy to use that, even little kids could use them. Late last year, Apple became the first company in the world to reach a trillion dollars in valuation. Even after he’s been gone for more than a few years now.

To quote him, “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right”. So, live your day as if it’s your last day when you are an entrepreneur. That’s the true commitment to your own self, and people who believe you.

4. Conviction

If I were to pick a favourite amongst this list for myself, it would have to be conviction. Because this is what gets you out of your bed every morning. A certain belief in your goals, your ideal that moves the needle forward.

Conviction is also what helps when things aren’t going right for you. For when your demo fails in an important client meeting or some team member gives you a tough time by not meeting your expectations of them.

Try and identify this world-renowned author, if you can

  • Her book draft was rejected by 12 publishers
  • She was going through a divorce
  • Her mother had died around the same time
  • She was living on government subsidies all through this time as they had no other income

That’s right, it’s JK Rowling.

Today she’s one of the most renowned entertainers, with her books being marked as necessary reading even a decade after release. Many generations have been captivated by the magical universe that she created. Harry Potter is one such example.

To me, that is the power of conviction. She did not change her story even when faced with great odds. Because she believed in herself and what she produced. Building an enterprise has many parallels with Rowling’s story. Honestly, your conviction is the biggest funding round you’ll ever have.

5. Courage

Fortune truly favours the brave. That’s something you would have heard time & again, but everybody on this planet who has challenged the status quo has had no other option but to be incredibly brave and courageous. Let’s take few examples here:

  • Jeff Bezos ran Amazon for nearly 15 years without posting a profit and today they are bigger than all American retail companies put together, both in terms of size and the profits they make.
  • Elon Musk took all the money he got from selling PayPal and put it into Tesla & SpaceX; path-breaking organisations that keep pushing the boundaries of what’s possible every single day.
  • Our amazing scientists conducted nuclear tests at Pokhran despite being watched very closely by American satellites.
  • Mr. Mukesh Ambani, when he decided that Indians should have access to the best data network at the lowest prices, globally.
  • Great things happen when you want to challenge the norm, be rebellious and break new ground. Dream big, be bold and don’t let anybody belittle your ambitions.

6. Conquer

Lastly, the final C is about the final step. The final over of a cricket match; the last leg of a long journey. And the one where all 6 Cs need to be in place - so that you can conquer the world and establish your foothold. It's never an easy journey but that feeling you get once you've achieved it, is indescribable. And once you've tasted the success, you will know why all the sweat and hard work was worth it; why some sacrifices had to be made, why some decisions felt necessary and others trivial. If you can conquer the fears you have and move beyond them, there is little to stop you from enjoying the fruitful journey that is life.

So, don't settle for what you already know. Never stop believing in the power of your ideas, your imagination, your hard work to change the world. Believe in the 6Cs, and you will be successful in your entrepreneurial journey.

Thank you for listening to me. Have a good day!

Watch the full video of the keynote here: