Mehtab Bhogal made $500,000 doing business on Facebook before he was 22 – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
He followed that up by successfully launching and scaling several bootstrapped direct-to-consumer brands and eCommerce ventures to over 7-figure revenues within 12 months of inception, ranging from a reputation management brand to a men’s hair product company.
Today, Mehtab is only 25 and Co-Founder of the private equity firm Karta Ventures. In this episode, we will examine the uniquely Millennial mindset that that has guided Mehtab and his firm’s approach to building successful businesses. He’ll share their unconventional philosophy related to partnering and finding the right people, as well their specific way tocreate value and drive business growth in today’s business environment.
When Entrepreneurship isn’t a Choice, it’s a Necessity
When Mehtab was still a teenager, he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis and degenerative disc disease. As a result, he couldn't really work a conventional job, which meant he had to think a little bit more creatively about how to generate money. The back pain pretty much ruled out a classic nine-to-five job. He also dropped out of college which made job prospects challenging.
However, this outside-the-box perspective has become ingrained in the way he does business, and the businesses he invests in and advises are better for it.
The Millennial ‘Business’ Mindset
Mehtab and his partners at Karta Ventures all share a common philosophy when it comes to building and scaling successful businesses. It starts with ensuring they are delivering value to the businesses they invest in and, fundamentally, the customers they are trying to serve.
And if they don’t feel like they can deliver optimal value, they will recommend someone who will because, for them, being honest and transparent has been the best way to make money. There is this fulfillment by working with others that they can truly learn from.
“It's not really about the money. It's a nice side effect, but it's more about having the opportunity to work with really smart people, inspiring people, and getting to learn from them; just kind of helping them do what they're doing and assist them on their mission.”
Another core belief that Mehtab and Karta Ventures has is the value and necessity in taking risks.
“We see it as more risky to not be taking risks and learning. It's better for us to lose money and have learnt a really good lesson than for us to have not taken that risk, and potentially risk losing our whole business later because we weren't constantly learning and iterating. That's a big thing for us.”
That isn’t to say that Mehtab or other Millennials are fearless, however. They do have fear, but it’s related to losing an entire business because they didn’t spend the time to learn.
So through this notion of testing and learning they get more information at every step of the process, which helps them pivot faster and more reliably get to the outcome desired in the end.
An Unconventional (Yet Practical) Approach to Processes and People
From Mehtab’s point of view, starting and growing a strong business doesn’t necessarily start with a significant amount of capital. In fact, he and his partners believe quite the opposite. It’s this laser-focused approach to microtesting that guides their approach. Being data-driven is foundational to how Mehtab and his partners have grown their own respective businesses so that’s the process and mentiality they impart with their investment companies.
“So, to get it working positively, you start with small tests. Like you shouldn't just go all in on one channel. It rarely works. It just seems a little asinine when you can run a small test first and put a few more hours of work into it to avoid burning everything... That's our general mindset when we approach anything.”
Building any successful venture also starts with having the right PEOPLE, not ideas, tactics, or even strategies, in place. The decision-makers have to be aligned around the same goals to get a good fit and create a culture that will last.
And Mehtab and his team have always had a non-conventional approach to forming business relationships and finding talent. It doesn’t involve face-to-face discussions or even a series of interviews to determine if they are match. They apply a test and learn approach to hiring talent as well because, for them, there’s no other way to really can’t assess whether that individual meshes with their pace, culture, and passion.
“I've just found the interview, typically, it's not a great indicator of how someone will fit in culturally, so we try to structure things for that. If they have to go, they can go quickly – or vice versa, to where if we want them more involved, we can get them more involved very fast.”
The idea is to try to quickly evaluate that person in a real scenario to see if, culturally, they're a good fit for both parties and deciding to cut ties quickly versus letting this potentially drag on.
Because for them, you don't know what will work and what won't work until you try.
Don’t get stuck doing things or thinking about things in the ways they have always been done. Doing what’s practical or logical may seem unconventional.
Being honest and transparent really saves you time and money.
Taking risks is necessary to learn and iterate.You get information every step of the way and that helps you move and pivot faster in order to reliably get to the outcome you want.
When you take risks, take measured risks by doing small tests and not betting the house.
You shouldn’t race to failure – but at the same time, fear of failure shouldn’t hold you back from taking risks. While most of our business ideas will fail, be more strategic around the approach – create structure around how you take, assess, and manage risk to limit your downside while increasing your upside.
Get to know your own risk tolerances , as that's just part of the whole business, and understand that what you're comfortable with may be different than others – yet neither way is better than the other.
Building a strong business requires being data-driven and that’s done through microtesting. This ensures everyone “doesn't really make decisions based on emotion. They focus more on, ‘Hey, this is what our customers are saying, so we should do it.’ We're, obviously, not smarter than our customers.”
It also helps you get around capital constraints, as it ensures you are doing things cost effectively.
When it comes to the people part of the business, having your team not being co-located is not an inherent inhibitor.
There are different ways to assess whether the talent you are seeking will fit with your culture that don’t involve the traditional interview process. In fact, it may not be practical or efficient to go through multiple rounds of interviews. Trying out potential talent may be the best approach, but make sure to cut ties quickly if it doesn’t work out.
You don't know what will work and what won't work, especially on the investment side, until you try.
Learn more at http://kartaventures.com/
Connect with Mehtab on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mehtab-bhogal/