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Entrepreneurship

Pranav Arora, Established Entrepreneur & Venture Capitalist

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Pranav Arora (born Aug 2, 1995) is an BusinessmanEntrepreneur[2]Philanthropist[3]Investor, and Venture Capitalist.[4]

Arora currently serves as the Chairman and a Board of Director of multiple, multinational companies. He is currently serving as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for JMTD Holdings[2] and Vice President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of a non-profit organization called “The Just Funky Foundation“.

Pranav is involved in a vast number of different industries including consumer goods, investment management/wealth management, real-estate and franchise industry

Pranav attended Wooster Highschool, graduating in 2013, after graduation, he attended University of Akron for less than a semester before deciding to leave school to focus on “Highly Educated” which he started in high school, before selling his shares for undisclosed amount. The company sold containers, and officially licensed products for brands like The Walking  Dead, Bob Marley, TMNT, Sons of Anarchy, and MANY more which items were sold at Spencer’s Gifts, Hot Topic, and over 5,000 mom and pop stores across the country,

Pranav is “Head Of Division” at Just Funky LLC, Just Funky is a premiere manufacturer of licensed and private label merchandise for the mainstream retail market. Our executives have combined 44 years’ experience in manufacturing, licensing, retail and creative development in such areas as beverageware, impulse/novelty, decor, and apparel.

Just Funky’s main goal is to create the most innovative product with unmatched quality.

Just Funky sells its originally designed, licensed products to over 30,000 stores and chains, and licenses product uses from hundreds of video games, musicians, TV shows, movies, cartoons, anime and more.

Just Funky currently holds more than 200 A-list licenses in its portfolio including Rick and Morty, Walking Dead, Pokémon, Breaking Bad, Supernatural and many others. The company’s products and merchandise are distributed through major retailing partners around the world including Spencer’s, Hot Topic, FYE, Think Geek, and Gamestop as well as through more than 15,000 independent stores and online platforms.

Pranav also serves as a Member of the Board of Directors for JMTD Holdings aswell as a manager at the firm.

JMTD Holdings is a boutique private equity fund which is focused on creating superior long-term returns for shareholders through a unique structure of diversified public and non-public holdings.

JMTD Holdings have a powerful network of investors, transaction intermediaries and domain experts that give it significant advantages in sourcing and closing deals. JMTD Holdings unites an entrepreneurial vision with the experience to turn opportunities into realities.

JMTD Holdings has interest in multiple company’s including consumer goods, manufacturing, wealth management, and has invested in Intellectual Property portfolios constant of patents and trademarks which generate royalty’s.

The above are just a small insight on Pranav Arora, and some of the company’s he is involved in.

What do you do?

That is a hard question to answer, and I think most entrepreneurs will agree when I say that everyday I find myself wearing a new hat, or playing a different roll depending on what my vision and goals are for that day.

But, I think the majority of my time is spent managing, and explaining my vision to my teams to help them understand “the dream” and listening to their pitches on how we can achieve it.

What led you to your current business?

I think what lead me into starting JMTD Holdings was my love for entrepreneurship, and love for solving problems across different industry’s. I love the fact that I’m able to be apart of, and have financial ownership in multiple company’s  including consumer goods, manufacturing, wealth management, and has invested in Intellectual Property portfolios constant of patents and trademarks which generate royalty’s.

Could you walk us through your process of developing your business?

I wouldn’t really say there was a “process” necessary of developing my company’s, but I think the most important thing is to write down your plan on some paper, and create a “plan” in which your team members and investors can understand, and relate to. Create a “map” or “road plan” your team can use to help you achieve your goals

Did you encounter any particular difficulties in the beginning and how did you overcome it?

I think the biggest difficulty I had, and still have after all these years, is finding the right members for your team. You will only be successful if you have people working for you who have the same goals and aspirations as you. One bad hire or teammate can ruin a beautiful painting, its like one person throwing black paint over your beautiful mural, the artist spent hundreds of hours painting it in such great detail, and It only took one person , 5 seconds to ruin it all by splashing black paint. So make sure you only have the “positive” people in your team, and make sure you remove the “negative people”

What are some important lessons you’ve learnt about entrepreneurship/business?

