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No Shortcuts: Rare Insights from 15 Successful Start-up Founders

No Shortcuts: Rare Insights from 15 Successful Start-up Founders

First Edition

November 2018 | 308 pages | SAGE Response

Won 3rd position in  The Bangalore Business Literature Festival  CK Prahlad Award for Best Business Books 2019

Ranked 100th among 190 countries for ease of doing business, India is not the choicest place for start-ups. Only a handful of founders have been able to beat the odds.

What’s in their journey that can be dissected and emulated?

This curiosity led Nistha Tripathi to pursue these founders, who rose from humble beginnings yet made a dent in the Indian start-up universe, including a couple of founders from the Silicon Valley. This book is a record of her 18-month odyssey.

In her incisive one-on-one interviews with 15 ambitious founders from India, including Girish Mathrubootham, Nithin Kamath, Jaydeep Barman, Gaurav Munjal and Tarun Mehta among others, Nistha uncovers the decisions and insights that led these start-up founders to find their unique roadmap to success.

One thing underlined all the stories—the founders’ belief in ‘No Shortcuts’.

Read the never-heard stories of Freshworks, Faasos, Unacademy, Zerodha, Slideshare, Pulse, Aspiring Minds, Madhouse/Morpheus, Akosha, Ather Energy, Instablogs, Greyb, LikeaLittle, Wingify and Fashiate.

Foreword by Rehan Yar Khan
How to Use This Book?
A Note on the Interviewees
Ideation, Validation and Pivoting
1. Girish Mathrubootham: Freshworks
Customer Service Software #product #marketing #culture #saas

2. Nithin Kamath: Zerodha
Online Trading and Investing Platform #product #marketing #business_model #bootstrapped #fintech

3. Paras Chopra: Visual Website Optimizer (Wingify)
A/B Testing Tool #pivoting #product #marketing #pricing #bootstrapped #saas

4. Nikhil Rasiwasia: Fashiate
E-salesman for the E-commerce Websites #ideation #exit #acquired #ecommerce

Traction and Virality
5. Gaurav Munjal, Roman Saini and Hemesh Singh: Unacademy
YouTube for Learning #traction #product #operations #education

6. Prasanna Sankar: LikeaLittle
Flirting Platform for College Students #traction #product #social_media #failure

7. Nandini and Ankit Maheshwari: Instablogs
Multiblog and Citizen Journalism Platform #traction #product #business_model #acquired #content

Business Model and Fundraising
8. Tarun Mehta: Ather Energy
Electric Scooter Made In India #fundraising #product #hardware

9. Amit Ranjan: SlideShare
YouTube for Presentations #hiring #marketing #acquired

10. Ankit Gupta: Pulse
Mobile App for News Reading #pricing #product #traction #acquired #app

11. Ankur Singla: Akosha
Consumer Complaints Redressal Service #business_model #sales #pivoting #fundraising

Sales and Marketing
Varun Aggarwal: Aspiring Minds
Hi-tech Adaptive Test for Recruitment #sales #hiring #product #analytics

13. Deepak Syal and Chakshu Kalra: GreyB
Patent Research Consulting and Service #sales #marketing #hiring #bootstrapped #intellectual_property

People, Operations and Customer Service
14. Jaydeep Barman: Faasos
End-to-end Delivery Focused Food-on-demand App #hiring #culture #operations #food

15. Sameer Guglani: Madhouse
Netflix for India #hiring #culture #customer_service #fundraising #acquired


“Nistha’s first-person stories make vivid the effervescence that characterizes entrepreneurship in modern India – the twists and turns, the ups and downs, the creativity and sheer exhilaration. Read and enjoy!”

Prof Tarun Khanna, Harvard Business School
Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School; Director, Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute, Harvard University

“Entrepreneurs rarely open up as candidly as Nistha has gotten them to. Kudos to her“

Allwin Agnel,
Allwin Agnel, Founder/CEO at

“Indian startup ecosystem needs relatable inspiration and this book brings that. While it is fascinating to read about Jobs, Musk, Gates, and Zuckerberg, our entrepreneurs can learn more from home-grown entrepreneurs whose challenges and approaches are much relevant to our business models. I was especially fascinated to read the story of Girish Mathrubootham.”

Balaji Viswanathan,
CEO at Invento, Most follower writer on Quora

A fascinating peep into the struggles and successes of varied start-ups that lucidly brings out the diversity of experiences and provides a nuanced introduction to entrepreneurial processes.

Rakesh Basant,
Professor of Economics, IIM Ahmedabad

“This is a “must read” for all entrepreneurs. Nistha has truly captured an authentic perspective of what it takes to build companies in India!“

Prashant Mehta,
Partner, Lightbox

I worked with Nistha for several years—she has a tremendous intellect and a fearless entrepreneurial spirit. This will be a fun read!

Ken Wilson,
CEO, Tower Research Capital Markets

The Indian flavour of entrepreneurship is as creative, vibrant and colourful as the country itself. Part textbook and part tour guide, No Shortcuts captures that flavour in a way that delivers both generalizable lessons and insights into the unique character of Indian entrepreneurs in their environment.

Stuart Read,
Professor, Willamette University

Entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey, and while every entrepreneur learns valuable lessons each day, not everyone’s story comes out to inspire others. These stories are important for all aspiring entrepreneurs in the journey. Nistha has done a great job there. A must-read!

Ashish Tulsian,
CEO at POSist

“A top shelf book for any Indian entrepreneur and dreamer…”

The Pioneer

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ISBN: 9789352808267