“If we operate with our blinders on, focused only on what’s going on inside of our four walls, we run the risk of missing out on opportunities that can arise where you least expect them.”~ Rana el Kaliouby, the founder and CEO of Affectiva
15 years ago, Kunal, a student at The Wharton School, walked into one of his management lectures. He found a grey-haired, happy gentleman talking to his professor in front of the class.
“The class starts. And completely blows me away. This gentleman is gregarious, animated, excited, running between the rows of the amphitheatre style seating. He is not using notes – talking fast about how innovation in the world works. What entrepreneurship means and what it takes. I left the class completely and absolutely inspired. I had decided. I wanted to be an entrepreneur.”
A few years later, Kunal had taken up a job at Microsoft in Seattle, while figuring out his entrepreneurship plans on the side. As he remembered that the said gentleman was an ex-Microsoft executive from the 80s and lived in the same city, he decided to send him a cold email introducing himself.
To his surprise, the 22-year-old got a response in 30 mins, with an invitation to meet for lunch at a Malay restaurant nearby. They continued meeting each other at the same restaurant once every quarter. With no agenda on the line, all they did was keep having “fun, inspiring conversations”.
Note that this man was 25 years older than him, and Kunal had nothing of value to offer him, apart from conversations.
Soon, his H1B visa got rejected and Kunal had to leave the US right away. During their last Malay lunch, Kunal spoke about his plan to start a coupon book business with a friend from high school.
“He smiled and just said, ‘Let me know if I can help in any way in your journey.'”
Two months go by, and Kunal realised that his new startup needed to pay a hefty advance to the printing press, to publish the first batch of coupon books. With him having invested his entire savings already and with a non-existent angel investor scene in India (this was in 2017), Kunal had a sudden idea to reach out to his “friend” from the US. He got on a call with the gentleman and asked for ideas to raise funds for the printers.
“I finished & don’t think a second passed that I heard back from the other end of the line. ‘I want to support you. I will invest.’ A long pause at my end. Not only because I was surprised. But also I couldn’t talk while I had an ear-to-ear smile on my face and tears in my eyes.”
Within a few weeks, the startup received the funds it needed to kickstart its journey. The gentleman is Kenneth Glass, one of the very first investors of Kunal Shah’s now well-renowned Indian company, Snapdeal.
Serendipity, or “Opportunities for meaningful collisions”, as Zappos founder Tony Hseih likes to call it, are truly underrated yet powerful means to grow as an entrepreneur.
And the best part is how simple it is to engineer serendipity.
All it takes, is the willingness to stray slightly from your well-laid plans every now and then, the openness to new people, experiences, and conversations, and the smartness to spot and make meaningful connections in those conversations.
“I think you can create your own luck. The key is to meet as many people as you can and really get to know them. If you’re in an environment where you’re always running into people, the chances of one of those collisions being meaningful is maybe 1 in 1,000. But if you do it 100 times more, your odds go up.”
~ Tony Hseih, Founder and CEO, Zappos
This March, we at SaaSBoomi set out to create a platform for such opportunities of meaningful collisions for SaaS founders.
SaaSBoomi Social, the first of its kind, agenda-free meetup series has proven to be a phenomenal success – five cities, 650+ attendees, 2000+ connections, and a whole host of extremely pleased SaaS founders.
We believe that we have stumbled upon an impactful event format, and more importantly, have realised the incredible value of organic, genuine, and open conversations and connections – not just for the benefit of SaaS but for life in general.
And this edition of MRR is dedicated to this wonderful discovery.
On behalf of Team SaaSBoomi
For years, building a growth engine has been an Achilles heel for SaaS leaders in India
Let’s turn a weak link into our forte. With lessons and insights from successful GTM leaders at SaaSBOOMi Growth.
Latest on the SaaS Stories
- It takes a village to build a company. It takes many villages to build a community. [SaaSBoomi Blog]
We found an opportunity to experiment with a new event structure we’ve never tried before. And we’re thankful that we did. In this post, Avinash Raghava shares our playbook for SaaSBOOMi Social.
- The ‘serendipity mindset’: how to make your own luck [The Guardian]
Seeing meaning in the unexpected can help turn mistakes into opportunities, says researcher Dr Christian Busch.
- It’s time to re-examine the office-serendipity theory of innovation [Ambition & Balance, by Doist]
One of the biggest concerns about remote work is that there’s no more chance encounters. But is that really what drives innovation?
Latest on the SaaS Podcasts
- Ketan Kapoor of Mettl on connecting the dots looking backwards [SaaSBoomi Podcast]
Hindsight isn’t just a luxury, as many believe. For founders, hindsight or the ability to look back at the events and learn from them with blunt honesty, is priceless. Just ask the second-time founders such as Ketan Kapoor, the co-founder of Mettl, who sold his startup to Mercer after a long, slow burn.
- On remote collaboration, finding serendipity, and the art of deliberate work [Distributed Podcast]
Matt Mullenweg interviews Jack Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of Twitter and Square. They discuss how both companies have embraced remote collaboration, the underrated value of deliberate work, and how questioning preconceived models from the get-go can change everything.
- Create your own serendipity [The Rework Podcast]
Deldelp Medina of Black & Brown Founders and Michael Berhane of People Of Color In Tech, talk about the ongoing work of building intentional communities in tech and modeling what it means to truly trust and support each other.
From the Community
Disha, our resident enabler, aka wearer of multiple hats. From marketing to website, to community, to events, you’ll find Disha’s contribution in several functions here. Disha moved from a Senior Marketing role at Internshala to SaaSBOOMi as our second full-time fellowship hire. The decision to join SaaSBOOMi was mainly driven by curiosity, she says. She was curious about what motivates the community to volunteer with so much commitment and keep paying it forward. And she did find her answer soon enough.
In one of our events in Bangalore, the founder of a nine-month-old legal tech startup approached me to help him get connected to a VC. He said they’d already written to all the major VC funds and couldn’t get through. I simply connected him with Avinash, who then scheduled a call with him. Later, once the event concluded, the founder came up to me and thanked me for my help. It was a small gesture from my side, the easiest thing I could’ve done. But the satisfaction and joy I saw on the founder’s face made it worth so much more.
At SaaSBOOMi, you can actually witness the first-hand impact of your work on people’s lives, and that’s one of the best feelings you could ever experience.