Dr. Rutu Mulkar

Are you a serious entrepreneur?

entrepreneurship startups

What does it mean to be an entrepreneur or a serious entrepreneur? Often when people find out that I am a tech startup founder, they start asking me questions like — Do you have an office or do you work out of our home? With the default assumption that if you work from home, you are not very serious about what you do. The second question that I am asked is — do you have employees or are you by yourself? Again with the assumption that if you have employees, you are doing well, otherwise you are not. The third question that I am often asked is — do you have external funding? Which basically loosely translates to — does anyone else believe in your idea enough to give you money for it?

All these questions are such moot points for me, that I simply don’t know how to answer them. A tech business where people work in all different timezones and all different times doesn’t really need a brick and mortar office. It might be a requirement when one is selling tangible products like circuit boards. However, I am selling highly specialized software solutions. The second question about FTE’s — no business can be done on your own, you need a group of people that you trust and believe in that will help you push your product and brand forward. Is hiring FTE’s a good way to do this? I don’t know if it is for me — I need the freedom and flexibility to be able to hire people who are experts in their field, for the right project, irrespective of their location. They can be in the remotest corner of the world, for all I care. For a situation like this to work, I need to be in a position where I am not weighted down by the burdens of a brick and mortar office space, where my team is required to show up to every day. I need the flexibility of believing in my team to follow through with their work, and knowing that they will do a good job. I also would like to pay them more or higher than industry standard so that they are motivated to do their best for the company. Having such high standards and requirements, it seems illogical to rent out an office space, when that money could be used more wisely in paying the team, and building out a fine product. Finally, external funding is something that I have never needed. The company has been successful and profitable since inception, primarily because we are a consultancy, and we build very customized AI based solutions for our clients. We do not build a one-size-fits-all solution. We do not have high operation costs, and most of our costs are covered by the client fees. So we are in the perfect position to not requiring any external funding at this point, and have the luxury of being completely bootstrapped.

There are several reasons why one starts a business. The most important reason that I hear is for “disrupting” the world as we see it and for creating something radically new. I have never enjoyed my life being disrupted, and I am not sure if very many people would like disruption either. Why would you want to disrupt the world when you can easily find a joyful place for yourself where you can do exactly what you want to do.

For me, business is created out of self-awareness. A few questions that I have asked myself: What do you want out of your life? The joys of working on what you want to work on? The time to spend with your children and watch them grow? Do you want to dominate the world and rise above the rest and be lonely at the top? or do you want to make a place for yourself in the world, collaborate, communicate and be a better version of yourself?

My answer and direction were simple, and helped me decide what kind of a business I wanted to build for myself and my family. We want to go slowly yet steadily. We are not ready to give up the present in hopes for a fancy tomorrow, but we are willing to work hard and build something fabulous each day, every day.