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Serial Entrepreneur Club – EP76: ‘The Art of Strategy’ for Entrepreneurs


You’re listening to the Serial Entrepreneur Club Hour. Today we are talking about the Art of War for Startups. Uh, this is a book that I read, I think when I was 16 years old.

I was very fascinated by it. I know it’s about 2,500 years old and, uh, it’s gonna be a very interesting session because we’ve been lucky to get Rucha Josh on who did an analysis and did a really cool article on the internet. If you search the Art of War for Startups, her article will pop up on the internet.

and, uh, it’s just very cool. So we’ll jump right into it, but if you’re in the audience and you wanna participate in this conversation, this is Friday afternoon, right? So we just love to have people up on stage and chat about it. We’re gonna cover about seven [00:01:00] lessons, uh, that she has learned from the Art of War for Startups.

We’ll go through each of those lessons and have a discussion about, um, some of the things that, uh, are, are in the, uh, each lesson teaches us. I’m actually driving right now. Internet’s not the best, so hopefully it will get better at a few minutes. I’m getting closer to Fort Lauderdale, um, coming across Alligator Alley.

And Michele, my co-moderator is with me right now, but she’s driving, so that’s why she’s not on the session, but she’s going to listen in. All right. Very good. So hitting it right down the gate, Rucha like, can you talk to us a little bit about the history of the book itself and then we’ll jump into your seven lessons.

Yes, sure, definitely. Um, the art war is something that has lived through thousands of years, and when I first read it, uh, I, uh, I started reading the book as if something that is, that would be helpful for geopolitics. Something that [00:02:00] we discussed last week as well. That when you read the book, all you gonna, uh, see is, you know, strategies about enemies, troops, weapons, and battlefields.

But when you really start appreciating its step, you would see that the strategies that I’m mentioned in this book called the Arab War, they are actually applicable to your everyday lives and as well as, uh, your businesses, be it startups or msms, or even if you are a sportsperson. Or even if, when you are a writer.

So that is what compelled me or inspired me to write the article. And that article is the reason why I’m here speaking in front of you or wonderful people. So that is what I, That’s very cool. Yeah. Very cool. And, uh, you know, I, I, I think it’s one of the books that, um, is required reading for [00:03:00] MBAs as well.

Jeff, have you ever read The Art of War in your, in the past? I have not, um, read the whole book, but I’ve read various excerpts of it in articles and, um, other places over the years, but I’ve not actually read the whole thing. Yeah, I know. It’s just, it’s so applicable. You know, I think about, you know, one of the common Sun Sue makes is, uh, as spy is worth as much as a a, an army and in business, you know, understanding.

I’m not suggesting we go spy on our competitors. We do this all the time, all of our companies, we do this, We’re looking at, you know, for, for instance,, we’re looking at products that we can launch. So we go to Kickstarter and we, we go to different places like that to try to learn or get inspired or go to trade shows, to get inspired to build or design our own products that are better and, and, and more functional.

Um, and we know that others do that with us, that a lot of [00:04:00] people have copied, even though we have patents on a number of our products, we’ve been copied and, uh, we’ve seen them for sale in the store. So I just thought that was an interesting one right there. But let’s hit your first lesson, r check.

If you could do it in about, you know, 60 seconds. Just tell us what the first lesson is and then we’ll have an open conversation about that lesson and how it applies to business.

Yeah, sure. Colin. Uh, the first lesson I would say is, you know, you know, summarizing the entire book is, uh, it is about how to fight. And how your battle, the battle which you’re doing could be, uh, at a road to your rain or your face, or how you should take it ahead to make it a win. You know, how you would emerge victorious with the strategies you would, uh, imply on your battlefield.

So in other words, I wouldn’t call it the Book of War, but [00:05:00] instead it is about the book of strategies and understanding the root of any issues and how you would use the knowledge that you gather to find the solution for those issues and win. And, uh, you know, it is also about psychology, ethics, and, you know, using leadership and different strategies in a concise and strict manner.

So that is, uh, you know, that is how I would summarize the entire book, and that would be my, uh, first lesson as well. Because when we speaking in terms of startups or business as well, because what would be the end goal of any entrepreneur? Uh, if you are a business owner, your goal would be to have the largest market share.

And it doesn’t matter which industry you are in, you will always have someone who is ready to take your position and it is nothing less [00:06:00] than a wall. And you need to have your strategies in place to ensure that you stay there and you stay there for a really long time. Yeah. So the one we’re looking at here on the, um, on the site is, uh, attack at unfunded areas.

Uh, is that lining up with what you were talking about there with the first lesson? It’s like the strategy and it’s really trying to figure out, okay, we know other businesses have these products, so we don’t wanna go directly head on with that company. What we wanna do is we want to create something that is unique and different that can compete with them because they’re not as strong.

But if there’s a company that dominates, you know, let’s say for instance they dominate the tablets, it’s Apple. Like, are we gonna take them on? No. Right. Um, can we come up with a niche or a different product that works [00:07:00] such as a remarkable too, the way Remarkable came up with their products, um, because they didn’t have a good notepad system in the iPad.

