Saturday, January 14, 2017

Author Interview: Venkatesh Iyer, Author of My Journey With Vada Pav

About the Author:

Venkatesh Iyer is the Founder and CEO of Goli Vadapav, India’s largest national ethnic fast food chain.
From Finance to food, with over 15 years of experience in corporate finance and investment banking, Venkatesh Iyer has been instrumental in helping entrepreneurs translate ideas into story boards using his unique strength of critical thinking, imagination and communication.
One fine day, he decided to change his course and create what was then called a very creative food revolution! His ultimate dream has been of “corporatization” of the humble Vada Pav and to see Vada Pav as a brand amongst the pizzas and burgers of the world. He’s a visionary par excellence who sees things beyond the obvious and it is this attitude that made his dream turn into reality!
He has been invited as an inspirational speaker and delivered more than 250 talks on Goli Vadapav story in India and abroad at various large entrepreneurial summits and business schools like Harvard, IMD Switzerland, ISB Hyderabad, etc.



When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
Before I launched GoliVadaPav in 2004, I was a corporate finance professional helping businessmen and entrepreneurs to raise funds from institutions. Whenever, I pitched a company or a business to financers, I always narrated the story behind the brand and what they are trying to accomplish. My friend and also the co-founder of GoliVadaPav, ShivdasMenon, would take care of the hard facts and numbers. My point being that I have always been a storyteller of brands, entrepreneurs and their journeys. The idea behind documenting Goli’s journey is to connect with entrepreneurs out there who have lived through doubtful moments or are going through a difficult phase in their business or even waiting to start their business – That if I can do it, so can you.

What motivates you to write and where does your inspiration come from?
My motivation and inspiration comes from the fact that our business model has managed to create many entrepreneurs in the process. More than 300 franchise partners are Golipreneurs who have made the brand ‘Goli’ stronger with every passing day.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
The idea was in the works for quite some time because I always wanted to document my journey for others to know that breaking away from the beaten path never gets easier and that is no reason for anyone to not to do it over and over again.

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
Every author’s work is inspired from the fact as to how best he can communicate his story –fictionally or non-fictionally. This book “My Journey with VadaPav” is basically a documentation of my journey using ‘Vadapav’ as a metaphor to throw light on how our Swadeshi items are no less a product that can be made in to a ‘brand’ in the global market.

What opportunities have being an author presented you with and share those memories? (i.e. travel, friends, events, speaking, etc...)
In addition to being a full time entrepreneur, I have been invited in the past to talk about my journey with budding entrepreneurs and management students by some of elite colleges in India and internationally like Harvard, IMD Switzerland, ISB Hyderabad, SP Jain, Welingkar, and Symbiosis etc. Ever since the book came out, I have been inundated with more such speaking opportunities even in certain Corporates who want me to engage with their employees on many aspects of running a business operation. Mercifully, I have been able to balance my first priority – running GoliVadapav – and speaking opportunities. Interestingly, I believe I have evolved into a motivational speaker post the book launch.

What field or genre would you classify your book(s) and what attracted you to write in that field or genre?
This book is for entrepreneurs who want to start a company; it is a story of my entrepreneurial journey. So as a genre, it is a storytelling of a business book, which can also act as a handbook for launching a business.

What do you do if inspiration strikes in an inconvenient place like (car, restaurant, bathroom/shower, etc..) and how do you capture that moment before it gets away from you?
Thank god for smartphones. I have a habit of keeping notes in my phone and you are right, the best of the idea comes to you in the most inconvenient place or situation.

How do you think you have evolved as a person/author because of your writing and do you believe your writing has helped others, how/why?
I would like to believe that ‘My Journey with Vadapav’ would inspire and give a motivational support to many entrepreneurs who are either running a business or working on a plan to launch one.

Do you believe there is value in a review? Do you believe they are under rated, over rated, or don’t matter at all?
Book reviews are an important part for any author worth his salt. A well-captured book review can help readers decide which book to pick or miss. It will be unfair to label them as under rated or over rated. The fact is that book reviews help rate an author’s work.

What is your biggest fear about having a book published?
That no one may want to read it. But then the readers and the community have been kind and words of appreciation have been flowing ever since the book came out.

