White Riders

Here is a nice company started by a fellow batchmate from the Indian Institute of Management, Kaustubh Mishra. It is called White Riders- It is a relative pioneer in adventure travel. Note these bikers are well behaved MBA’s and imparting Team Building Management lessons along the way. I caught up with Kaustubh long enough for him to tell me why he chose the adventure travel business.

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Ajay – What has been the story of your career and what message would you like to send to young people aspiring for MBA’s or just starting their careers?

Kaustubh- My first job was as a peon with SPCA, handling paperwork, dishes, etc. My Father wanted to see me getting a bicycle from my own money and that is why it happened. Thanks to Papa, I learnt some important lessons while serving people. During graduation I was doing odd jobs like a faculty at a computer institute, freelance programmer, etc.

The first experience of a large organization came @ Bharti Telecom, where I did my summers. It was a market research project and I remember sleeping in an interviewee’s cabin during a survey. After my PGDM from IIML, I got into Tech Pacific, and then ICICI then ABN AMRO. Please visit my linkedin profile for more details

My message to people doing their MBA is simple – MBA is not the end, it is just a via media for you to get into a good career. Get into an MBA because YOU want to do it and not because everyone else is doing it. There are so many careers options in front of you, follow your heart.

For people starting their careers, just 7 words – realize the power within & follow your dreams.

Ajay- Why did you create a startup? Why did you name it White Collar company ( there was an ad of a business school reunion which had the same name). What is your vision for White Collar Company
Kaustubh
– When I was doing my job, I was always over achieving targets, but after some time a rut sets in. I also realized that complete freedom and maximum returns for my efforts were absent. There were so many things, ideas, etc simmering inside me but I could not do anything inside. To do all that, I had to venture on my own and venture I did. So the biggest reason I started my own company was to put my ideas into practice.

White Collar is a name generally associated with knowledge. I first wanted to name it ‘white’ but the name, domain name, trademarks etc were not available. White denotes knowledge. Our goddess of knowledge and learning ‘Saraswati’ is dressed in white. As all my ventures are essentially about knowledge and learning, so white collar. And White Collar Biker sounds cool and very oxymoronish.

I see White Collar Company to be known as the cradle of new ideas, innovation and creativity in the field of knowledge. A university is next in some years.

Ajay- What are the key learnings that you have learnt in this short period? name some companies in the United States that are similar to your company. What do you think is the market potential of this segment.
Kaustubh-
We are 3 industries – adventure tourism, corporate training and hr advisory. While in the first and the last there are people doing nearly the same thing (I would not say exactly, because we do have our USPs) in corporate training – White Collar Company is the only company in the world conducting management training through motorcycles

With innovation and RoI being extremely important in training, the market potential is huge. In adventure tourism also the potential is great as we are waking upto it. In consultancy as we operate in SME space, the potential again is very large.

It has been a short period to have big learning, but I have been applying learning I had in my previous jobs to this like vendor management, marketing channel management, etc. But yes, I learnt the art of hard bargain and negotiations during this short period.

Ajay- Is an MBA (IIM or Otherwise) necessary for success. Comments please.
Kaustubh-Ajay, your question here says success. Before answering this question, I would first differentiate between 2 successes we are talking about. Success in corporate life is different from success as a entrepreneur.

For being successful as a corporate executive, MBA to a certain extent is good. It gives you certain kind of thought processes and also a platform for future success.

However, if we talk of a successful entrepreneur, I personally do not think MBA will matter much. In fact I often talk of the ‘1st of the month’ syndrome – this is the comfort of getting a handsome amount deposited as your salary every month. When you get into that comfort zone, it becomes very hard to come out. Larger the amount, harder it gets. For a successful entrepreneur – perseverance, self belief, ability of trust and ability to take risk is very important. I doubt if any MBA is going to give you that. The very same thought processes, way of thinking that help you succeed in corporate life, need to be challenged as an entrepreneur.

Ajay- Whats your vision for your web site. Which website is a good analogy for it? Why should anyone visit the website?

Kaustubh- I am not a technical person, but having said that, I see my website to be the focal point of my business. I myself built my website using widgets, etc and going forward all my business will happen from the site. By 2010, we will put a strong CRM and PRM on the website, thus enabling all business processes to be routed through the website. Like I said, I am not a techie, but I think Web 2.0, participative nature of the internet and cloud computing are going to help me save and optimize. We already have an online chat built in site, any customer can come and get more details about our programs.

Going forward, customers will be able to do bookings themselves on the site. Vendors will be able to log in do all necessary business through website and we plan to implement SFA for our employees. I believe this answers the vision and why should anyone visit my site.

Ajay-What is your favorite incident in this short period of your startup. What were the key learnings. Are you seeking venture capital funds.

Kaustubh- For customers, I thought the typical profile that will come will be young males, I was delighted when a female became our first customer. We have tweaked our marketing strategy and positioning after that.

At this stage my baby is too young and fragile. If I give her crutches to walk, she will never be able to stand up herself and be counted. So while we will go for external funding at some point of time, that time is not now. With our kind of business model, right now we are not ready for the interference of a venture capitalist.

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So if you always wanted to travel to India and have an adventure as well contact Kaustubh at http://www.wccindia.com/rider/R_kaustubh.html and he will show you to be a White Rider too.

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Read more about his company here – http://www.wccindia.com/rider/whywhite.html