Time to delve into the world of multi-faceted entrepreneur, Vishwas Mudagal, and find out what makes him tick from a personal and financial standpoint.
Unlike some other popular entrepreneurs, Vishwas Mudagal is approachable, has no airs and loves to help others. He dons many hats; he is a successful serial entrepreneur, a CEO of a reputed firm, author of a best-selling book, an angel investor and motivational speaker. Phew!
He received the ‘Star Entrepreneur Award’ at the Indira India Innovation Summit 2011 in recognition of his contribution to entrepreneurship and innovation. He was also named among the Top 11 personalities of Bangalore by Deccan Chronicle in 2014.
Vishwas co-founded GoodWorkLabs, which has become a multi-million dollar company growing at 500% year-on-year. It was awarded the 5th fastest growing company by Deloitte Fast 50, 2016.
Writing is his passion and he has embraced storytelling as his parallel career. ‘Losing My Religion’ was his debut novel, which has become a sensational bestseller and is billed as a must-read for every professional/student/entrepreneur. Now, over to Vishwas!
How challenging was it to become an entrepreneur? Was it easy at all?
I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur. My first entrepreneurial venture was during my college days when I had started a computer business. I went on to start my own company Jobeehive in 2011, which was an employer review website.
So, to answer your question, becoming an entrepreneur was the most natural thing that happened to me. However, the challenging part of my entrepreneurial journey has always been in bringing the right people together. It could be either your founding team or your employees. It is very important that your first hires are aligned to your vision. Remember, birds of the same feather flock together.
However, when I founded GoodWorkLabs along with my co-founder Sonia Sharma, the engines for a ripe success were in place. GoodWorkLabs is today a world-leading Outsourced Product Development Company and UX Design Studio, where we build Software, Mobile Apps, Games and work on AI, Big Data and Machine Learning technologies. From a 6 member team in 2014, today we are a 100+ strong team with offices in Bangalore, Kolkata, San Francisco and New York. The formula was simple – We wanted to build great products and that helped us groom and hire the best talent and minds in the industry.
At GoodWorkLabs, we have grown at 500% year-on-year and have been ranked as the 5th fastest growing tech company in India by Deloitte Fast 50 Awards. Today, we are one of the most premium brands in the tech space.
In 2017 we also branched out into the Co-working sector and founded GoodWorks CoWork, a flourishing co-working space for Startups in Whitefield, Bangalore, which was a runaway success. We now have plans to extend the same community across India.
So yes, entrepreneurship has never been a challenge, it has always been my passion. It’s my way of living and making a difference in the world.
Did you save up before you became an entrepreneur? Do you think people who are going the start-up way need to do this?
Yes, I strongly believe that one must always save up for a rainy day. When I started up, I had also invested a part of my savings in my business and then also raised a small round of funds from friends and family. It is always safer to start off this way instead of seeking funds outside. You should also look to raise a small round of funds from friends and family.
Also, I would suggest to moon-light your business venture first while you are still in a job. This way, you are conscious of a steady flow of income in the initial stages of your startup. Once your idea is tested and validated, you can go all in by quitting your job and finances will also be stronger.
Did you ever have tough times? What did you do during that period? How did you handle your finances?
Everyone goes through tough times and I also had my share of failures. When my first company JobeeHive shut down, I was completely broke. I was both emotionally and financially down. But I did not let my failures get to me. Very shortly, I got the opportunity to work as a CEO for a Canadian company and then things just changed. Financial situations got steadier.
Also, during the early years of entrepreneurship, you may or may not be able to draw a salary. However, ensure that you invest some part of your savings so that you have something to fall back on during unfortunate times.
In this video here, I tell you in detail about my failures and how I converted them into a success story.
Why did you decide to write ‘Losing My Religion’? Will you be writing more novels?
The book is influenced by an episode in my life that changed everything. In 2009, my Internet start-up was going through a rough phase. Although we had managed to get good user traction to our website, we couldn’t monetize it effectively. To top it all, the core team had almost dismantled and I was almost bankrupt. It had taken a heavy toll on me emotionally and I didn’t know what to do next.
After spending two years working my behind off on this business, it wasn’t easy to just move on. And I didn’t have the energy and the money to start a new business. One day I spoke to an ex-colleague, who was taking a sabbatical and going on a year-long journey on his bike across India. I was amazed! I wanted to do that myself and kill all the tension inside me and then look at everything else later on. But I couldn’t do it for many reasons.
A bizarre idea struck me – to write a book on the situation I was in. I was so excited suddenly. Usually, I follow my heart and act on instinct. So, I decided to make the protagonist of the book go on a journey; I could live that life and that freedom through him. On May 22, 2009, I wrote the first chapter, and, I’d like to believe, my life changed.
Writing is my passion. I stumbled upon being an author by chance. My next book, which is a trilogy, is all set to hit stores by the end of 2018 and it is more of a sci-fi novel. I am super excited about this new trilogy.
What is that one thing that can help people lead a happy life – financially and otherwise?
People usually think realizing dreams or being happy is either about success, becoming rich or becoming famous. But they are terribly wrong. In my opinion, realising dreams is all about following a path that you truly love and are passionate about.
