"I firmly believe one should have a couple of years of work experience before launching a startup," says FLAME alumnus Rohan Wekhande. After completing his PGDM, he gathered experience in different business areas by working with organizations in varied domains. Then in 2016, realizing and researching a gap in the fitness lifestyle market in India, he launched Fitster5. The brand catering to fitness enthusiasts has seen tremendous success in a short time. This chat offers a peek into the mind of an entrepreneur as he reveals his startup success mantra.
Identifying market needs
Rohan informs that though there was a growing awareness about fitness and looking after oneself, new-age fitness brands were absent in India a few years ago. We only had low-cost traditional brands or expensive multinational brands, he adds. "The choices of millennials were also rapidly changing as they wanted quality products that fit their budgets. We wanted to meet that need with our fitness lifestyle brand that has uber-cool designs with premium quality at a decent cost. The philosophy of the brand is that you have to work out while you are not working out, and it is reflected in the range of products we have," he confirms proudly.
What does it take to be an entrepreneur?
Understanding market trends, collaborating with the best Indian and international product designers, and rely on a robust global supply chain has made Fitster5 a success. Interestingly, before launching the brand, Rohan gained hands-on experience in diverse business areas and highly recommended it to future entrepreneurs. "The most important part of entrepreneurship is team building and people management. When you work in organizations, you understand how employees think and how to spot talent. These learnings are stepping stones in your journey towards building a startup," he offers practical advice.
Nurturing entrepreneurial minds
Rohan believes that they don't lead to successful ventures though one might have certain natural entrepreneurial traits. According to him, entrepreneurs are made by honing one's skills, education, and finding the best mentors. "Even if you are born in a business family and have a natural flair for entrepreneurship, I would highly recommend polishing your skills through education and mentorship. It will offer you a completely new dimension to look at entrepreneurship," he speaks from experience. He remembers his time at FLAME, which not only offered him fresh perspectives but allowed him the space to reconnect with his creative side.
The entrepreneurial FLAME
For Rohan, his time at FLAME was a revelation. He was a student of the second PGDM batch, and he claims to have benefited from phenomenal peer learning on campus. He was mentored by faculty members, who encouraged him to tap into his creativity. "This pursuit of creativity has helped me in my journey as an entrepreneur. The whole ecosystem around FLAME teaches you to find innovative and creative solutions to your problem; that is the crux of being an entrepreneur. During my time on campus, we started the Kurukshetra festival, and that has been the biggest entrepreneurship lesson in my life," he says, looking back fondly.
Rohan has gained from each of these experiences and leveraged them to carve out his path to success in his entrepreneurial journey.