Does that sort of describe it, Richard? Oh, yes, yes. When I talk about attacking the unfunded area. Okay, I’m back to the article. Now. I have the different things prepared for this session, but if you’re gonna mention those seven strategies, I do have an. Uh, my screen right now, I’m looking at the article, and when I say attack at the un defended area, what I’m talking about is that if you read The Art of War, if you have written the book, uh, you’ve read the book, you would know that it is all about finding the ness of your enemies and, uh, you know, not the, you want, uh, win by attacking this strong position because they’re already strong there.

And if you are losing, uh, if you’re gonna do a battle that you know you gonna lose, it makes [00:08:00] no sense. Uh, instead what we can do is we can find, uh, areas, but they are weak. And use those areas for your own advantage. And that’s how you attack the unfunded area. Let’s just say there is this one company who offers this amazing product, but the customer service is not at the par.

Or, you know, there are some areas where they’re not very good, but they were not able to, you know, uh, make a wow factor for their customers. And this is something you get the advantage of. Uh, and that is what I mean when I say attack. Un. Yeah. Any thoughts, Jeff, or audio? You just wanna pop out there on this attack?

The undefined areas. Uh, any thoughts about that topic? I mean, I think, um, just, just thinking about it from, from war, you know, physical war’s point of view, I mean, it’s really looking at where are the weak points geographically to in territory and, and [00:09:00] in business That could mean, you know, where are products, where are your competitors selling their products versus where is there a need for those products?

And they’re not being sold there yet. So you can, you can take over that territory, which would be a weak territory from your competitor’s point of view, cuz they’re not in that area. And that could be regionally, that could be going into a retailer if you’re selling a, a retail product, maybe going into a retailer where those products.

Um, typically sold, um, just so for example, just to give an example from company that I’m the CMO of our beds are, are very design focused. They don’t look like a typical dog bed. They look like a beautiful area rug. So we have the opportunity to sell our beds in home decor stores and places where, you know, dog beds are not typically sold.

So instead of being one of a hundred different dog beds in a pet store, we might be the only dog bed being sold in a home design store, you know, or a furniture store. So that would give us, uh, [00:10:00] an edge in that territory and we would be, I think as, as you say, roha, we would be attacking the unfunded area In that example, and you actually attacked Canada too, like you, you expanded into Canada and from what I know is we seem to actually have stronger sales, uh, in Canada because there’s just so much less competition as well.

Um, so that, that’s interesting. Uh, you know, just story and how it applies are, are we on the right track? Rucha theory? Uh, yes, definitely we are on the right track. And often, uh, the mistake, uh, entrepreneurs make is that, you know, instead of, uh, attacking the unfunded areas, they just go through secluded areas where there is, it’s like a solution looking for a problem, and there are just not enough customers.

Let’s just say you are attacking a land which has absolutely no value. It would also [00:11:00] make no sense. Just because it is unfunded, it, uh, doesn’t mean that, uh, uh, you know, it is something that you can easily win because even if you do win that area, The position value would not make any sense because you are not getting anything out of it.

So it is, it is always a best strategy to look for opportunities where the competi, uh, competition is less or where your competitors are very weak. So that is something, uh, that would ensure your success, uh, where enemies are D and you know, that are, that is demand. Uh, and that’s how you win a market.

That’s interesting cuz in the two thousands, you know, company called Utopia that we founded, uh, we had had a competition from Google. Um, they had a site design product as well. And uh, in 2012 we went up [00:12:00] against ver assignment by launching an alternate, which And we were able to actually, Find our niche.

We found enough market, like you say, you have to have enough market to survive, but we found enough market, um, in audio. Did you have any thoughts on this topic before we jump to the second, uh, lesson about art of war? Well, well just about art of war or about the lesson, about this idea of attacking undefended territory?

Yeah, I mean, the metaverse or the internet, uh, is still like, uh, you know, attackable and, um, you know, just geotagging on Instagram as a strategy or a tactic to me is like profound because you can introduce content into, uh, geo tags on Instagram that have nothing to do with the location. So if there’s like a, you know, if you had a list of the top 100 geo tags on Instagram, like that’s a lot of traffic.

So I don’t have that list. I’ve never Googled it, but, [00:13:00] um, you know, I think for like, uh, You know, metaverse attacking. I mean, if you’re a startup and you’re, uh, running a gorilla, a war, you know, you have, and you don’t have advertising dollars to buy, um, you know, eyeballs, uh, on Instagram. So I’m just saying that there’s like strategies to manipulate.

I, I, I’ve always been in, uh, intrigued with, uh, spamming and finding loopholes or arbitrage spreads, you know, ad ad tech and advertising arbitrage spreads. Um, and boy, you can make a lot of money. I mean, the richest, some of the richest people I know are just like, you know, world famous spammers, like Scott Richter who started, uh, I mean he was called like the, the spam affiliate king by, uh, I think it was John Oliver on, uh, the Daily Show.

But, uh, anyways, I’m just saying that like, yeah, Google ad revenue is, uh, you can make, you can become a multi-millionaire this year if you know how to spam . Well, I [00:14:00] mean, there’s different ways of doing it, right? But. Uh, you know, one thing you brought up there was this notion or idea that, um, and startups are very nimble and very quick, whereas big corporations can be a little slow to the market.

