Parul Madan is a multi-time founder, angel investor, advisor to startups, has launched startup accelerator programs in the past and with these learnings founded DueDash. DueDash is building AI & data-driven SaaS toolbox for investors, ESO’s and founders to successfully partner with each other with higher efficacy and speed leading up to 40% gain. As an active early-stage investor, she has invested in 40+ start-ups worldwide and as a founder has led companies to successful exits. She has worked in the past with corporations like Ericsson, HP, and German Telecom. She is an engineer and an Alumni of MIT Sloan.
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Table of Contents
Thank you for joining us today. Please introduce yourself to our readers. They want to know you, some of the background story to bring some context to your interview.
Parul Madan: I am a multi-time founder, angel investor and run a small family office. I have launched startup accelerator programs in the past and have screened thousands of startups for investment. I recognized that most founders are reeling under information asymmetry and do not produce signals and data assets that are relevant for investors. Ultimately, they end up self-sabotaging or unable to raise any capital. With these learnings founded DueDash. I had attained the so-called entrepreneurial nirvana but at heart, I am a builder and decided to solve this one problem.
You are a successful entrepreneur, so we’d like your viewpoint, do you believe entrepreneurs are born or made? Explain.
Parul Madan: I don’t think entrepreneurs are born, it is your environmental influence in which you grow that creates that mindset. It could be external or internal. It also depends on how you make choices and decisions. Additionally, do you feel strongly about a problem which troubles you day and night? And, you feel enough burn to do something about it to make a big difference. Entrepreneurship is intrinsic. It depends on what got you into it in the first place. Do you want to own something? Do you want to create an impact? Do you want to change something? These are the driving factors for anybody to make that decision to go on that journey.
If you were asked to describe yourself as an entrepreneur in a few words, what would you say?
Parul Madan: I always saw myself as someone who likes action and I’m very independent in the sense of decision making. I worked in the corporate world in the past, but I was still very willing to venture into the unknown. Did not know what that entailed but I went into these challenges, even without knowing the risk of it. I have never given much thought to the definition of entrepreneurship. My father was a business person, so I grew up in this environment already. I also had to deal with constant challenges, but I know I can do the work and things that I want to do and not what others want from me. A typical standard life was never something I aspired to as I was groomed to a life of independence, experimentation, taking risks. My dad also instilled in me a mindset of always learning. Learning from your mistakes and leveling up from there.
Tell us about what your company does and how did it change over the years?
Parul Madan: From a legal standpoint DueDash is fresh out of the oven. But the work that I have been doing on it for years. DueDash is an AI-driven toolkit for investors and founders to successfully partner up with each other for higher efficacy and speed. DueDash combines all the elements of intelligent deal sourcing, flow management, due- diligence, automation, engagement, and story-worthy insights all rolled into one sleek workspace. This time my approach was slightly different. Instead of solving the business problem inside out, I did outside in. Imagining, developing, and bringing to life the thoughts, the ideas, and polishing every conceivable aspect of the business. Speaking to hundreds of customers to make sure their issues and problem are real and not some delusion at my end. Assembling a team of wonderful colleagues who are out there to make a change in the private capital industry. It is a work in progress and people are coming back to rave reviews on how the product is helping them. It feels great to make an impact.
Thank you for all that. Now for the main focus of this interview. With close to 11.000 new businesses registered daily in the US, what must an entrepreneur assume when starting a business?
Parul Madan: The most important thing is that you are the boss, which is great. But after that epiphany, you will need to learn there are good days and bad days. Every morning you can make the plan, but you will be thrown off your path through daily challenges. Can you endure in an environment where you have to handle new situations again and again? You also need to have a very open mindset when it comes to risk-taking and you need to have a strong stomach, which will handle the everyday challenges and juggle multiple balls. You need to keep your mind and heart in balance, at any point in time. And most important is embracing failure. If you cannot embrace failure then don’t become an entrepreneur.
Did you make any wrong assumptions before starting a business that you ended up paying dearly for?
Parul Madan: As I said, risk and rewards go hand in hand. In hindsight, I admit that I made many not-so-smart decisions. Sometimes in business, some questions allow only one specific answer, such as hiring more people or doing more sales. And then you start looking into, for example, for more sales. The product is not selling. So, you try to hire more people, or lower prices and you later notice you didn’t think through it properly. Some of the early decisions I made were intuitive, and they were working fine, but as the business grows you need to start to think more strategically about certain plans. The biggest learning I took was waiting too long to face certain decisions, such as firing an employee not fitting to the team, which hampers the ongoing processes. Don’t rely too much on other people to make decisions. Might it be partners, investors, advisors, or anybody else? You as a business owner it is your business and you have to make the decision, nobody will do the right thing for you. What you will receive is only opinions and you shouldn’t rely on these alone. See the pros and cons of it and then move forward. In a nutshell, intuition can only get you so far, think strategically and act fast on important decisions.
