Nilesh Patel heads the Bengaluru-based company, LeadSquared. He is a serial entrepreneur who sold his first company to the US based Symphony Teleca, to acquire funding. He is a dynamic leader, who believes that perseverance and financial literacy are crucial to becoming successful.
Scripbox: Why did you launch LeadSquared?
Nilesh: Before starting LeadSquared I was with Symphony Teleca. I was leading their global demand generation. My co-founders and I started with a very basic idea of helping companies with lead generation.
We had two kinds of customers – companies who sold to businesses (B2B) and companies or organizations that sold to consumers or individuals (B2C). In serving these customers we identified several gaps in sales and marketing tools vis-à-vis the needs of the B2C segment. The market opportunity offered by addressing those gaps was the key motivation to build LeadSquared marketing and sales automation software.
Scripbox: Were you financially ready for the project, and if yes what was your source of funding?
Nilesh: The co-founders (Sudhakar and Prashant) and I, started a company called Proteans. It was a product engineering services business with customers across North America and Europe. Proteans was bought by Symphony Teleca. The funds we earned from that exit was one key source of funding. We also raised angel funding to ensure that our venture is adequately financed.
Scripbox: Did you invest before taking the decision to go on your own?
Nilesh: I calculated the amount of capital I will need to fund the business and take no salary for at-least 3 to 4 years. It has been over 4 years now and the plan has worked out, thanks to the initial planning and our angel investors who backed the company with capital.
Scripbox: Did you have a plan in mind about how to manage your financial needs before starting the project?
Nilesh: The first thing I did was to buy a house and ensure I don’t have any running EMI. Secondly, I ensured that I have enough capital to meet expenses of running the house. Third, I planned to have enough cash available for my child’s schooling for few years and to meet unplanned expenses.
Overall, I made sure that I have enough liquidity available to fund the business.
Scripbox: If you had to sacrifice in terms of lifestyle, how did you deal with the new reality?
Nilesh: I was raised in a middle-class farmer family. It has been clear to me from the very beginning that I must earn before I spend. After making exit from my first venture (Proteans), I was lucky to have enough capital available at disposal. With careful money planning I largely avoided any material impact on lifestyle.
Scripbox: How important was money when it came to happiness?
Nilesh: Some people will disagree, but money for sure offers short term happiness. Often though the want of it makes you unhappy when you don’t get it.
Nilesh: I nibbled with stock market and caught the fancy of futures and options, short selling, etc. Needless to say that I lost money. It was an expensive lesson to learn. The stress free route to making money in the stock market is through investing in mutual funds. I lost money by investing in poorly managed funds. So, it is important to choose the right funds, in order to grow your money in the long term.
This new series by Scripbox talks about how entrepreneurs are turning their dreams into reality. We will focus on the financial aspects of their journey and how their relationship with money helped them realise their entrepreneurial dreams.