So, you know, take a new industry like the me versus opportunities for startups because they’re not competing against big companies. Now, obviously with the Metaverse, you’ve gotten meta and roadblocks, and I’m not necessarily talking about creating your own metaverse, but I am saying that there’s a lot of opportunity and in, in any new space, um, Airbnb is another example, right?

There’s a whole shift in the way that second homes are, are being managed, and there’s opportunities for, for people who wanna get involved because the big companies just haven’t arrived yet. And that’s something we learned from, uh, a prior session with Jeffrey Moore, who wrote Crossing the Chasm and he was on, uh, on this show.

And he talked about [00:15:00] seizing the moment or the day, seizing the day, or the opportunity for the startup because the big corporations just are too risk averse to jump into some of these new industries. So I think that was really good. Like, All right, Ra, we’re gonna keep moving on here. We’ll, we’ll jump over to your second lesson.

My second lesson is, uh, forming a win-win alliance. Uh, talks about how diplomacy could be far better solution than fir to death. I’m sorry, you said, Can you say that again? Just say that one more time. I’m sorry, I missed it. Winning alliances, is that what you said?

Yes, Win-win Alliance is the second lesson with, uh, which I mentioned, uh, how creative diplomacy is farmer, better than fighting through the debt in terms of battle. You know how in the old times, uh, there used to be, you know, modules and marriages between two [00:16:00] nations, uh, uh, which they choose over, you know, battle.

So that is what we care call win-win alliance in businesses as well, like how there are, like, how your best competitor could, could be your best partner as well. Because instead of fighting for market share, what you could do is you could bring the best from, uh, both of your business and build a mutually benefiting.

So it’s something, uh, cooperation and how it would move comparators, uh, away from, you know, the idea that, uh, the winner would take everything and losers are left with nothing. Instead, you would replace that approach with, uh, plus some game where results are profitable for everyone involved because you are all working together.

And yes, I do understand that there are some drawbacks [00:17:00] to the strategy when we talk about competition, but if we consider the advantages that it offers, it could be one of the key strategy for the growth of your business as well. Very good, doc. Good. Jeff, any thought about this co-opetition? I know that product com sells on Chewy.

For instance, a lot of our products are sold on Chewy, so they’re sort of a competitor, but they’re also sort of a. Distributor. Any thoughts on that journey? Well, I think just in general, very few, um, industries are a zero sum game where, you know, as, as Rocha was saying, where winner takes all, you know, there’s always room for a number of players.

And, and in many, most, most verticals, a number of very successful players. You know, there’s not one a motive manufacturer, there’s not one soft drink manufacturer. There, there are many, even if one or two may be in a more dominant position, there’s room for many others. And I think maybe part of this, [00:18:00] this notion of the win-win alliance too is, is the notion that, um, you know, a rising tide lifts all ships and in some burgeoning markets, That’s very important.

You know, we saw that co in the domain name space when we were, along with many other new alternative top level domains, alternatives Uh, it was important we, we would cheer on some of our so-called competitors because it was important for consumers to become aware that all these choices were out there.

So as long as they were using any of the. Top level domains, it would benefit all of the new top level domains. I think we’re seeing that now in the electric car space, in the EV space, Yes. Tesla was, was, you know, sort of first to market in many respects, and, um, certainly a leader. But Tesla is also very supportive of all the other car manufacturers getting involved in, in the [00:19:00] electric space.

I’ve, I’ve heard Elon must talk about that in interviews because the relative market to overall gas powered car sales is still very, very small for EVs. And the opportunity, uh, for consumer awareness and consumer acceptance and competition, driving pricing down and, and creating demand for more readily available charging stations is something that benefit.

Tesla along with all the other EV manufacturers. So, so they are competitors, but they’re also cooperative in, in the sense that they need to grow the marketplace, uh, and the demand for EV vehicles. Um, so I think that’s kind of what you’re talking about, right? Roha? Oh, yes, yes. Um, uh, Win win Alarm Alliance is something I see, uh, not lot of business doing out here because they are all about killing the competitors, and I don’t think that should be the case.

Instead, I mean, it is bad for the consumers, but it’s good [00:20:00] for the business. Great. Well, why don’t we hit number three. Why don’t we go for lesson number three from the Art of War? And again, if you’re in the audience and you have some thoughts on these topics, it’s Friday afternoon and we’d love to have you on stage to chat about, uh, any of these thoughts or ideas.

So lesson number three, routine. Yes. The lesson number three is total preparation before battles. And if you ask me like my one favorite strategy from the book out of war, I would say, uh, there’s this famous quote, Um, if you know yourself and your enemy, you are gonna win every battle. And if you know yourself but not your enemy, with every you win, you will support a loss.

And if you don’t know yourself, know your enemy, you gonna lose every battle. So, uh, uh, in, uh, in this school, around this court, I. Uh, this made this, uh, third lesson that is total [00:21:00] preparation before battles. And it’s like you gotta know your competitive advantages and to know those and to develop your, to build your competitive advantage, you gotta know your strengths and weaknesses as well as your competitors.

Because when you know your business inside out, that is when, uh, you could build an competitive advantage. I often see businesses making, uh, the mistake of assuming that they could just go with the flow and, uh, build a competitive advantage as. As they go forward, there are businesses who have found success using this strategy, but this is not something that I would agree with.

