E Week Yatra Stories
The Big E Test
Jyoti Nivas College Auditorium, Bangalore
Feb 13, 6.30 pm
Do you think you are ready for entrepreneurship?
Before you promptly nod your head, hear what MeritTrac’s Co-Founder and CEO Madan Padaki had to say at the E Week closing ceremony. (A quick note: Launched in 2000, MeritTrac is today India’s largest skills assessment company, having assessed over 4 million candidates for 400 clients, including Google and Fidelity.) “For me, entrepreneurship happened quite quickly, and unexpectedly. We realized in the late 1990s, that as more BPO companies opened offices in India, there would be a growing demand for scientifically designed and delivered assessments to hire quality candidates. Not everyone saw the opportunity, and the three of us, MeritTrac’s co-founders – Mohan Kannegal, Murlidhar S and I - prepared the ‘business plan in gold’ for MeritTrac, to help ‘corporate India recruit’.”
He said that the trio approached over 50 investors and got rejected each time! “We were so clueless, that we asked for a million dollars because it was a fashionable number! One investor pointed out the problem with our B Plan: It didn’t have sex appeal!”.
Padaki added, “It took one honest VC to put us in place. He asked us how many worked full time on the venture. All of us had other jobs, and we wondered aloud how we could give them up before the money came in. A look of fury crossed his face. ‘How can you expect me to give you a million dollars when you cannot sacrifice your paltry salaries for your venture,’ he asked. It was a wake up call. Someone had to quit, and everyone looked at me. I thought about it for a night, and came up with a new plan.” As a captivated audience listened, he continued “I asked my boss to relieve me for six months so that I could focus on MeritTrac. I told him I join come back if the venture failed. But my boss would have nothing of it. ‘You will fail in three months with this attitude. If you have the guts, give up 100%. Stop looking for a lifeline,’ he told me. That is when I got it. I quit right away, and that’s how MeritTrac got started.”
“You know you are ready to be an entrepreneur only when you are willing to commit 100% to your venture. When you have the guts to throw yourself against it and when you can give what it takes, and sacrifice everything you have. Only then can you build a successful venture,” Madan shared.