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what advice would you give yourself and why? Explain.
Parul Madan: You will be on a journey where you will have to make many painful decisions many many times. Examples are you will have to fire people, you will have to make financial cuts, you will have to give up products, you will have to break partnerships. Sometimes we are just not willing to admit when we are wrong. Something that might look good in the short term might have catastrophic results in the long term. The quality of decisions depends on the effort you put into it and you will have to accept that we will make bad decisions and we will pay dearly for it. But we have to create a framework to make decisions to take these quickly and handle and avoid the pain that will come with them. too much on other people to make decisions. Might it be partners, investors, advisors, or anybody else? You as a business owner it is your business and you have to make the decision, nobody will do the right thing for you. What you will receive is only opinions and you shouldn’t rely on these alone. See the pros and cons of it and then move forward. In a nutshell, intuition can only get you so far, think strategically and act fast on important decisions.
What is the worst advice you received regarding running a business and what lesson would you like others to learn from your experience?
Parul Madan: A business partner told me once that I’m too ambitious. And it held me back in that partnership. We have seen enough inspiring entrepreneurs that dared to dream and go bold, and their risk was rewarded. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you cannot do it.
In your opinion, how has COVID-19 changed what entrepreneurs should assume before starting a business? What hasn’t changed?
Parul Madan: Fundamentals of entrepreneurship don’t change, you embrace risk, you embrace challenges, solve problems, and have a positive attitude. All that stays true. What has potentially changed is new business models and new opportunities that have emerged. Many things have moved online, you need to be savvy about the web, digital marketing, digital payment solutions, the processes around selling online, the legal requirements, and all these processes need to be thought through from day one of a business. Change is the only constant. So keep learning and evolving.
What is a common myth about entrepreneurship that aspiring entrepreneurs and would-be business owners believe in? What advice would you give them?
Parul Madan: Many entrepreneurs, especially startup founders, believe that to raise funding from investors a good pitch deck and/or business plan combined with a great oral pitch is enough to raise funding. Hollywood and Shark Tank conditioned us to believe that there is a quick path to fundraising, which is not true. Many entrepreneurs also believe that they are the boss, while in reality, you need to make your customers happy, keep your employees motivated and ensure the success of the company.
What traits, qualities, and assumptions do you believe are most important to have before starting a business?
Parul Madan: Grit, perseverance, tenacity of pursuing your dream or passion. On a practical level, you should have sufficient financial savings to survive for at least six months to a year and some initial capital investments that you can make in your business. If you have a life partner, make sure they are on board and are supportive. And one thing I can say from your experience is that the entrepreneurial journey is a lonely one, you will lose friends as you will not have the same things to care about or talk about, you may have less time for them and you may not be able to relate to them. Surround yourself with people who understand you. Most importantly, you will be working long hours without knowing when and how that success will come.
How can aspiring leaders prepare themselves for the future challenges of entrepreneurship? Are there any books, websites, or even movies to learn from?
Parul Madan: Duedash.com → We have an educational course on DueDash, which is designed to enable founders to spend 5 minutes a day interactively to provoke them to think deeply about each relevant aspect of business building and get them to take action to build great scalable businesses. In addition, I recommend from my reading list – Hacking Growth by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown, Zero to One by Peter Thiel, The Hard Things About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz, and The Customer Funded Business by John Mullins. I like to watch films and there is plenty to learn from. Here are some from my watch list – The Founder, The Big Short, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Social Network, Steve Jobs, Dirty Money, Inside Bills Brain, Something Ventured, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, and American Factory.
You have shared quite a bit of your wisdom and our readers thank you for your generosity but would also love to know: If you could choose any job other than being an entrepreneur, what would it be?
Parul Madan: I would perhaps be a teacher or a coach. Teach entrepreneurship to kids. Early enough to instill entrepreneurial values. For me, it is important to impact people and make people’s lives better. Might I be an entrepreneur or something else, we should strive to do the best for humanity.
Thank you so much for your time, I believe I speak for all of our readers when I say that this has been incredibly insightful. We do have one more question: If you could add anyone to Mount Rushmore, but not a politician, who would it be; why?
Parul Madan: Sadhguru, the Yogi and Mystic from India, because he speaks in a very simple language that resonates with people from all generations that inspires and motivates millions across the globe to live a better and simpler life. He is a former businessman and speaks to businesses, intellectuals, politicians alike around the world and understands the essence of entrepreneurship in the sense of self-initiative, creating an impact and giving it all to improve the livelihood of humans through projects such as the Rally for Rivers project.
Mike Weiss, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Parul Madan for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Parul Madan or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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