Experiencing Failure

On 12 Aug ’17, after creating a lot of curiosity amongst the cohort members, we were given a task to complete a business idea into reality in 100 hrs.

Boundaries were:

  1. Task should be completed in 100 hrs
  2. No capital expenses
  3. Only operating expense to be used.
  4. Maximum seed fund not more than 5000 INR
  5. Minimum 2 members will work in a team.

Some of us were very excited about this task as they had already succeeded in a previous task of money multiplier. Compared to it this task sounded easier due to more time given than previous one. Few of us were confused and skeptical about its success.

Many ideas were put forth as what can be done in 100 hrs.  Considering it was a long weekend with 15th Aug and Janmasthmi holidays, we wanted to use this opportunity. So, it was decided to conduct an event where we would sell customized t-shirts and theme based imitation jewelry with a photo booth wherein customers would choose from various Indian traditional attire and get photos clicked with family and friends. For kids, we planned some clay modelling activity. In order to attract the crowd a dental check-up was also planned, since we had a dentist amongst our members. Venue decided were Japanese Garden and St Vincent Palloti college. Considering we had friends in St Vincent Palloti college we were very confident about its success.

Two teams were made. Team A was to procure t-shirts and Jewelry, Team B to arrange Photo booth, conduct activities and dental check-up. Responsibilities were given to each member. An advert of the event was made which was to be circulated amongst friends via social media.

with-zenda But before we could go ahead with our plans, our main venue, place we all had high hopes was cancelled as they were having exams. There was not sufficient time to change the advert and circulate it in social media.

On procuring all the inventory we were supposed to meet at 5:00 pm at Japanese Garden. Team B for photo booth was ready by 4:00pm, with their costumes and DLSR camera. Only thing needed was a table. We didn’t think of background panel due to time constrains. The team A, responsible for procuring t-shirts and jewelry got a setback as both t-shirts and Jewelry were not available at the said time.  The Photo booth team was asked to wait for another hour until the first team could think of something else.

What could be done at such short notice when our plans had collapsed! It was decided to sell tea, a special kind of green tea which the first team had procured. Now it again took time to arrange for inventory and reach the venue on time.  It was past 7 pm when finally, they were ready with different flavors tea what was called as “Sulemani chai”.

But by 7 pm all-natural light was lost so photo booth cannot function. Also, it was almost the gardens closing time. We managed to sell few cups of tea, but was not enough.

14/8/17  Day 2.

Japenese Garden in Nagpur is a hub for morning walkers, laughter clubs and various exercise groups, an ideal place to sell tea. So it was decided to meet there next morning by 6 am. But the team members were not awake till 6 am. By the time they reached the garden it was almost 9 am. They could sell some tea, but still was not enough to recover the investment. Again, for evening same venue was decided for Photo booth and tea stall.

Photo booth team arrived at 5 pm. But were send back by the Garden guards as we didn’t have any permission from garden authorities to carry out an event there. It never occurred to us that a permission will be needed. Even after being fully prepared and on time Photo booth couldn’t happen due to one silly mistake. So, with heavy heart we had to return the costumes as their rent was 1100 INR for 24 hrs. Keeping the costumes another day would have doubled the rent and by now we had no hopes of earning the returns. Tea stall team had still not arrived at the venue.

15/8/17 Day 3.

With Photo booth cancelled and short of 3 members, we just had the “ Sulemani chai” to sell. So now a stall was arranged at Lemon school of Entreprenuer (LSE) campus. It did well but still could not recover the invested amount. We had time till next day 2 pm. So now an exit strategy was planned. We were to sell out all the inventory that was procured, including the clay pots in which we served tea

16/8/17 Day 4.

So with heavy heart and bowed heads we entered the activity area of LSE to reflect on the task we just completed or say failed to complete. Each of us were made to share our experiences and reflect on what we learned in the process. On hearing our experiences our Mentor Mr Deepak Menaria Sir, was happy about it, we didn’t know why, he said that, this task was meant to be a failure, how else would you have learnt so many aspects of yourself and of being an entrepreneur?  Explaining further he asked us to list the highlights of the task, Learnings we got and list out what not to do.

Highlights were:

  1. Lack of microlevel budgeting
  2. Poor Time management.
  3. No Advertising
  4. Documentation was missing: Team A never took bills for the raw material that they purchased.
  5. Planning issues (time constraints)
  6. Poor work management
  7. Team management issues: everyone was doing his own thing, we had no direction.
  8. Processing of the task was missing
  9. Consumer Knowledge
  10. Insufficient planning
  11. Overcoming personal constrains
  12. Risk taking abilities.

Anchoring to one thought was missing. We never appointed a team leader. With no one to navigate us, we all did what we felt right, thus, everyone going in different directions. Each of us had our own assumptions and validations on the given task.

What we learned: take away from 100 hrs

  1. Never to rely on ‘Jugaad.’
  2. Team leader to navigate the teamwork is must.
  3. Sell the customer not the beneficiary.: we only had to convince one family member/ person in a group buying tea. once convinced he would buy it for all.
  4. Take the reviews from the beneficiary: If beneficiary is happy the customer will send more.
  5. Plan according to whole aspects
  6. Team must be directed towards one goal.
  7. Regular meeting is very important for better communication.
  8. Time management is crucial to deliver product in time.

On listing, all this we realized the true meaning of Learning through Reflection. Truly, as our mentor said we would not have learnt all these basics of entrepreneurship without facing failure, and it’s good that it happened at this early stage. Learning through failure was beautifully explained through this task. In the end, What we lost was very insufficient as compared to what we learned. A true purpose of learning through reflection.