Bold Kiln is a company, co-founded by Ankit Pandey and Abhishek Agarwal, that enables start- ups to develop into full-fledged businesses by providing an array of services that anyone who decides to take on the entrepreneurial route might find themselves in need of. We caught up with Abhishek and tried to find out more about his journey.
Q1. Firstly, a very warm welcome from Ideasmakemarket.com team. You have been a person not only chasing dreams but living them. Please tell us something about you and your journey so far.
I am an Army kid, have traveled with my Father across India and abroad in studied in more schools than I can remember! I finally landed up in NCR for my last years of schooling, following which I went to IIT Delhi, pursuing Electrical Engineering. Not entirely willing to let go of college life, I decided to do my MBA as well, joining IIM Ahmedabad. After IIMA, I joined The Monitor Group, a top tier strategy consulting firm. I nearly completed five years with them before deciding to take the plunge and work full time on Bold Kiln.
Q2. You hold IIT degree and also hold an MBA from the prestigious Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. How has being an MBA helped you in your journey?
An MBA, especially to someone from an engineering background, gives a very holistic perspective on business and its various aspects. It equips one with the knowledge and tools to be able to take into account various different aspects while building a business, which one could always argue are a lot about common sense. I do believe that my MBA helps me go about this common sense thinking in a structured manner.
Q3. You have recently won the Young leader award by Economic Times. What/ Who has been your source of inspiration?
My biggest source of inspiration has been and continues to be passion to excel and the drive to do my best that my parents have inculcated in me. This attitude helps me push myself further and is a huge motivator and source of encouragement !
Q4. Bold kiln is the one stop shop for entrepreneurs and start-ups. Can you please elaborate on what services Bold Kiln provides to entrepreneurs?
Bold Kiln aims to be a companion to entrepreneurs and startups on their journey, helping with all sorts of needs and pain points. We’re building products, brick and mortar assets, as well as a services offering.
We currently help entrepreneurs with the following services
- Incorporation & Set Up Support
- Banking, Payment Gateway Services
- Strategic Advisory & Mentorship
- Business Model Reviews
- Developmentand Design across Web and Mobile
- Marketing Strategy & Implementation
- Social Media Management
- Facilitating access to investors and mentors
Q5. Please throw some light on your another start-up “Pet Santa”?
Pet Santa is a not for profit initiative of mine and Ankit’s born from our love for animals. Pet Santa aims to raise funds for other animal welfare NGOs. We want to leverage social platforms and creative ways of raising funds and ensure they are used well by tracking what NGOs do with the funds we allocate to them.
Q6. What do you think are major hindrances for a start-up?
In our limited experience with our own ventures, and from conversations with other entrepreneurs, we feel that startups are especially pained on the following aspects:
Finding and retaining good talent, that believes in the larger vision and is willing to live the startup life with the team is a huge challenge for all startups today.
- Legal & Other Compliance
While not as much a painpoint for startups as something that just gets ignored – this is critical to take care of from Day 1. Apart from just potentially being a whole lot of trouble later, it often becomes a tumbling block when one starts raising funds.
Q7. How do you see the Indian entrepreneurial scene shaping up in the recent future? And Bold Kiln’s role in shaping it up in particular?
The Indian entrepreneurial scene, so to speak, is very nascent in my opinion. We are and will continue to see major growth – both in startups that make it big within India and globally, as well as entrepreneurship as an accepted career choice for people across talent pools and ages.
One hopes that this growth will be backed by government and policy support too – only time will tell. We at Bold Kiln see ourselves becoming a facilitator and driver of a part of this growth, ensuring that people who are starting up find the support, the products and services they need in as painless a manner as possible.
Q8. You work as director, Sales & Marketing at Class Matrix. Can you elaborate on your key learnings from that role?
ClassMatrix is an impact measurement platform for educational institutions right from government schools to NGOs. It is built as a SaaS platform.
The learnings from leading the Business Development efforts have been multi-fold:
- Free pilots help convert potential clients
A free pilot is one of the best sales tools to aid conversion of interested parties into paying clients.
- Invest in making it easier for your clients to use your product
We held long training sessions for the client teams, often introducing them to technology and laptops from scratch. This investment both ensures that the people who are going to use it are able to well, and will support you recognising your level of investment.
Often, during sales processes, it comes naturally to try very hard to push what you’re selling without listening to what the client really wants / what their concerns are. Actively listening ensures you can get on the same page with them – prove to them how your solution meets their needs and concerns addressed.
Q9.You lead by example and an inspiration to many ambitious minds. What would be your advice for the young MBAs and entrepreneurs in making?
I am flattered and honored to potentially be an inspiration to others, if at all I am.
My advice isn’t too complicated:
- Execution is key. Beyond a point, stop brainstorming for the perfect solution, just go build one that works.
- It’s always a good time. You’ll always find enough reasons to delay starting / taking a plunge. YES, think them through and take a rational decision. NO, don’t just delay it and keep pushing it beyond a point.
Raising funding is NOT the objective. It is but a milestone along the way. One celebrated far more than how important it is. Work to build your business, the money will figure its way to you.
Q10. If you are to list down 3 things that an entrepreneur should keep in mind, what would that be?
Off of the top of my head:
- Never shy away from talking about your idea and your vision. You don’t have to reveal trade secrets and aspects pivotal to how you’re going to make it click – but the more you talk about your idea – the more people know if it and your brand, and more importantly that much more feedback you’re bound to get from people.
- Hiring is one of the most painful, time taking and annoying things you will do. And it’s worth all of that pain, a few times over, if you can get it right.
- Create and discuss long term plans, projections and targets with your co-founder(s) and key team. The clarity you build for yourself as well as in your immediate team will ensure your success.