With twinkling eyes and an impish smile, Prahlad Kakkar lacks the airs that you’d expect from a man of his stature. On the panel of speakers for the Shakti Women Entrepreneurs Meet organized by the India SME Forum, the lunch break offers us the perfect window of opportunity to interact with him. Ready with sharp wit and humour, here are some pearls from the conversation that we had with him.
From an Ad Guru to a director and restaurateur, what has driven your entrepreneurial choices? And how do you measure success?
Well, I’ve never worked a single day in my life. I’ve always done what I wanted to do. I’ve been ruled by passion and that has driven my choices, even when it made little business sense. For me, money has never been a parameter to measure success. I’ve never had and never will have much of it. Happiness for me is the true measure of success.
What as per you is the most crucial part of a venture? Would it be the idea or something else?
A business idea is as good or as bad as a person’s level of determination to take it forward. My idea of starting scuba diving at Lakshadweep was a rotten idea and everyone told me so. However, I was passionate about it and went ahead. We lost money for ten years on the venture and it took me that time to convince people in India that diving is a great sport. I had to single-handedly be the brand ambassador. Now, however, it is coming into profits. So, I’d say that more than the idea it’s the passion that is crucial. Be passionate even if an idea is illogical. Today scuba diving is the venture closest to my heart. My kids grew up on the beach and the ocean has taught them more than any school could.
Entrepreneurship and women, how difficult is the equation?
The odds are often against women. She’s told since her childhood on what isn’t acceptable from her. She faces more rejection and failure than others. Even in the workplace, she’s driven to do twice as better than her male colleagues to prove that she’s good enough. Our historical manuscripts too advocate the supremacy of men over women. However, the odds she faces often helps her develop a built-in resistance and this can make her a great entrepreneur.
Does being in a tier II city limit our opportunities?
I’d say that in fact, you have more opportunities because you’re in a tier II city, as everything you do gets noticed. In a larger city like Mumbai, it’s quite horrifying to see the things people do to get attention. In a city like Visakhapatnam, on the other hand, you have plenty of opportunities at your doorstep.
What would you advice the wannabe entrepreneurs?
Don’t look to your family for support as they can be your biggest enemies. The over 200 women I have trained at my school for entrepreneurship are made to write a letter to their parents on the first day of joining. They’re made to write that after the course they won’t ask their parents for even a single rupee. Also, more importantly, conquer your fears. The negative imagination that comes from fear can be a huge roadblock in your entrepreneurial path. So whether it be fearing snakes or fearing the dark, conquer it. Only when you ride on a wave of adrenaline and take risks, can you feel alive!