Learnings from Jagriti Yatra - Manish Kothari

During the Yatra I met mentors who came in to advise entrepreneurs. Manish from Anand/ Gujarat stood out. He runs Rhino machines and has decades of experience as both an incubated org as well as advisor/mentor at UNIDCO, UNCTAD, CII, Plastic association etc.

Sharing my notes:

  • What is needed at different layers of ecosystem vs what the organisers think is needed ends up having big gaps from the beginning. Unless the helpers align, such programs risk being more relevant to media than the last mile entrepreneurs and value chain.
  • Most orgs start from supply side help and look at demand as the last leg. His culture is to be demand led and unless he has contractural agreements to buy, he would not build. In the startup circles i have heard of this as “minimum viable market” vs “minimum viable product” way of thinking.
  • From the business theory of 5Ms - man, machine, material, market, money he said that man and material has no non-local replacement. People with good daily recurring behaviour of founder is often the critical factor in scaling more businesses. He urged us to work most on the people part as a great plan and help ecosystem can fail unless well executed and anchored by a person. He mentioned that businesses don’t trust businesses but people. This behaviour part comes even before knowledge. As examples - he mentioned how a more outgoing positive person will seek customers on their own, deeply listen and tweak the model to fit the local conditions or find alternate propositions. He mentioned checks to test for such behaviour and said he explores triggers that can expand this capacity.
  • First time founders in new value chains have less than 5% chance of success, but when founders are paired with the right practitioners, the success rates go up to 95%. Here a practitioner is someone who has worked in the field for 8-10 years and brings in knowledge of geography, market and vendors thereby helping build right partnerships while avoiding pitfalls. They should partner in the same value chain as businesses with profit and loss exposure… else the practitioner does not have any real skin in game and becomes an advisor who can say anything.
  • He honestly asks if there is anything innovative here, and urged the courage to back off till there is something new. The new thing should be simultaneously better, cheaper and faster than what prevails in the market today.
  • The more we help externally via subsidies, gap filling, friendlier market connects etc the more we weaken the model. The best money is the customers money.

He is keen on circular economics and is perhaps going to advise Jagriti folks setup an apparel unit in Deoria. He mentioned he could give us bandwidth to brainstorm as he wants to learn more about what we are doing from the ecology angle and wants to help his village become green via businesses.


Thank you @abhishektiwari for capturing from your lens.

For me - you are my customer, and what is important is are you able to relate to what I shared with you - and i can say, yes there is a lot that you have been able to capture.

We only need to step back and revisit our “Gurukul” - experiential learning system, which had a senior practitioner (Dhronacharya) training a new entrant (Arjun or Eklavya) by demonstration. They taught theory, and related theory to practice.

Entrepreneurship in my experience is not different from Gurukul system that we have been following for centuries, and now presented to us as an “high cost specialsed” School syllabus to us. This means that the system we built was in the right direction, and there is an intrinsic intellectual capital India posesses, has shared with the seekers who came to India.

Like the value chain of education, sometimes the shishya may move ahead of the guru, but then the guru takes pride in it, rather than being jealous. Humility is a core value that a guru may possess, which allows him or her to continue to share their experience through demonstration.

In the modern times, https://unctad.org/system/files/official-document/diaeed20093_en.pdf - this one such program which to me has the essence of gurukul, where one may read the behaviours, but may need a practitioner “guru” to help understand and internalize the same.

I invite you to read about it, reflect on the same.

Who is the first customer and perhaps the most ignored one - YOU
It is he who feeds you and builds you
The second customer perhaps maybe your parents or ecosystem around you - THEY ARE INVESTED IN YOUR WELL BEING (SUCCESS)

Once we are able to understand this, internalize, all the other things may follow as one may start looking at what it may take to sustain.