What is the intended audience for you book?
Entrepreneurs, consumers, students – who ever loves a good courageous story.

Give us a fun fact about your book(s).
The fun fact is that this book is relatable to each and every budding entrepreneur – be it the cutting chaiwalah or your area’s famous Kachoriwalah – it is tale that will make you question the set norms of Indian food industry, break your myths and inspire you to see your worth and how to take seeminglysmallest of the business nationally and even globally.

If you had the chance to get one message out there to reach readers all over the world, what would that message be?
Doesn’t matter how busy your day is, always find time to read and do pick your copy of ‘My Journey with Vadapav.’

What makes a good story, why?
The story-telling technique and off course a solid plot. Because if a purpose to story-telling is missing then you will lose your reader, who is anyway short on time with so many other things demanding his attention.

Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
Yes, I have read a few reviews, which have been published or communicated to me. So far they have all been very positive. But one should always be prepared to take a not so pleasant review in their stride.

What are the most important elements of good writing? According to you, what tools are must-haves for writers?
A good editor and a publishing house that can put their trust in you are 2 most important things for an author to have a good quality product. My Journey with Vadapav wouldn’t have been possible without unconditional support of Sheryl Dixit, editor of the book. She dedicated herself to keep the story tight, made herself available full time for helping me do the changes, sometimes all over again and just being there as a patient listener and integrating my ideas and adapting to my narrating style.

Do you view writing as a career, labor of love, hobby, creative outlet, therapy, or something else?
My Journey with Vadapav is without a doubt a labor of love.

What are the advantages/disadvantages of self or traditional publishing?
Being backed by a media conglomerate like Network 18, there can only be advantages to publishing a book. The team at Network 18 extended their entire support in making this book a reality. Their support continues and it has resulted in selling more than expected number of copies.

What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
Apart from a beautiful cover design, the storyline of the making a street food a pan India product, ability to transition an unorganized sector format into an organized set up with investors, board of directors, auditors on board.

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
My personal favorite scene is when we had to start from the scratch all over and approach the financial markets but we were surrounded with biggest of financial crisis in the world. However, it was the most difficult phase of my real life, but while writing this book and reminiscing the time of overcoming this obstacle successfully is most certainly closest to my heart. It inspires me over and over again that I’m capable of rebuilding myself.

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
Two authors have inspired me a great deal. My all time favourite is Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist and Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull. They have inspired my thought process. Their books dare readers to have a dream and go all out to achieve it. Something similar happened in my case.

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
It’s more of an inspiration. Whether inside of a corporate boardroom or engaging with an audience as a speaker, I have always spoken from my heart. And that has been appreciated every time.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
Believe in your story. And the words will flow in your thoughts to express it in best possible manner. 

About the Book:

How did a popular street snack from Mumbai become a marketing phenomenon, gaining national popularity and international repute?
What transformed an on-the-run bite from a snack on a handcart into an award-winning brand?
What made Harvard Business School lean forward and acknowledge the marketing success of the humble vadapav?
‘My Journey with Vadapav’ by Venkatesh S, answers all these questions and more. The book tells the story of a daring and unusual entrepreneurial venture. Inspired by his love for vadapav, one man made it his mission to build, promote, transform and establish a humble street snack into a national brand.
The book encapsulates a journey in which you walk with the author through various pathways from the glimmer of a concept to its creation, development and foundation, while sharing his moments of apprehension, enthusiasm, despair, elation, occasional confusion and humour. In due course, admire his determination to succeed, no matter what.This bold and inspiring real-life narration, questions the set norms of the Indian food industry and takes its myriad challenges head-on. It is a tale of teamwork, a whole load of determination and entrepreneurship at its best, with a little bit of luck to complete the mix.
‘My Journey with Vadapav’ is exciting, compelling and a great read for enthusiasts who have an idea, a dream or a vision and aspire to make it not just a reality, but a success. It is an inspiration for others too.

Buy Link:

Amazon I Flipkart I Book Adda I Infibeam I Sapna Online

Thank you, Mr Iyer, for this amazing interview! I wish you success for all your future works. Keep writing!

1 comment:

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