Be, Uh, I think it is best if you study the market, look at the consumer trends, or look at the regulation or the development happening, uh, today or five years from now on, because it could impact your business both negatively and positively. [00:22:00] So this is something I would say, uh, you know, going, uh, prepared, uh, before you enter the market, or even when you are in the market, you are actively, uh, you know, growing your business.

Even then because, uh, even if, uh, let’s, I say I just, I had this very interesting, uh, example, if you’d like me to share Yeah, please. Yeah. So, uh, many of you may know already about the u p in India. It’s a payment, uh, system in India. And when it was launched, I find this story so interesting that when it was launched, it, uh, almost wipe out the entire payment wallets, uh, business in India.

Because with the u p, you can directly pay vendors from your bank account. Uh, there is no need for additional, uh, wallet, right? You don’t, you can just, uh, there’s no need to add your money in some wallet and then make a payment, and they just remove that one step in the process, you know, just pay directly from your account.

And that entire [00:23:00] space was made redundant. I mean the, uh, there are businesses, wallet businesses who were proactive and I saw them react, uh, quickly to this development. And they either, you know, integrated uppi in their services and started offering different services. You know, they expanded the business and those who failed to make those quick decisions, they’re no longer there in the market.

So I think it is, it is, uh, you know, it’s, uh, imperative that, uh, we are aware of the developments that are happening in the industry. It is good to be thoroughly prepared knowing what your competitors are doing and what is the overall scenario that is happening in the market, which are operating in.

Because interestingly, u p was also so great for small businesses because now, I mean, there was also an interesting study, which the, which said that businesses are at the risk of losing their. Customers to their competitors if they continue to [00:24:00] rely on cash or other traditional payments methods because everyone ising u p because of its simplicity.

And I just love this, uh, this case study so much. It’s fascinated. Fascinating. Yeah. Disrupted the space. Yeah. It is fascinating. I, I, I think of, um, what you’re talking about here, we call it the X factor and be, Harish describes it this way, that if there is a bottleneck in an industry and you can solve that bottleneck, you can win the marketplace.

And it’s called the X factor. And you know, I encourage every startup to try to figure out what their X factor is and what can make them do different and unique in that industry. For example, uh, you think of Domino’s Pizza, 30 minutes are free. That became their X factor when they first launched, um, a company in Canada, I [00:25:00] think Pizza, Pizza did the same thing.

30 minutes are free. They were the first up in Toronto. Um, I remember having a pizza restaurant in Toronto at the time, saying, Oh, there’s no way they can do it. They’re gonna lose so much money. But you know, what they did is they reengineered their entire systems so they could deliver on that promise. Um, that’s an example of, of one, one there.

But another one is, um, I love this one National car rental bit like your u p story, right? They, they solved the little problem and they totally won the market. Well, National Car Rental solved a problem of showing up at an airport and having to line up for 30 minutes to get your rent your car. Now I just show up to an airport, walk onto the lot, and, and drive through security and show them your.

Your, uh, your ID on the way out and, and it’s, it’s just so much faster and I pick and choose the car that I want. Um, they’ve totally re-engineered their systems and designs, so that gave them the X factor. So what’s, [00:26:00] what is your X factor? Um, what is your u p story, right? So, um, that’s interesting. Any thoughts, Jeff, before we jump to lesson number four?

Well, I think that, you know, you talked about the X factor, but the, the actual, uh, lesson was about preparedness. And I just think just in general, it’s such an important thing, not just for your business battles, but even from your personal battle. You know, we all have all the world’s information at our fingertips today.

So there’s, there’s absolutely no excuse to walk into a job interview or a business meeting or a sales pitch, um, or a fundraising meeting without knowing everything you could possibly know about the person you’re meeting with. If you’re trying to raise money for your startup and you’re meeting with, with the VCs, you should know, you know, every company that’s in their portfolio.

You should know the personal interests of the partner that you’re meeting with because you’ve looked at their [00:27:00] social media accounts and you realize that they play golf every, every weekend, and they’re a golfer, and that may be something you can connect with them on or whatever it may be. So this idea of, of walking into the battle fully prepared is something that we should be practicing in all aspects of our life, and it’s never been easier to enter any battle fully prepared than it is today because of our access to inform.

Well, it’s interesting cause you, you know, I, I’ve done trade shows with you, Jeff, and you, at the beginning of the trade show, you always have everybody come together and you get you hand out, you know, these are the talking points. These are the, is that kind of planning, Is that, is that what you’re talking about?

Yeah. Well, it’s even, yes, and it’s even deeper than that. It’s just knowing if, if, you know, you’re gonna be meeting with a certain person, Let’s say you’re trying to sell, sell your products to, or raise money from whatever, Not only should you know all about their business, meaning, you know, what kind of products they sell, what other types of companies have they invested in.

If it’s, if it’s an in invest, an [00:28:00] investment meeting, but know about that person, it’s so easy to find out personal information because ever we’re all are posting stuff on social media. So you can find out that someone, I used golf as example. It could be sailing, it could be knitting, it could be whatever.

But if you walk into a meeting and, and you can let someone know, Oh, you know, uh, you know, I realize that you’re, you’re a big golfer, you know, I once played at blah, blah, blah course. You know, have you ever played there? All of a sudden you’re, you’re connecting on a level that’s not just about the sale or the investment and everything else.

