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A journey into the entrepreneurial world

By Sahana Sundar

I would like to convey through this write-up, a few of the thoughts and experiences shared by three veterans who are now entrepreneurs. The veterans are Wing Commander Satyam Kushwaha, Lt Cdr CV Prakash, and Col Dinesh Mudri. The three hours discussion that went on during the webinar was insightful giving a lot of takeaways and encouragement to service personnel who contemplate becoming entrepreneurs.

As Director of the Indian Space Association, Winco Satyam brings multi-disciplinary domain knowledge as well as experience which is essential for handling multi-dimensional complexities related to hi-tech areas like Space including Defence Space, Geospatial, and Aerospace Defence. As an Entrepreneur, he also undertakes technology development in areas of quantum security. He has immense experience in areas relating to paved new paths in space research and development. He has created an online collaborative thin-tank platform called KRANTII (Knowledge, Resources, Analytics, Networks, Technology, Innovation & Integration) for Nation Building Activities. This platform deals with multiple themes relating to Policy, Technology, Legal & Policy Issues, and Societal and Public Issues impacting India’s National Interest.

Nation first being his motto, he says, if something has to be done, it has to be done and it can be done only when the mission is driven by the soul. The fire of the mind should become Mission for Life and execute with full passion. The country can be proud of us only when we are constant contributors, he says.

He also emphasized teamwork. “One person cannot do all. Having the right team is everything because it is the team that works collaboratively to deliver outcomes. I am not the smartest person in the world but I can pick the smartest colleagues and ensure imbibing value system in my team while they execute the Vision” says the Wing commander.

As he proceeded he also brought out the importance of decision-making. We all understand that reading extensively makes good decisions happen, reducing abstractness and increasing the interaction of the subject with the ecosystem.

He further said that organizations may not always provide a conducive environment always for career growth. Circumstances can vary and there could be instances wherein a person has to choose between career growth or the value system that we believe in. While success and growth are important, what's more, important is the journey that one follows to achieve it. This journey can be made more sustainable and acceptable, only when we make choices as per our value systems. Wing commander was proud to say that he was an out of box thinker and he preferred this over conventional thinking. which he successfully used while making assessments in geo-intelligence using Satellite imagery.

I would like to bring in here the experiences shared by Lt Cdr CV Prakash an alumnus of the famed National Defence Academy 63rd Course. He was a Submariner in the Indian Navy and was proficient in Torpedoes and Sonar systems and was a specialist Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer. One striking Incident that he related brought me goosebumps. This was when he was a young submariner and his submarine was on a war patrol 30 miles from enemy territory. At one point in the day, he could detect the sound of a typical propeller driven by electric motors while dived at 100 meters below the surface. CV knew the direction from where the propeller sound came from but had no idea of what depth the other submarine was operating at. What was worse was that the enemy submarine also started to ping on their submarine using active sonar and CV knew that possibly his submarine had been detected by the foe. CV reported this to his Captain. The whole crew was in tension because the enemy may have tracked their submarine. The toughest part was gauging the vertical and horizontal separation between the two submarines. This could also be a perfect recipe for an underwater collision too. He explains how his Captain relied on his professional knowledge of underwater sound behavior and took CV’s advice to make several maneuvers to ensure his submarine’s safety as well as evade detection from the potential foe. He explains how his adrenaline rushed and for long hours the crew was on nine pins. Then after about four hours of the cat and mouse game, the enemy submarine stopped pinging and altered course with its propeller sound fading away. All was well that ended well. CV says that during the entire episode the calm of every member of the crew was exemplary and that is what denizens of the deep are known for and wear that pride on their sleeves at all times. CV says that if such kinds of incidents must be narrated in detail, then he would need to write an entire book. As service officers, many such incidents become part of their lives. Finally, he quotes Sir Winston Churchill who once said “Of all the branches of men in the forces there is none which shows more devotion and faces grimmer perils than the submariners”. Unquote.

He said we citizens will have to be the change to bring the change in our nation and the country requires people who are selfless, silent, faceless, and capable.

The Commander is the CEO and Founder of Aggragannya skills and Private limited and he has the proud distinction of being the pioneer of Soilless horticulture in India in the year 2008. His dream is to make 500 smart, scientific, soilless farmers in his lifetime. He has the proud distinction of having trained more than 12500 students in the past 14 years.

“Startup, Skill up and Scale-up” is his message to the entrepreneurial community.

Col Dinesh Mudri(retired) MD and founder of u-shine ventures private limited upheld the ethos of the Army and said integrity, discipline, and devotion to duty are the traits that have to be imbibed in ones’ personality. He also propagated the nation-first ethos and he strongly believed in the words, the honor, welfare, and safety of our country come first always, and every time. The honor, welfare, and safety of the men we command come next. Our own ease, comfort, and safety comes last and every time.

He shared his experiences about the battle of Rasangla pass, where 132 men fought, 127 were killed, and 5 were taken as captives and there was only one person left to relate about the battle of Rasangla.

As he shared his opinion on the differences between the Army and the corporate, he said the corporate has a profit and loss balance sheet and in the army, the balance sheet is of death and life. Further, he said, an army man can control chaotic situations, and whenever there is an upheaval in the business a veteran entrepreneur can handle it very easily. He as a leader of his business will never panic. He also said CEOs from the services can adapt themselves to any changing situations because in an army personnel’s life there is a constant change, either his house is changing, station of duty is changing, education or the schools of his children is changing or he is changing his car and with a lighter note he says that only one thing that can’t be changed is his wife.

So overall the webinar was highly insightful and had a lot of lessons to learn.

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