Failure is a part of life but, a perspective of moving on and trying to improve is thoroughly achieved by believing in oneself. This is a story of Rishabh Lawania who failed in STD 12 but but he didn’t back down. His journey will truly amaze you.
At the age of 17 when most of the teenagers are trying to figure out their colleges and universities after choosing their field of interest to build career, Rishabh launched his first start-up. He was inspired by greats like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.
He wanted to do something beyond ordinary. Unlike other students, taking some entrance exams for engineering colleges, he launched his first venture the very year he flunked in STD 12.
Since he came from a non-business family, nobody was there to guide or support him. “Nobody expected that I would start a business, much less a technology start-up because I have no technical background what so ever,” recalls Rishabh.
During the gap year, just after his STD 12 board exams he launched his own management company - Red Carpet Events. The company helped organized/ co-organized 70 plus promotional, corporate events across Delhi, NCR, Jaipur. This venture made him realize the power of networking.
“The inspiration to launch a tech start-up came to me during my early years as an independent event organiser. During this phase of my life, I understood the power of networking. At the time, my focus was on connecting with as many entrepreneurs, VCs and investors as I could and understanding from them how to start a business,” Rishabh explained.
Series of unsuccessful attempts
In 2013, he started JusGetIT, a logistic start-up which specialized in delivering groceries. This start-up partnered with more than 30 vendors and shopkeepers and helped them maximize their revenues by offering its tech solutions. the venture, however failed. “This start-up was operational for six to seven months and failed to grow in a way it was envisioned mainly because of lack of understanding of the market & insufficient funds” says Rishabh.
He further added,"Although funding was available to Indian start-up at the time, we were not able to figure out the way to do it. However, we learned a lot. We had reached out to a lot of investors and through that, eventually, learned how to raise funding. That was the time when the entire hyperlocal thing was just starting up in India. Back in 2013-14, Grofers and Bigbasket were at a pretty nascent stage. We figured out that we did not have a cost-effective model," explains Rishabh.
The failure of JusGetIT didn’t stop Rishabh, instead he focused on creating a sustainable business to business tech platform which is also scalable. In 2015, He went to US where he teamed up with techie Keshu Dubey to launch XELER8, his most famous and successful venture.
Xeler8 is a deal sourcing and start-up research platform. Their database acts as a start-up tracker for the global investing community looking to invest in high potential start-ups. Rishabh says, the idea behind Xeler8 came to him when he tried to learn more about his competitors.
“Back then, there was Bloomberg & similar platforms, which had databases of big companies. However, there were not many platforms that focused on start-ups. Even the ones that existed, did not have good coverage when it came to start-ups. This was pretty much a good product market fit,” says Rishabh.
Convinced of the product’s marketability, the Xeler8 team in the US built a beta product and launched it exclusively for certain invite-only angel investors, start-ups and VCs. Within months, the company launched its first product in India.
Xeler8 didn’t just provided basic details such as name of the start-up, founders and investors, but also an estimated valuation of the company. According to Rishabh, this was very tricky as the entire process of evaluation was based on around 16 to 17 parameters and Xeler8 hired a separate team of analysts specifically for this job.
Just after a year Xeler8 commenced its operations, it was acquired by ZDream Ventures, while it was still at the development stage. ZDream Ventures is a Chinese accelerator and venture fund with a start-up incubator in Gurugram.
Many may argue why anyone would sell a start-up so fresh and innovative.
Rishabh on the decision of selling says “With Xeler8, I was a third-time entrepreneur. It should be noted that the start-up was bootstrapped since its launch. From the very beginning, we knew that we had to face the reality that Xeler8 was never going to be a $100 Mn company. We knew the upper cap that we could go to. But, I was aware that I needed to exit from it at the right time.”
Entrepreneur to investor
Following the acquisition of Xeler8, Rishabh joined ZDream venture as COO and the Head of Investment. This was the beginning of his journey as an investor. It was during his role as the COO OF ZDream venture that Rishabh gained a strong understanding of start-up ecosystem across India, japan, and the USA along with the challenges and opportunities. During his short stint at Xeler8, he invested in a small portfolio of Indian companies.
Rishabh stepped down from his job within one year to start another venture with his long-time partner Keshu Dubey and Nayantara Jha in emerging land of Africa.
Latest venture in Africa
Wee Tracker is Rishabh’s latest venture. It’s a global Tech media which specializes in African ecosystem. It aims to nurture start-ups in the continent in a three-way holistic fashion: inform, educate and invest. The start-up will serve as a platform that strives to bridge the gap that currently exists between emerging markets like Africa and developed ecosystems across the world.
As part of the skill development programme, Lawania and his partners are planning to take a group of African entrepreneurs to China and another batch to India in June of this year.The company is looking to back start-ups that are post-proof of concept and are trying to solve a local problem with immediate social impact.WeeTracker already has up to 75 entrepreneurs, mentors and product manager across diverse sectors, andis currently said to be in the process of raising a $20 Mn fund.
Inspiration to young generation
Dreams play a significant role in one’s life. Dreams not only helps in survival but also in blooming.
Grads from IIT, IIM have been treated as the holy grail across India and more so are known for their start-up ecosystem. They are considered like exclusive club for start-up. Our generation is condemned for its vanity, lack of focus but some gem overwhelms us in all ages with their determination and focus. Rishabh Lawania is one such name, from flunking in STD 12 to dropping out of MBA to becoming a millionaire at just 24. His extraordinary story is truly inspirational.