And it’ll also prepare you if you know that you’re walking into, um, A meeting and they don’t like a particular thing, um, then don’t bring it up. Then you’ll know not to bring it up. Remove that thing from your pitch. Uh, if you know it’s something they don’t like. So if you, or if you know that they’re all about, uh, sustainable investing in businesses that have sustainable aspects, then make sure that your presentation is highlighting whatever sustainability your company has, which is something you [00:29:00] might not have highlighted in a different meeting with a different potential investor.

So it’s really just about leveraging our insane access to information, both business and personal, and to use that to your advantage in the battle. Awesome. All right. Part of war lesson number four, Over to you, Ru Shagan. Oh, yes. Uh, before we move those, uh, lesson number four, I really wanna thank Jeffrey for summarizing the point which I was trying to make.

Uh, really well, you did a wonderful job, Jeffrey. Thank you so much. Uh, the fourth point, moving on, Um, the strengths and weaknesses. Um, what I’m, uh, telling, uh, selling to convey over here is that, uh, winning in general is always aware of his troops, weaknesses and strength. Similarly, entrepreneurs must also know and leverage their current teams’ competencies while also offering the [00:30:00] backup and direction to minimize weaknesses in selecting the target market.

In fact, you know, knowing your, uh, weaknesses alone is not enough. You gotta know the weaknesses and strengths of your competitors as well. Because, uh, you need to constantly compare yourself to your competitors and look at the strength of their team. Look at the quality of their products, uh, their services, and, you know, why their compare, why their customers are loyal to them.

And what you could, uh, do to turn the tables around, like where are the weaknesses and how you can, uh, turn those weaknesses into your own strength. And when. Uh, competition, right? You gotta outrun your competitors to be there in the market. And as part of, you know, I’m a, uh, I’m, uh, so much into digital media at this point that I even [00:31:00] compare their position across social media and other digital platforms as well.

Like what kind of engagement level they have with the audience and what kind of messaging that they are sending to their audience, what they are doing better, and what you could be doing to, you know, make improvements in your own messaging or in your own set. It’s, uh, the point is that you need to analyze the gap if you want to out in your competitors.

So for that, you need to know your trends and your weaknesses as well. I, I, again, uh, when you talked about airport, I am reminded of another case study, which I recently read, not recently, like few months, but, uh, it’s about the Indian aviation market. Uh, I would like to share that. Uh, but, uh, like in, uh, 2000, um, all the airline companies that in India are making huge losses, right.

[00:32:00] Companies had entered the market. Uh, one is King Fisher and other is Indigo. And by the time we reached 2010s, um, King Fisher ordered like four times more loss than they were making when they just had started. Whereas Indigo recorded profit when every other airline was making losses. Right. Since then, it has captured like more than 50% of the market share.

And how they did that is just so fascinating because every time I travel with the airline, I ask myself this question like, you know, I see answers everywhere. Every time I travel with them is like how they manage to survive is. They studied like where these big players were struggling in this industry and what mistakes that they were doing.

And before they ventured into the market, they were already actually prepared from, you know, opting for a different root model, [00:33:00] uh, the business model and what mistake they should not be making to maximize their own profit. And avoid, uh, incurring those huge losses that they were, their peers were doing right.

And that is how, uh, they ensure their success. And I think the assessing the strengths and weaknesses of your own business as well as your competitors and what is happening in the industry to get the, will help you win your business. So it’s interesting, Roha, what you’re saying is, so I, I, I have, I’m not going to business school.

Uh, I don’t even have a business degree, even though I’ve been in business for 40 plus years. I was an English major for what it’s worth. But, um, I know that in business school and in business classes, they talk a lot about doing a SWOT analysis. And I know, you know, people are often taught to do a SWOT analysis for their business.

Um, you know, you know, uh, strengths, uh, [00:34:00] weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Um, and I think what you’re saying is not only should you be doing a swot, For your business, but it would actually be quite valuable to do a SWOT analysis of your competitor’s business and then look for those weaknesses, uh, as areas where you can attack to keep us within the war analogy.

Um, and then look at those areas of their strengths as, as areas for you to protect yourself against in some way. Um, is that that kind of what you’re saying? Yes. Yes. Because like every army, your competitor is also gonna have weak points whether they’re ready to accept it or not. And with, uh, total assessment, you gonna find those weak points and you must keep your eyes out for the weak points so you can forward them whenever you have the right opportunity to lead yourself to the victory.

Or let’s just say, you know, winning the [00:35:00] market share or going ahead of your competitors. Yes. Well, it’s absolutely fascinating. Fascinating. There’s 50, you know, that they were able to borrow a 50% market share in 10 years, and, uh, it’s a great story that, that you told us there.

Yeah, I, I find that study really fascinating because the way they were aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the market is like what other players were doing is, what they were doing is they were focusing more on customer come when actually aviation business is very cost intensive and the fuel prices were soaring higher and higher.

And if you look at the market, and if you look at the Indian market in general, it’s a very cost, uh, conscious market I would call. And they may wanna, you know, want the luxury, but at the same time they [00:36:00] are worry about the cost. And if you are offering something cheaper, even if, let’s just say you have less amenities and less luxuries, They would still prefer to, you know, especially if you are talking about domestic flights, they are like less than three hours of domestic flights and they don’t need those luxuries in those domestic three hours flight, right?

