The first thing about this book that caught my eyes in the bookstore was the title of the book. Fresh from watching a video of Steve jobs closing his 2005 Stanford commencement address with these words, I first thought it was a book by Steve jobs. But once I picked up the book, I realized that it was not about the ‘Steve Job’ but about the Steves of India.
It’s a book written by an IIM-A (Indian Institute Of Management) Alumni, about IIM-A Alumni who are entrepreneurs, published by CIIE in IIM-A. Well that’s a book for the people, by the people, of the people. Jokes aside, the fact that the book is focused on IIM-A alumni, is probably its strength and weakness. The book gives us a peek into the minds and lives of some truly exceptional first generation (mostly) Indian entrepreneurs, each one an IIM-A alumni. The fact that it focuses on one institute graduates should have made the difficult decision of whom to include and whom not to include, a bit easier for the author. But this has also restricted the inclusion of various other entrepreneurs who might have had a different story to tell.
After reading halfway this book you feel like you are reading the same thing over and over again. The author goes out of the way to emphasize that almost every individual portrayed in the book is a first gen entrepreneur coming from a middle class family. Some of the recurring themes in the all the stories are “Don’t chase money, enjoy the work, money will come”, “When the company is new it’s almost zero holiday work”, “Entrepreneurs have a heavily unbalanced family life and have to sacrifice a lot.”
Except for some jargon that is thrown in, which might need most of us who are not MBA grads to refer online, the book is a light read. The way the book is organized and typeset is another feather in the hat of the publisher. The edition I got had a witty title, nice photograph, a small summary, and a mini prologue preceding every interview. Each interview is followed by some Advice from the interviewee meant for young entrepreneurs.
Some of the points in favor of reading this book are that the book being more or less a collection of interviews, each mutually exclusive of the other. This means that you can read the book at your own pace and skip back and forth and still not miss anything. Also the language used is simple and light, the absence of big statistical numbers (except for the occasional net worth and stock price) makes it even better.
If you are looking for the nitty-gritty details of entrepreneurship, this book is not for you. The book does have enough material to encourage one on in the road to entrepreneurship, but fails by not emphasizing much out the potholes in that road. More elaborations on the hardships faced by the entrepreneurs would have been welcome.
Reading this book can be an enriching experience for you, like the time when i found out that the founders of some of the better known Indian websites like naukri.com, indiainfoline.com, makemytrip.com are all from the same B-School. Not much to go by, but another nugget of information i will be hard pressed to find on the internet.
The book is one of its kind here in India. Young wanna-be-entrepreneurs can take a hint or two from the book. If you are even moderately interested in the Indian Business scene, this is probably a must read book for you. The book is every bit inspiring as Steve jobs ‘Stay Hungry Stay Foolish’ speech and comes highly recommended.