At BrilliantRead Media, our aim is to bring to our community some of the finest stories from the leadership world. As part of this endeavour, we invited a passionate entrepreneur – Prashant Narang for an exclusive interview with us. He is a seasoned entrepreneur, business leader, strategist, investor and author. He is the Co-Founder of Agility Venture Partners. Let’s learn more about his exciting journey, his background and his advice for our growing community:
Excerpts from our exclusive interview with Prashant:
We are aware of your contribution to the startup ecosystem, talk us through your background and your journey as an entrepreneur, please;
I qualified as a Chartered Accountant with an All India Rank in the year 2001. I joined one of the Big 4 firms in the Assurance / Audit Division. However, I quit my job in 2004 and came into my own CA Practice and joined my dad’s CA firm. Over the years I onboarded a lot of large MNCs as well as SME Business Owners as the firm’s clients.
My learnings from large companies and my observations about SMEs helped me identify a common problem with family-run businesses.”
I identified the problem of poor financial management with almost all the SMEs around. To address this issue, I designed a one day workshop called “Mind Your Profit” which is attended by hundreds of business owners across India through Physical Workshops as well as Webinars.
Further, I wrote a book titled “Four Bucket Cash Flow” which is the most important part of my workshop i.e. managing the cash flows of the business and how that can help a business increase its profits and better its liquidity.
Along with the SME Businesses, I started mentoring and helping a lot of startups in the last few years.”
My involvement with them made me realize that some of these were great businesses which could really do well with the guidance of the more experienced entrepreneurs, the SME Business Owners.
Me and my Co-Founder created an Angel Investors Network in June 2020 called “Agility” which now has over 650 Angel Investors who are either super successful Business Owners or seasoned Industry professionals. We have raised funding of more than USD 1.5 million for 14 startups in the first year of operations.”
Agility has helped many of these startups find some great mentors from the network, who are helping the startups with their guidance and handholding at early stages.
What attracts you towards entrepreneurship instead of a corporate career?
I chose entrepreneurship because I loved the opportunity to create opportunities for others.
I saw the potential of touching many more lives and adding value to them. I always had a strong urge to learn new things. The corporate career was promising but monotonous and did not give me space to experiment.”
I was young when I started on my own which gave me room to take risks. When I look back at my journey so far, I love the way I have grown as a professional, learning so much on the way.
My latest venture “Agility Ventures” is giving me immense satisfaction as we are helping young entrepreneurs create great businesses which in turn create opportunities for so many other people.
‘Agility Ventures’ is such a unique name; talk us through more about it, please. Our audience would also love to know what kind of problem you are solving?
One of my dear friends once said in one of our learning sessions “for any company to be successful, Agility is very important”. The word stuck in my head and I thought I can make my business more agile.
When I started the Angel Investors Network in June 2020 and was thinking about what to name it, I instantly recalled “Agility” and hence, the name.”
We wish to help various startups become great businesses very fast. “Agility” gives us a lot of power in achieving our goals.
What does your company specialise in?
Agility Ventures was started as an Angel Investors Network. Our prime focus is to find great startups for our investors and great investors for our startups. Our Investors come with huge Industry and business experience and add a lot of value to the portfolio startups.
We also have created an ecosystem to help startups scale up fast and profitably. We have a team of experienced mentors and subject matter experts, who help the startups at the early stages to build strong foundations for their businesses.
During this COVID-19 crisis, what are the measures you have undertaken to continue your business without disruption?
As the business is born during COVID, each measure is taken to ensure that the model aligns with the challenges of the pandemic. In fact, the pandemic has revolutionized the way VCs work. With all sessions happening online, it has become easier and faster for us to grow the network.
~ Our business model consists of a lean team which is not at all resource-heavy and has minimal overheads.
~ Our business is completely online. We have used three basic tools commonly available to all i.e. Whatsapp, Zoom and G Suite. Simple technology and easy implementation.
How do you manage yourself and keep on going despite the challenges? What drives you?
Challenges are there for everyone and how one responds to them is the key. I focus more on what I am creating and that makes challenges less powerful in my world. What drives me is the belief that if our intention is right and we are committed enough, we will find a way out of all the challenges we face.
Another thing which has really helped keep me calm is the daily gratitude exercise that me, my wife and my kids do. We are thankful for at least 5 good things in our lives every night before sleeping.”
What are the three most important lessons you have learned while creating “Agility Ventures”?
The three most important lessons are – Go all In, Go all in, Go all in.
In your opinion, what is more necessary: Ideas or a good team for a successful startup?
It is always a combination of both. But it will always be a good team that can make an average idea successful by executing it well and if required, pivoting the idea fast.
Many great ideas die because founders are not able to take proper and timely action.
Given the rapid pace at which the world is changing, what are the leadership traits that are necessary for success?
The ability to visualize the future, the ability to convert it into the present reality and the ability to manage that reality well.
You might have three different people doing these three different things. I learnt this from my Co-Founder in Agility Ventures.
Please share with us – what has worked well for you so far?
Keeping it simple. Yes, we have always kept things simple as if our client is a 10-year-old kid. This helps people become comfortable around our team very fast.
What are the business mantras you have embraced as you sought to establish your success story?
There are two business mantras I sincerely believe and work upon. One is networking and the second is collaboration. Network with the right people and collaborate wherever possible.
You are always positive and motivated, what keeps you going?
The desire to create opportunities for people, for them to create further opportunities. When your purpose is larger than yours, then the possibilities are infinite. And so much possibility keeps me motivated.
We would love to know your advice for all those starting out as an aspiring entrepreneur?
Action is the key and acceptance of failure as a step to success. I know it may sound cliché but the fear of failure holds so many back and they always regret it later when they look back.”
Also, find the right people fast as no one can create great things alone.