Meet the Founder – Shyam Velumani
The idea came to me, when I was on this flight from Boston to Seattle. After the trip, I invited my friends over for a beer, to play devil’s advocate. It was a group of 5-6 people, we had all studied in different B-Schools and used to hang-out together.
I knew my new venture had to be in the Wedding Industry because by that time, my parents were looking for a suitable match for me. And, I was thinking about what are the new things in the Wedding Market. So, since the information available to me was totally distorted, I thought it couldn’t have been a better time to start this business. It was the right time to go back and start this venture.
So, I immediately started collecting data about who are the different vendors, the different ways in which we could collect these lists, it took a lot of effort. We decided that we needed a team on the ground and that is how the first set of employees was hired.
So many! In fact, the toughest was to get out of comfort zone, leaving a fancy job where I got to wear a suit and fly around the world selling marketing solutions to big companies. How things changed! I came back to India, I didn’t have my own vehicle and I traveled around in a bicycle initially. Then by a scooter…that’s where the changes started. Not that there was no money, but I didn’t want to spend it yet.
The Goal was very simple, 10 years down the line, I’d have taken my boss’ path, be a subject matter expert in the Solutions Marketing Industry. I was being trained by my partners who were people with over 20 years of industry experience.
It was a close-knit company of individuals solving different problems for over 100 different companies. I had a job, where I got to interact directly with senior folks, for instance talking to the CMO at GE, where my age was perhaps the number of years of experience they had.
But now, I know I’ve to make a difference, make an impact! Do something by myself!
Initially, it was tough to get adjusted back in India after so many years in the US. I used to be called ‘Peter’ which is a slang word for people who speak too much English. I’ve gotten used to it now. Think, I was ready and knew I wouldn’t get that fat pay check every single month.
Finding the right people for the right job! Not only that, to convince them why they should be doing it. Because initially even I wasn’t as clear about each one’s role. There have been a lot of changes in roles and this will continue as we grow
There is so much about it that I love. But, if I’d to speak the truth it is the Food & Sweets that is served at the Weddings. The sheer varieties of food that are served; I totally love it!
‘Passion’ across the team & a Sense of Ownership. The team is a group of hand-picked entrepreneurs. As part of the management team, we give them a lot of freedom and let them play De Facto CEO for their roles.
There are plenty. But, I’d give you a few instances where I’ve really been inspired by the leadership shown.
In our business, I’d say the Founder of Bharat Matrimoy, Murugavel Janakiraman for being a pioneer in the industry. While introducing a new service, you need to have a lot patience to get people to get the concept. They were the first to come out with the matrimonial services site.
It is in fact, more popular in the south of India which is a tougher market to enter. But, they persevered and the efforts have paid-off. Bharat Matrimony is India’s # 1 portal today.
The other person is Steve Jobs because he never gave up. He was thrown out of his own company and he came back & had taken Apple to new heights. In fact, this interview is being recorded on an Apple iphone. His persistence & consistency is something I admire.
VSS Mani, Founder & CEO of JustDial is another individual I admire. The efforts that he took to collect & consolidate the information are commendable.
Believe that God didn’t create the world overnight. You Plant a seed and it needs time and you’ve got to nurture it for the fruits. Patience would be the most important takeaway.
Never Give Up! & Be the inspiration for the Team and infect them with your enthusiasm.
Book – Buyology – It woke me up in the middle of the night – it talks about why people buy.
Movies – Kung Fu Panda
Song – Adele’s ‘Rolling in the Deep’
Change the Indian Wedding Eco-system altogether, make it more organized & make the Big Fat Indian Weddings affordable for every Class of People.
Perhaps, something in the Digital Space to make a difference. India is a land of opportunities for someone who wants to change things or make things happen. I’d have used technology to touch human lives!