Lessons in Business from a Bottom up Urban Entrepreneur

The Food & Beverages Sector is the most segregated and stratified in the country as it ranges from the street corner fast food joint to a reasonable eatery to the ephemeral star hotels.  An eatery has severe quality control limitations as an authorised eatery will have to get about 70 odd registrations and licenses done to open one. The F&B sector is glamorous with the Michelin Star Chefs sexing it up. Anyway the contemporary business media discourse is about eulogizing and manufacturing the myth of the entrepreneur. This post is about recognizing the potential for bottom up entrepreneurship in the ‘R’uban space and unpacking the black box of what makes an entrepreneur tick! (a term coined and popularized by Iconic Singaporean Architect & Urban Planner Tay Kheng Soon and recently quoted by Prime Minister Modi in his first Parliamentary speech)

The protagonist of the narrative is a certain Mr. Shyam who runs his corner store eatery in Gurgaon’s upmarket residential neighborhood, where he cooks and sells every single dish which the costumer demands. Costumer is King for him. Whether it is catering lunch to the office goer in the next block or the student who comes in for the rather oily fried Indian Noodles for an evening snack.   23 year old Shyam looks like a teenager due to his youthful dressing sense and negligible facial hair. His corner shop tries to deploy a modicum  of a restaurant with the napkin, the silver foil container for takeaways, proper cutlery and outdoor cane chairs. Well, the family run store tries its best to attract quality crowd. Shyam once quipped that even if folks are not eating and simply sitting on the outdoor cane chairs, it will give a signal to the prospective buyer that the store has a clientele and hence shall infuse confidence aka validation in the store, that He/She may try out the place. 

Brilliant business insight from a guy who just studied till Grade 6. Education has nothing to do with ability. Smriti Irani will make a great Cabinet Minister. A degree from Harvard or an IIT does not make for a good Entrepreneur or a seasoned politico (read some Mr. Kejriwal). Shyam left his town in Northern part of West Bengal at the age of 14 for Bangalore where he worked in a restaurant and learnt the tricks of the trade. In a few years, he moved to Gurgaon to start his corner store and moved up the social ladder.

Fire in the belly and being open to learning fresh ideas is the key to entrepreneurship. Humility, Drive and Risk taking ability are the traits that have distinguished Shyam from others of his habitus.

Simple Folks, Massive Insights. Entrepreneurship is a transformative social elevator.


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