Being an Entrepreneur : What I learnt from Piyush Nahata

IIM-A conducts an Entrepreneurship fair every year where it invites select startups across multiple sectors to interact with the students and hopefully convince some of these students to work with them during for their summer internship. There is usually a decent mix of companies; tech startups are obviously there along with a lot of Edu startups (looks like a Edu bubble there to me), energy and a few financial ones as well. To be frank, I was kind of disappointed by the turn out the previous year and so this year my hopes weren’t very high. By far, the only firm I was looking forward to was Zomato and that too because I was interested in the new API they released rather than any work opportunity with them. You might find a comparison of Zomato and Burrp API on this blog sometime in the next few weeks. So yeah, I went to the Zomato booth and had a nice chat with it’s COO Pankaj Chaddha. I love their site and I am looking forward to more stuff from them. There were quite a few other cool startups as well and it would be great if some of the students did join these firms for their summers.

One of the other startups on display was VVIPParties and ElementSessions spearheaded by Piyush Nahata. At the startup fair, I asked him if he would like to give out the list of parties to other sites or a third party. As he was visibly getting swamped by questions from other facchas (IIM-A lingo for a first year student) he promised to get back to me later. I gave him my card and went to the other booths and I didn’t really hope he would get back to me. May be, because my questions were not at all about working for his firm, he thought I was a jerk. Which is why I was very surprised when I received his SMS the very next day and he asked me to meet up at Cafe Tanstaafl.

So I went hoping to understand about his startup and how parties are organized in metros and of course to find out if he was willing to share the list of parties with me for my own startup (more on that later, some other day, some other post). The rest of the post, as the title suggest, is about what I understood about startups from him.

Piyush is your average guy. He studied B.Com at Mumbai University and by his own admission not really very good at acads. He is not a product out of any of the IITs or IIMs and he does not have a stellar all rounded CV that almost every batch mate of mine here has. And yet, he has his own startup and makes a good friggin’ amount of money from it. So what does his startup do? It publicizes big ticket parties in metros and other big cities and also arranges for international DJs for these parties.

Piyush started Element Sessions back in 2008. In the initial years he had to hide it from his father, a typical orthodox Marwari according to him, who would rather liked him to join the family business. He lied to his father and used to tell him that he was going for an interview whenever he had to go out of town for his work. He narrates the first time he had to get an international DJ for a party; he did not have the cash but he had his credit card. So he stood next to the counter of a shopping mall urging people to pay him cash and he would swipe his card and in turn pay for their bill. Within a day, he had all the cash he needed and make the payment for the DJ all the while hoping his gamble would pay off and there would be enough people coming to the party to enable him to make a good enough profit. And pay off it did, he was able to pay off the credit card ‘loan’ along with overdue charges and yet make a decent profit from the whole thing. And so it had begun, ElementSessions was on and Piyush Nahata had tasted blood (and not to mention multiple other cocktails to celebrate this victory).

So what does he expect from IIM-A grads? Well he thinks that IIM-A grads will be able to get him business beyond what he currently does. He is looking for smart and suave MBA grads who can just as easily deliver a presentation to the CEOs and COOs of hotels like Taj and Oberoi as they would talk to international DJs. And he promises, 10% of the net profit of Element Sessions during the period as stipend for the Summer intern and that would be quite a lot of money indeed. He wants to divide his operations into horizontals (based on the type of party) and verticals (based on the city or metro) with hopefully one IIM-A guy manning one or more of those. And considering the number of parties that happen all round the year, I am sure they will all have their hands full, with work as well as cash. I had a great time talking to Piyush and I wish him all the best in his endeavours. Oh, and yes, next time I am in Mumbai I will sure check out one of his parties. And if you live in Mumbai and love to party, Element Sessions and VVIPParties will tell you when and where.

This is hopefully the first in a series of posts on my interactions with entrepreneurs, big and small. Considering that I am myself searching for a VC to fund my startup, such interactions will be a learning experience for me as well as you, my faithful reader. I will try and cover entrepreneurs from as many sectors as possible but pardon me if a large number of them turn out to be from the technology sector. I will also not make a distinction between how good or bad the startups are doing because I believe you learn more from your failures than success.

Also if you are a Gujarati entrepreneur and want me to write about you, please drop me an email at you[at].sandipdev[dot]you (Replace ‘you’ with ‘me’ in the email address. That was just a measure to avoid spam).  This state has given me a lot and this would be my way of giving back to it. Gujaratis have a healthy attitude towards entrepreneurship and I would love to do my bit to help them. I would not charge you for writing about you, this blog does not exist to make money. I will write about you for free provided I like your entrepreneurial venture.

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3 thoughts on “Being an Entrepreneur : What I learnt from Piyush Nahata

  1. Awesome! That credit card thingy… – requires some heart. Thanks for sharing.

    Can’t really say we display entrepreneurship but if there exists anything like “a step before entrepreneurship” then I guess it is this, for us at least: http://www.offclassroom.com (studINC and Off Classroom). We try encouraging young and budding writers but more than that we hope we can instil the words “Writing” and “Reading” at a lesser level! Though it is an online venture, we are finding it requires much efforts offline for it to succeed as writing and reading are not popular terms here (not-so-well-known-colleges) let alone blogging!
    Would love to get inputs from you.

  2. Very interesting. I dunno though whether any IIMA student will want to work for a startup(as opposed to setting up one themselves/venturing into the evil corporate world).

    And Sandip, I suggest you write your last offer(free publicity) in Gujarati as well to cross the digital divide

  3. its been almost six years i know piyush, it was when he was the chairperson of bhavans college festival called “O2 the fest” 2007 – back in the days in he was the inspiration for us with a daku like attitude he had which no one could carry or replicate, still when i meet him, he is the same, the kid in him has not died and still like to leads his troops (employees) – That being said, i really wish him all the best for the future

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