It is not a fixed point but a journey. This journey would most definitely have ups and downs, tears, twists and turns. But that’s what’s going to make it fascinating, like an adventure! Not many understand this truth in life.
I didn’t either. I’ve had to learn it the hard way. I faced many failures but was quick to realise that a path to bounce back was not to sweat about it but to fall in love with that journey itself. The only way you could continue realising your dreams is to find what you love and follow it.
To find what you love, you must experiment. Don’t care a damn about the world. You are not here to seek their approval. You are here to write your story! Yes, you are the HERO of YOUR story! Be focused on your journey, passion, and learning. There is too much noise out there and it’s deafening. Don’t give others the right to define your success.
No one gets to judge you because this is your story and you will write it however damn well it pleases you! Be the hero!
Do you think one should plan their life or take life as it comes? Why?
If you want something, you need to work towards it. But here is my take on life – Most people are stuck in the past or fixated on the future, but never live their present. They complain about their past, blame their bad luck or others for what happened to them. We forget that we cannot do anything about the past. We need to learn from the events/mistakes from our past and take the right decisions in the present because our future will depend on what we do RIGHT NOW! That’s how we can correct what we have done in our past.
I get reminded of a dialogue from Alex, a carefree hippie, in my novel Losing My Religion. He says- ‘Our past is glorious or screwed up or both. But who cares? Life ain’t about our past; it’s never been & will never be. You know how I roll, right . . . not thinkin’ about my future & not givin’ a damn about my past. Or rather I accept my past. I neither rejoice nor mourn it. The sooner you get this, the better it’s gonna be for you.’
Why do you think some entrepreneurs stop trying after the first time? Is it because of lack of funds or fear of failure?
I think the biggest limitation one can create for himself is in his own mind. Fear of failure creates a sense of anxiety and doubt and you start questioning every decision that you take. Lack of funds is a problem, but it is never the reason for an entrepreneur to stop trying. If he is really passionate about his idea, he will go to any extent to make things happen. The real fuel for entrepreneurship is courage. If one has the courage to take the risk, to give it one more chance, then nothing can stop him or her.
How important is it to invest a part of what you earn? What kind of investments would you recommend?
It is very important that you start investing early and save up for a rainy day. As much as your company is important, it is also important that you ensure your personal and family’s financial security. Remember that your savings need to beat inflation. Create a diverse investment portfolio for yourself. Make a mix of real estate, bullion, Mutual Funds, equity and Fixed Deposits.
Given that you are an engineer and have previously taken steps to promote computer education, what do you think about the use of technology in finance and the Digital India movement?
I strongly feel that technology empowers any business or industry. It is safe to say that without technology no industry will exist in the future.
With Fintech on the rise, it only speaks about the volumes of innovation that is possible. From introducing Net Banking to now encouraging customers to use e-wallets such as PayTm, and cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoins finding their way, everything is going to be digital in the near future.
I am personally a big advocate of the Digital India movement and I see it as the future. With technologies such as AI, Machine Learning, Big Data, Blockchain technology on the rise, it is only time that companies embrace them. At GoodWorkLabs, we have worked with both FinTech Startups and Fortune 500 companies in Finance and Banking sectors to help them create path-breaking solutions.
You have started a co-working space. What are the advantages of working in a co-working space? Does it improve productivity?
Yes, we started GoodWorks CoWork, a design inspired co-working space in Bangalore, Whitefield in 2017 and we are a strong and vibrant community of startups, MNCs, and freelancers. The biggest advantage of working in a co-working space is that you get the chance to network. It adds diversity to your work life and you learn the magic of collaboration.
As businesses with very definite budgets, co-working can be an economical choice for office space. You don’t need to worry about admin and operations, and can fully focus on your product development or sales strategy.
And yes, co-working definitely helps improve productivity. At GoodWorks CoWork we tell our clients to only focus on their business and to leave the rest to us. We take care of all the admin and operations and regularly organize events, mentorship events, networking opportunities and also fun activities. All this helps motivate them and also ensure that they focus on creating awesome products/businesses.
How important is it to be a part of a community, especially if you are an entrepreneur?
As an entrepreneur, it is very important that you are part of product groups, VC groups, NASSCOM and many other mentoring communities that can help you constantly iterate your business process. Also, it is very important that you speak to your customers and get real-time feedback on your products and services.
Gone are those days when it was a privilege to be unreachable and unapproachable. It used to be the fashion before. That’s pretty much over now. The new ‘successful’ people are ridiculously approachable. They listen to everyone and respond to genuine messages. They even reach out to anyone who they think can add value.
The ‘new’ hotshot is a person who mingles with people and figures out a way to make sense of all their connections. They make use of this powerful web of people to get jobs, crack deals or influence policies, ultimately becoming successful in their field.
As a professional, it’s your priority task to ensure you create a network that you can count on. So, stop feeling awkward about networking and start spending 30 minutes every day connecting/ talking to people. Help people with your knowledge/domain expertise. It might feel pointless to start with but in a few years, you will become a powerhouse.
Check out https://www.vishwasmudagal.com/ for more inspiration. And if you have questions about investments and finance, we are always around!