Ravi Trivedi Archana Doshi Swapnil Khandewal

The other type of entrepreneur – not glamorous, no showboating, but very effective

There are 3 friends and colleagues I want to highlight today, who I have known for a while now. They are the “hardly” know entrepreneurs. They appear rarely on social media touting their company. They rarely talk about how “difficult” their journey was. They dont mention the “challenges” of work-life balance while being an entrepreneur. They never complain about how “hard it is to raise money”.

The thing they do effectively is run businesses that are growing like weeds. All three of them are running startups that are strong, cash flow positive and showing phenomenal growth, and all turning a profit as well.

These are the “other type” of entrepreneur. Effective, workman-like and focused. Ravi runs a deal site – Coupon Rani, Archana runs a media property called Archana’s kitchen and Swapnil runs a University alumni community site called Alma Connect.

I have known these three entrepreneurs for over 3 years now.

Ravi Trivedi Archana Doshi Swapnil Khandewal
Ravi Trivedi Archana Doshi Swapnil Khandewal

I met Ravi first at a Coffee shop when he was looking to leave the cushy world of Venture capital and start his own company. He and I dabbled starting a company together, but things did not quite work out. He then started coupon rani and has built a good team, shown strong revenue growth and has a few investors now chasing him.

Archana and I met on the plane. She is the spouse of one of my good friends and a few years ago, when I was traveling from Mumbai back to Bangalore, she sat in a seat behind me. Surprising that she noticed, but Rutvik (himself a VC) had me on his Facebook profile, so she noticed my photo and the likeness. She was getting started then as a chef and had some early traffic and is now featured on Television frequently and is a celebrity in her own right.

Swapnil and I met 4 years ago at IIM Ahmedabad, at the CIIE, center for entrepreneurship. My wife and I flew in to meet with 9 entrepreneurs for a day to look at interesting companies to invest in and we were greeted by Swapnil that evening. Alma connect was a way to get Alumni from Universities to connect with their colleges and find ways to support and encourage new students and their younger graduates

I am so honored to be friends with all 3 of them, mostly because they are entrepreneurs who have stuck through the tough times that most of us go through.

They are all solo entrepreneurs.

All three of them have bootstrapped their businesses.

All three of them are running profitable, high growth businesses without a plethora of mentors, advisors, investors and the paraphernalia that young entrepreneurs surround themselves with.

All of them are in businesses that are not glamorous, (well Archana is an exception) and still growing like crazy.

None of them are from IIT, IIM or any other “top schools” that most investors seek in entrepreneurs in India.

There is hope in this world after all.

9 thoughts on “The other type of entrepreneur – not glamorous, no showboating, but very effective”

  1. Glad you covered these entrepreneurs. Have known Archana for a while and it’s fantastic to see the sort of work that she has been doing. Guess it boils down to focus, passion and hard work

  2. Great article. Ravi is from IISc. – Bangalore, IIM – Bangalore (Software mgmt) and Duke (Fuqua). Lot of people in India would consider these as top credentials. You don’t have to downplay his credentials to make your point. Point well taken regardless.

  3. Take a look at managementparadise.com . Solo entrepreneur, boot strapped venture, decade old and host a huge network of web communities around education

  4. Thanks Mukund,

    Feels really good to see that others are bootstrapping their business and making them grow. The journey’s been hard for us as well, and it’s kind of crazy to see how young entrepreneurs look at us in India when we say we’re bootstrapping, like we are kind of crazy.

    BTW, I just met a serial entrepreneur from Houston today, who was from a very modest background, dropped out of school at 16. As of today, he’s had 2 successful exits with his 2 first companies and is running a 3rd very promising one. I’m thinking high education can certainly help open doors, but it is definitely not what makes a good entrepreneur.

  5. @mukund Celebrating entrepreneurs who’ve bootstrapped and built real businesses solving real often undeserved problems is critical and thanks for making it happen with this post.

    It is great that you clearly call out “most investors in India seek from IIT, IIM or any other “top schools…. ” This is something we don’t challenge enough – both in person and in writing particularly in the Indian entrepreneurial scene. If we were to replace top tier school as MAN and not IIT/IIM as woman, we’d be pummelled — Leela is successful despite being a woman is effectively what we’d be saying, or at least that we often hear Indian investors say and they are not being called out on it.

    This in many ways to me is like someone announcing that they are NOT sexist or racist – and my first response to that is if you have to say it, then maybe you have to dig deeper into your own motivations. This deeply ingrained (dare I say) classist posture in the Indian startup scene and we need to do more to address it. I’m not sure everyone who reads your piece would see it the same way. Keep on blazing.

  6. Liked one end statement.. None of them are from IIT or IIM’s or none of the top schools.. Apriciate for highlighting this point Mukund.Many like me born and bought up in small village and settled in cities not really known about importance of education Or about B schools..Its just because of guidance and exposure.. What most of them are facing. One thing is that success is not limited to only IIM or IIT’s ..Thanks once agin for great write up..

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