The startup story and finding your passion

LEADERS SPEAK : Episode -3
“The startup story and finding your passion” with Mr. Santosh Kotnis CEO & Managing partner SpringUp Capital



Mr. Santosh Kotnis came from a humble background. He was born in a village and went to a government school. He is an IIT-B alumnus and completed his MBA from University of Akron, USA. He has co-founded technology companies, has been an Angel Investor in Unique business models, built/scaled-up start-ups, built a micro-VC fund, raised money, worked as CEO and Business Unit Head. He has contributed towards the growth of the global business in the span of last two decades.


Currently Mr. Kotnis is the CEO and Managing Partner of SpringUp Capital which is aMicro-VC fund, which focuses on spotting, funding, mentoring, and scaling start-ups. Supported by a strong accelerator program, Spring Up enables start-ups across the world to find markets to scale.


An Entrepreneur’s Perspective:

Entrepreneurship is all about starting your own venture from an idea which you nourish and believe in.

So far we witnessed a low social acceptance towards entrepreneurs and their entrepreneurship journey, but things are changing in that space now and startups are earning attention and support from various sources including government, banks, people, family, friends etc.


The most thrilling part about a startup is the journey itself. The satisfaction derived from innovation and solving actual problems is incomparable. Of course, wealth creation forms an important part but the kick which one experiences is in the process of entrepreneurship. It is rewarding as if nurturing a child to grow successfully. It is a creative, intellectual process and every day brings new perspectives and meeting new clients gives you a sense of entrepreneurship.


It is the bitter truth that 95% of startups fail but not attempting for the fear of failure is even worse. Improvising and pivoting the idea and model of a startup is crucial, to be successful in the startup environment. It is a tough and grinding process which takes a lot of courage and teaches how one can bounce back from failure through acceptance. In 1983, Infosys was experiencing near death phenomenon and people were leaving, but the then CEO’s (Narayana Murthy) perseverance and confidence made what Infosys is today. The “journey is tough, and you should be tougher”.


One important question which comes to our mind is how do you know when are you ready?

To this, Mr. Kotnis said that you should be “Mad about your idea” no matter what. You should not be thinking of anything but your startup and its improvisation. It must come from within yourself. “Failure is NOT an option, Take responsibility for your own success”. It seems difficult but yes it can be achieved. Having a startup is like having a baby. Lots of sacrifices have to be made and hard work forms a habit. Seeing the child maturing through your efforts is impeccable. It is a Brutal self-discovery process. While starting a start-up, you have to start with Zero. No matter where you have worked previously or where you have studied from IIT, IIM etc. Lots of lifestyle adjustment and shifts demands acceptance and modesty towards life becomes a practice.


If you are prepared and your answer is YES to face and accept the above situation, go for the dream of having a Start-up. There is no win or lose in the start-up environment and it itself is a “Journey having its own Kick”.

There are plenty of founders who are from non-IIT or non-IIM background like Paytm (Vijay Shekhar Sharma), OYO (Ritesh Agarwal). We need to continue with the same enthusiasm, improve ourselves over our own mistakes. It’s the journey which counts. Confidence is the key for everything. It’s all about improvising your idea and scaling up the business.


Wrong Reasons to Start a Startup:

Group of good friends – Do not start a start-up just because you have a group of friends willing to do so. It has to be more than that.


It looks so cool – Do not start a start-up just because it looks cool. Start only when you have the determination to grow it successful.


“Entrepreneurship is not just seeding a plant, it is building a forest as a whole”


What do successful Entrepreneur have in common?

Self Confidence – Confidence in this context refers to enjoying the journey of start-up irrespective of its results and managing adversities of the life.


Comfortable in asking for help – It’s ok to ask for help from others and meeting people. Being ready to face negativity around you with positivity.


Sense of Freedom and Discipline.


Hardworking and goal oriented (Requires a minimum of 70 to 80 hours of work a week).


Opportunistic and flexible.


Ego lessness – Being ready to face results with positivity.


Three steps to start a startup:



Right Team-Getting people with complementary skills is crucial. The right team makes the difference.


Plan – DNA – Mission – Vision – Plan of execution