Every, they just need enough, uh, leg room and they just need enough room to see. Uh, and that’s how they, what they did was they increased the efficiency of their, uh, flights. They also, uh, use, uh, instead of, uh, point to point model, what they did was they instead adapted to some different hub and spoke model where, so it is also reducing their own.

Um, I read that study a while back. Uh, but what they were doing in essence was, uh, getting the same amount of, uh, flights and greater flight routes, uh, with less amount [00:37:00] of staff and less planes. So that’s how they were able to, you know, increase the efficiency. And in return, they increased their profits as well, which was something none of the other players were doing.

They were all about, you know, uh, giving the best services to their customers. And they had all the equipments, which also increased the prices as well for flight. Right. It’s very expensive. And another thing which I noticed what they did was all of their, uh, planes were airs. Uh, but uh, other competitors, if you look them, they were mix of Boeing and Airbus.

So what they did was the pilots, which they hired, uh, were mix of, uh, Boeing ands as well. Whereas Indigo, they only had one kind of planes. So all of, so they were also, they didn’t require high number of pilots. Right. So that’s how they [00:38:00] won this huge, um, Market share because of their efficiency and because of the different strategies.

There are so many other strategies, which they did, but I may not be the best person to explain them properly. Uh, but, and uh, and that is how they won the market, right? That’s what they did, which none of the other players were doing. And when, uh, this whole prizes continued to rise, uh, they were able to, you know, uh, like win and they immersed of the, uh, about all of the other competitors.

And there was some big players were talking about. And Indigo was just a niche, a new player in the market. So that is something huge. Yeah. Wow. Amazing. Wow. Amazing. So think first act later, lesson number five. Think first, act later. And you talk about in your article how entrepreneurs and armies in generals they need to.

They need to know [00:39:00] which battles are worth fighting, so where to focus your resources and, and to not, to waste time on small battles. Can you talk a little bit about lesson number five? Oh, yes, yes, yes. I think we pretty much covered, uh, uh, the same thing when, uh, we had this discussion, but, uh, yeah, we can, uh, talk for about it.

Uh, when I say. Think force act later is same as, you know, being totally prepared because you gotta have all your strategies in place. You need to have your strengths and weaknesses. Uh, you have assessment of your competitors or enemies, strength and weaknesses in place. So before you are even out in the battlefield, you know, whether you gonna win this battle or not, because you have all the information you need right here.

And, uh, Sundo, uh, talks about, uh, you know, [00:40:00] how uh, a skillful fighter, six battles, they know they can win. And in other words, it’s also conveys that if you know that, uh, your enemies let I say it’s too strong and you know, you can out win it right now, at least in your own position, uh, where you are right now.

So in this, uh, case, the best, uh, would be to back down because it doesn’t make sense to fight a losing battle. You would only end up wasting your resources. As I say today, I start, uh, uh, play stores or app stores, competitor. I come up with my own place to, um, or my own app market. I would, I would find it very hard to survive because there, there are two giant players.

I know I won’t be able to out. I wouldn’t state find a niche market and I would go [00:41:00] there. Uh, so that is what it means when you think first and act later, because it wouldn’t make any sense if you are not prepared and if you are, uh, you know, if you just gonna fight and, uh, lose the battle. Yes. Yeah. I know.

We, I think, I know we, No, I was gonna say, I think from what you said and from looking at the article too, and it’s a little bit different from having this strategy is, you know, choosing your battles. You know, you talk about, um, you know, sometimes it’s, it’s, it’s a better strategy to lose the small battle.

Um, and bed be better prepared for the big war. So, so not every little skirmish is worth fighting over. And I think in business, you know, that’s something that comes up a lot. You know, you might see one of your competitors do something and think, Oh, I’ve gotta go out and do the same thing. Or I’ve got to, you know, do something better than that.

But it might not be something actually that’s worth [00:42:00] focusing on in the larger scheme of things. And, and so you don’t wanna have the shoot from the hip mentality where you’re reacting to every little thing that comes along and taking action right away. Sometimes it’s best, as I think you said, in this point, not to take action right away to really think about it, make sure is, is this particular.

Battle worth fighting for. Is this the hill I want to die on? Is, I guess we’re using every military and war cliche in the book, in this session, uh, to stick with the art of the war. But um, I think that’s kind of what this is and this is how it’s differentiated from just, um, you know, um, doing your research.

Right. It reminds me of, um, a story up in Canada when we had a, a media company, uh, I dunno if you remember the, uh, tax, a taxi advertising media company. And we launched the company at the same time as another company and we spent seven years fighting it out. There was just not enough [00:43:00] profitability for two companies in the market, so we lost hundreds of thousands of dollars battling it out.

And finally we resolved that by purchasing our competitor. We ended up having to buy them out. We weakened them enough, we did weaken them a lot. And we put ’em on the ropes. So we got them to the point where they said, We just want out of this business. We don’t wanna do this anymore. And we bought them for a pretty low price, but it was a brutal bottle.

