How would you like to introduce yourself and your Co-Founder Pratik to our readers?
I have been an entrepreneur since I was just 9 years old when I started a company that sold class management excel workbooks to teachers. I did my college in Economics from Loyola College, Chennai, and then worked with McKinsey and Company before founding MondoBoard with Pratik.
Pratik returned to Mumbai after completing his masters from the University of Illinois and working in the Silicon Valley. He has worked on US defense projects and also with gaming companies like Zynga and IGT.
What does Mondoboard mean?
Mondo means big. The name came when we were trying to keep a domain name which we wanted to be something big. Board came up because all our events are typically pinned on a board. Hence, Mondoboard! It’s supposed to signify big board.
What made you start with Mondoboard and what’s your vision?
I used to play a lot of tennis and basketball when I came to Mumbai a year ago. I didn’t have anyone to play with and I was looking around trying to find people and it took me 6 months to find a tennis partner. Eventually, the more I thought about it I figured out that there are a lot of people who face this challenge. Wherever you’re today and if you are moving to a new city or you are doing something new, you need to build new connections.
What is your “Why” behind your vision?
I really think that as much as social media has made communication easier, it has made people lonelier to a large extent. Because of Facebook and Whatsapp people aren’t physically meeting each other, and hence, people are getting lonelier. So, social media isn’t solving this challenge; it’s actually when you meet people that you’re solving the challenge of loneliness.
My ultimate vision is that anyone who wants to do anything she loves should be able to find a partner on Mondoboard; to leave a legacy behind where no one is left lonely and be a guy who made the world a happier place.
I believe it’s great to make technology which helps people to meet each other. Today, we are making people meet for sports like cycling, basketball, etc., but tomorrow, if someone is fond of painting or other art forms, they could meet each other regularly using Mondoboard.
What’s your definition of an entrepreneur?
An entrepreneur is someone who’s trying to find water in a desert. He’s the leader of people, who is guiding them to find water in a desert. The way I define it is like this – think you are in a desert and there are a bunch of people out of whom none of them can find water. An entrepreneur is the leader of that group who makes them go to a place where they can get water and this group of people is his consumer base.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Building a product that people really love has been a challenge in itself. It is very hard to find out what product we should build that people will love. We have already made 6 versions of our application but we still haven’t really built a product which people truly love.
There are 2 aspects to building a great product:
1) What problem do you wish to solve? This could take a lot of time. It’s hard to identify the right problem.
If Henry Ford went and asked people as to what he should make for them, people would have told him to make a faster horse as they knew that the problem was the current transport wasn’t fast enough. Hence, he built a car.
2) People should love your solution.
Has any funding been done so far?
We are currently bootstrapped. Funders are speaking to us but we aren’t going to raise money for the next 3 months until we get the right product that fits the market.
Can you share your revenue model with us?
Right now we aren’t charging people. But, the way we are going to make it is – whenever an activity is performed it is performed at a particular venue and you need to book a venue. So, we are creating business for them. So, we are going to take a slice of that.
Second way is – sports are highly competitive. Even when we were small we used to play cricket match for money or we used to bet with each other. We plan to make the entire betting process through the application itself. So, we will be taking a small portion of that.
What are yours and Pratik’s responsibilities in the start-up?
Pratik takes care of technology and coding (80% of it). I engage with the users and try to figure out what they want as I understand the user data.
What are the most important traits a person should have to launch a start-up?
1) Knowing your “Why?” – what you want to do keeps changing but ‘why’ really builds inspiration, makes you rush through hard times, makes you work 16 hours a day, 7 days a week.
2) Flexibility and being determined – The biggest mistake one could do is over relying on one’s gut and intuition. You need to be open to what the market is saying and improve or change your product based on the feedback.
See success as FLEXIBILITY × DETERMINATION × LUCK.
Luck could range from anywhere between 0 and 10,000. But, if you are determined to hang in there for long enough luck will obviously become positive at some time or the other; it will come in your favour and you’ll make it big. There’s a famous saying- “If you hang around in a barber shop long enough, sooner or later you will get a haircut“.
3) Hustle – If you want to get through to somebody, are you willing to call her/his receptionist 50 times?, are u willing to go door to door speaking to customers, and probably, being rejected by most of them? Hustle is the will to do it when the outside world says that you shouldn’t do it.
What are the lessons you have learnt so far?
1) Patience – The ability to work hard consistently for long till you get to it.
2) You’ll never have all the skills that you require to do a start-up or get to your vision and there are two ways to accomplish this:
• You can learn those skills. (OR)
• You can create some kind of distortion field, become inspirational and you can draw people with skill sets and make them a part of your vision.
Ideally, it should be a mix of both.
Which is your favourite quote/inspirational statement?
This comes from the movie “Rocky Balboa” when Rocky is speaking to his son, “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place. And, I don’t care how tough you are; it will beat you to your knees and keep you there if you let it. You, me, or nobody is going to hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward.” That’s how I want to do things.
One more thing that I wish to share about how I feel about myself and what I want to do is – I don’t want to be an icon. I want to be an idea. I want to represent possibility. I want to represent hope. I want to represent magic. People think 2+2 is 4. I want to make sure that 2+2 is what I want it to be and I want to make it whatever I want it to be.
What message would you like to impart to our readers?
If you have a vision and a dream and you don’t know how to get it, don’t worry! As long as you know why you want it and you are willing to be there long enough to get there you’ll achieve it for sure. Start working towards it and the answers will come to you.