Gautam is a serial entrepreneur who started his first company in 1996. His first 2 companies failed and he proved third time lucky by exiting his third company in 2008 and coming out of what he calls the cycle of “work-leisure”. He turned seed investor post exiting his third venture and started “MyFirstcheque” along with 2 friends of his which as the name suggests writes the “First cheque” for startups. Gautam is currently living his dream life which is to create enterprise value from scratch , read and write. He authored his first book, Flying Business Class in 2013.
This book is about the seven year journey of a first-time Entrepreneur and Flying Business Class is that special moment in his journey. It is written in first person, but Gautam clarifies that this is not his autobiography. The book starts off in a coffee shop, where a successful entrepreneur Siddhartha agrees to mentor Ajay, a promising young startup founder. As he listens Ajay’s story, the readers are transported to Siddhartha’s startup journey – right from quitting his job on a monday morning to becoming a member of self-made millionaires club. At a boring event, he chances upon his mentor GC, who guides him very skilfully throughout the startup journey. Gautam takes us through all the questions that an entrepreneur will have in his startup journey and gives his words of wisdom through the mentor. The discussions happen at a Coffee shop, and each discussion revolves around a pain point experienced by Siddhartha. The topics discussed in the book range from hiring your first employees, creating a company’s culture, performing self assessment as the company grows and the investor mindset while evaluating Startups. The real defining moment for Siddhartha is Flying Business Class, out of his Startup’s finances. This clearly establishes that his startup is a success and his journey has been well rewarded.
In his book, Gautam tells us about the 120 minute rule before taking decisions, the Power of One the one benefit your customer will get with your product and on why it is hard to wait for the first cheque. We all are so used to small wins in life that it gets tough to wait for the first win in Startup. Siddhartha, the startup founder runs after investors before getting his first 10 sales and through his Story, the author tell us an all too obvious mindset problem with startup founders. The book also deals with insecurity feeling that comes from not-enough-money for my startup a couple of times and gives us a fair idea of how much is enough money to start up and run the operations. My favorite part of the book is where Siddhartha celebrates his every single victory, because those memories are what remain forever. A separate thread runs for John, the server at the Coffee shop to illustrate how entrepreneurship inspires and motivates people to take the plunge.
With 167 pages long, the book is a breeze to read. The best part is profound advise in simple language. It does not deal with the technical aspects of the startup, but rather the “soft” issues, which in most cases are the reason for shutting down the shop. On the flip side, the tone of the book gets repetitive at times mainly because the central thread of the book is just the conversations at a coffee shop between the founder and mentor. We’d definitely recommend all entrepreneurs to give this book a read to savor the business class moments and walk away with great nuggets of wisdom.