Brutal. And you don’t wanna get stuck in those things. All right, so lesson number six, uh, about culture. All right? It’s all about creating a, a, a great culture for your company, right? Rucha. Oh, yes. Yes. Um, that, uh, you need to take care of your team, essentially. That is what the, that le that section says. The lesson number six is all about having a strong culture.

So you are taking care of your team. [00:44:00] Uh, when we say, uh, take care of, you know, there is this, uh, s uh, quote that a successful leader treats his men as he would his beloved son, and they would fall, fall him into the DPS Valley. Um, and he also talks about how you need to have a good reward system in place to make them feel appreciated.

At the same time, there should also be some sternness and discipline also so, you know, to keep a balance because otherwise they would be spoiled, right? You don’t wanna, uh, make your team spoiled, but at the same time, you want them to feel appreciated. And having the right balance is what I would call a strong culture.

And that is, uh, how it allows with an entrepreneur as well. Cause they are the people who are running the business, uh, and they are the integral part of the business. [00:45:00] And that is, It is essential to have staff loyalty as well. It’s just so underrated and it’s something that we still need to remind entrepreneurs and business owners every day, and that speaks for itself.

That how the notion of strong work culture is just still so underrated. But still, I would say that it is absolutely necessary if you want to, you know, achieve the business. Uh, so that is what a strong culture is all about. Because I also think, I also think, yeah, I also think in, in reading your article, this particular, uh, section talks a lot.

Um, leadership too. And I think even if you go back to the days of Sun Zoo, um, you know, if you watch many movies of, of war in past times, oftentimes the general, the, the king even would go into battle and be up there right on the front lines with their soldiers. And I think that’s, that’s part [00:46:00] of a, a leadership, um, you know, thing.

And I think in business too, it’s, it’s equally important that the leaders are, are not just, you know, sitting in, in their offices behind closed doors, but show their team that they are prepared to roll up their sleeves and, and get involved in the battle, uh, alongside, uh, the rest of the employees and, and, and not just, you know, be there telling people what to do, um, but actually partaking in, in what’s necessary to get the job done and win the battle.

Yeah, I had the opportunity to tour Zappos in Las Vegas. . And it’s interesting you say that, Jeff, because the CFO and the CEO at the time had, um, their desks, their stations were, were, were out in the open. They, they didn’t have private offices. And you know, if you do know Zappos, you know that they’ve, they’ve, they had done a great job creating a culture of promoting, [00:47:00] um, a particular set of values to their employees.

I remember one of them was, we, we, we like to hire weird people and they really did try to embrace the diversity and weirdness in everyone. And I thought that was just very cool. And they, they, they really lived their culture, they lived their values and, uh, it just, it was something, it was, it was something I think they probably did one of the best jobs I’ve seen in, in, in, in corporate America or for startups with respect to culture.

And I think they are a good example. Ghan, you’re on stage. Do you have any thoughts about culture or the Art of War or any, any anything in related to this topic, uh, today? Um, well thank you. Thank you very much for calling. Um, I would love to say that in the art of wars and startups, we really think about, um, [00:48:00] um, when in colonization and also in startups as well, as far as coming from Africas or different dimensions, not just only in Africans, but also in different dimensions.

Nobody is really. Realizing that it’s not only about Africans, it’s all also about, um, Middle Eastern and so on and so forth. And the fact that when it comes to the art of war, it’s also Africanism and nobody really talks about that. So, yeah. [00:49:00] Thank you. Yeah, I mean, these principles are pretty applicable, you know, all over the world and, you know, and, and then we’re trying to relate it back to startups.

Well, I do wanna say have enough time here to talk about number seven, but do you have any more thoughts on culture rucha before you talk to us about taking risks?

Oh yes, sorry. Yeah, go ahead. Uh, no, no. If Ghar wants to say something, please continue. No, for me, in the art of, um, war, um, understanding, we really need, need to think about who is, uh, given us wars and who are we to be given others as wars and [00:50:00] bow of colonization, bow way of wars, bow way of other things. So been need, think about that.

Well, again, thanks for that. Uh, we appreciate those, those thoughts and comments. And, uh, we do want to see if we can get to number seven.

The number seven is taking risks without being reckless, right? So it’s kind of self explanatory because when we talk about risk, uh, we talk about taking smart risks where you are not being rash, uh, because then it would only lead to your own destruction, right? Instead, you could take a step, a step back and do your due diligence and, uh, you know, [00:51:00] have all your resources in place before you make the decision of taking risks.

And that is what this is about. Uh, like, uh, I also talked in my article about a minimum viable product. Where you just put together your core features and present it to the audience, uh, whether the product is unique enough or whether there is enough demand for it, instead of, you know, putting millions of dollars.

For in developing that product, uh, you just go with the pilot phase, You know, it’s like, uh, doing, uh, soft launching before you do, uh, full skill launch. Uh, that is what I was talking when I was, uh, talking about taking risk without being reckless. And there’s also about, you know, uh, how you just, uh, do the analysis and you just do testing endless testings, and you [00:52:00] never get to the point where you would turn your idea into product.

That is also something which you should avoid doing. Just launch your minimum viable product and uh, look at the market response, and then you go ahead with the idea which you had because now you have validated your idea. And you do have some numbers in place, which would justify your idea as well, that would help you make that decision to make a full scale launch of that business.

