Family-run businesses are very different from the corporates and suffer from a poor understanding by the top talent in the country. However, they make a very significant part of our economy. To bridge this gap, as well as to articulate my own challenges, I had floated these challenges during my work at Triveni sarees as two case studies in 2015:

We saw fantastic participation by the top B-school MBA students on these case challenges, with faculty members appreciative of truly bringing in Indian small business case studies. Hope other students can benefit too.

Early-stage companies struggle with balancing incremental product changes basis feedback (ie outside-in product management) vs more quantum original internally thought-through product features (inside-out product management).

Outside-in product management works post a product-market fit when one has a set of value deriving users sharing feedback. This feedback builds on the core product value. Before product-market fit, external feedback is often from sales — is scattered to get the deal through, and can be a distraction. This is the peril of selling a product before a core value is established.

If a startup is in this stage, it is incredibly critical that the company has a few core people unencumbered by these product asks, and freed up from the organized product management, to experiment & pivot with quantum product jumps.

“… as simple as possible, but no simpler.” — Albert Einstein

Some of us tend to over-intellectualize — the harder or more unique our work is, the more valuable we think it is. We naturally veer towards these hard problems or tasks. However, this can be a startup’s bane.


My life choices have been uncommon.

I had seemingly all figured out — I had topped the engineering entrances, went through IITs with mostly blazing colors, and was admitted to a PhD program at MIT. I was destined to be in research & academia. …

Idealism & irreverence is a heady mix. It made me return to India & jump into co-founding a social impact venture when I was 28 (and had accomplished little).

It was September 2009. Swasth India had me travel through our towns, villages & slums, to community forums, factories, local markets…

Entrepreneurs must focus most of the early-stage energy on getting the product right. Pitch to customers to only identify your 2–3 really sticky early prospects, and then spend energy on making the product work for them.

Getting the initial pilot customers right is critical. Select pilot customers wherein the top…

Entrepreneurs are irrational optimists, often carrying a lot of confirmation bias. It takes some time & distance from a venture to objectively assess the learnings therein.

Now away from founder life after 12 years & 3 different ventures, it’s a little easier to summarise & synthesize my learnings. …

Arvind Saraf

Arvind ( is a Computer engineer (IIT, MIT, Google) turned technology/impact entrepreneur.

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