In this way, you are neither reckless nor you are making any dumb risk. You are making a smart risk, and you have made the smart decision for your business, uh, which would, uh, also help you, you know, like save millions of dollars and your time and your resources, because if your idea ha want to work, then you gonna lose all of that.

And, uh, a failure is, uh, not something you would wanna deal with recklessly. [00:53:00] Instead, you take smarts. You, uh, test out first, you study first. You assist the market first. You, uh, uh, check your idea first before you go ahead on a full scale.

Yeah, I mean, I, I remember, uh, can I just, can I just say so again, Sorry, G just hold on. Hold on, G um, uh, I remember our last company, Jeff, we had a saying do crazy things, not, Sorry. Yeah. Do crazy things, not stupid things. And it really is all about promoting the idea of, uh, that you can take a risk in the company.

It’s actually, you know, it’s, it’s, we embrace employees taking risks so that they can succeed like this. The one of the challenges larger companies get into is they don’t embrace that kind of culture. And I think that having a culture where people can take those risks and, [00:54:00] and, and, uh, and try something new, so important.

The other thing you talk about is testing, and I know with, you know, we’re a product based company and we do a lot of testing. We’ll do a first generation product and you know, we’ll look at it and then we’ll order a hundred units and test it. If that works, then we’ll order a thousand units. So that’s interesting as well.

Yep. Oh yeah. Um, yeah, please go ahead. No, I was agreeing with Colin and, um, you know, I like in reading your article with this particular lesson, the notion of, you know, before you go into battle, you need to understand the cost of war. And even when you win there, there’s always gonna be a cost. So taking risks without being reckless, um, making, making, uh, crazy decisions but not stupid decisions are ways of, of going about it where you understand that there are some [00:55:00] risks, but those and costs, but those risks and costs won’t be devastating if, if you do it.

Yes, Yes. Uh, that sums up, uh, pretty well. Again, . Uh, it’s like, uh, there are, uh, people who would, uh, you know, aim for perfection. And there is often the notion which says that, you know, when it comes to entrepreneurship, there is no such thing as perfection. You just improve your things based on the learnings you have.

You stay focused and you make improvement. How we talk about getting feedbacks, you know, uh, constantly, uh, running tests and improving your products, you know, making upgrades as you go. And that’s how you go for excellent. And that’s how you become from good to great. And you never stop doing that if you wanna win the business, because constant innovation is something that would keep you ahead from your competitors.

And at the same time, again, [00:56:00] just because, you know, there is, uh, The profit going in a particular direction. It doesn’t mean you just, uh, jump on, uh, you know, uh, well, you check the deck and you check the risk. Uh, you check how devastating it would be if it is not successful. And after a careful analysis, you make the decision of going ahead.

And, uh, that is why it is very important to, you know, making that choice, you know, have the patience of being, uh, you know, uh, not being reckless. It, it, it takes a lot because when you are, you, you have this idea, you are very passionate about it and you be like, No, no, what I’m thinking is correct. You go with the guts.

But I say you make a combination of both. You have a data backing your idea and you have your own experience, which would give you the confidence you need [00:57:00] to achieve that success. And, uh, that is why it is very much needed. And if you have doubts whether you would be able to do it or not, it means it’s something you should probably not be doing.

Wow. Wow. This was such a, you know, incredible hour. Really appreciated. It was a lot of fun. Sort of going back and forth and talking about, you know, how business and war and startups are connected. We’ll be sure to link your article, um, on the website. We, if you, you can go back and listen to any of these

Uh, we’ve now got, I think this was episode number 76 or 77, but neither case you can go back and you can listen to those episodes. Um, this was very interesting and really appreciate you spending the time with us this afternoon, Rucha. And, uh, and thank you very, very much. [00:58:00] Thank you so much, Colin. Thank you.

It have been, uh, very, uh, nice experience for me is, but yeah, I thought we could talk more about it because the discussion about the Arab War and how it would relate to startups is that we can talk all night and we still would be talking about different strategies and how it would relate to startups and how you, you know, things you need to be doing or things you not be doing to achieve, uh, the, the goal you have or have the success and you know how you should be running your business and have that, uh, you know, target market share you have in your mind, assessing.

Trends and weaknesses. You know, summing up everything we’ve discussed so far, and there’s one line that it would take all night and we still wouldn’t be over that considering the depth of this, this book. So it has been a really fascinating discussing, uh, everything so far with you all. Thank you so much.

Yeah, [00:59:00] thank you. And, uh, welcome to Clubhouse. I know you’ll be welcome on stage whenever you come into Startup Club. Uh, you’re, you’re a very wise person and, and, uh, we learned a lot today. Well, thank you everyone. We’ll see you next week. In fact, next week we have a lawyer, um, she’s probably one of the best lawyers who know how to raise money for your startup, and she’s gonna talk to us about crowdfunding, Reggae Plus like all the unique, uh, tools you can use to raise money for your startup.

And that’s next Friday, two o’clock Eastern, and we will see you. Again on the show next week. Have a good one. Bye. Thanks, Jeff. Can I just say, uh, sorry. We, we, we have, we had a hard stop, Apologize, but we had a hard stop. So, um, we’ll try to get you on again next week. Again, Ghan, but thank you very much.[01:00:00] 


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