I think an important lesson I have learned about entrepreneurship and business is the value of honesty and integrity. The most important thing is being fully transparent and honest with your clients/customers because it is the ONLY way to be successful in the long term, Being honest might not make you the biggest company today, but it sure will in a few months when people have been burned by your dishonest competitors. My customers would much rather pay me a little more than my competitors to know they aren’t being mislead and lied to. Many of the customers I had originally lost to my competitors months earlier, have come back knocking on my door begging me to help them get out of the hole the dishonest company’s had dug them into.

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  1. Any tips for achieving success?

 

I think the best 2 pieces of advise I can give for achieving success is, one, DON’T GIVE UP (no matter what), there will always be the “na-sayers” or people who will put your idea down, and tell you that you wont succeed or it isn’t possible; that’s what differentiates us from the “others”, us entrepreneurs are a different breed of people. The second best advise I can give is surround your self with the experts in the industry your working in. I personally have no knowledge about certain industry’s I am in, but because I have hired the right people, I was able to explain to them my “vision, and dream” and they were able to make it happen. A great example is, I recently became a part of the IT software start-up, and I have NO KNOWLAGE whatsoever in coding, or how software works, but I was able to explain my idea and vision to a few coders and engineers, and they were able to make my vision happen

 

 

Entrepreneurship

The 6 Habits of Amazing Leaders

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Great leaders all seem to have this commanding and magnetic force about them that follows them in and out of each room they enter. It’s that something that you can’t quite put your finger on. Maybe it’s charisma, ambition, drive or personality. In many ways, it’s probably a little bit of all those things, which is why great leaders always seem to be the total package.

But it’s also accurate to say that these effective leaders didn’t just wake up one day with all of these skills and expertise. On the contrary: any good leader knows that, in order to be effective, you need to make time for personal growth and develop good habits that hone these skills.

There are many lists out there with great suggestions, but we’ve put together the six most important habits of truly effective leaders.

1. Lead without title.

Some of the best leaders out there got themselves started by stepping up in the work place and self-leading. Having personal initiative is the key to personal professional growth and turning your methods and attitudes into a productive and, at times, commanding presence. This doesn’t mean arrogance. In fact, it really means the opposite.

As you continue to grow and develop as a leader — and actually gain titles — it’s important to remember where you came from. In this way, you can identify other individuals under your leadership that exhibit the same type of self-motivation you did. Be understanding and welcome failure as you lead. If you don’t get caught up on your title in the workplace, you’ll foster an environment that encourages inquiry and innovation.

2. Take responsibility.

And when failure does indeed happen, don’t create a scapegoat. You’re the leader of the group, and you are responsible for that group. Take this moment as an opportunity to teach and mentor those around you instead of assigning blame. You’ll keep the work environment productive and positive this way, and encourage more and better dialogue between your team members.

Remember: failure is ultimately necessary for truly great success, because it serves as one of the best teaching tools out there. Knowing you support them, no matter what, will allow your team to really get creative.

3. Think outside the box.

Leaders are innovators — there’s no question about it. Really effective leaders tend to look at things in very different ways than most people, and they encourage those they work with to do the same.

This also means reframing an idea once the first attempt has failed. If you can continually inspire flexibility, invention and adjustment — and treat them as positives — you will sit among truly world-class leaders like Steve Jobs of Apple, Sheryl Sandburg of Facebook or Reed Hastings of Netflix.

4. Have a vision and objective that’s shareable.

Nevertheless, this innovation and out-of-the-box thinking has to be easily communicated to your team. You not only need to be clear, organized and honest, but you also need to be a persuasive communicator that’s adept at listening to grievances, questions and feedback (without arrogance).

If your grand vision can’t be shared and adopted by the team you’ll be working with, the likelihood of success is virtually non-existent. There’s a reason why leaders have a team: people are stronger together.

5. Don’t be afraid to delegate.

Working together with others means that, as a leader, you recognize you can’t do everything by yourself. The best leaders learn to delegate and the most effective daily habits of business leaders focus on ways to involve the whole team. Accounting for the importance of effectively organizing and delegating tasks not only makes others feel included, but is essential for the daily functioning of your business.

6. Find time for relaxation and rejuvenation.

Finally: remember that all this talk of productivity is useless if you’re feeling burned out, or less than 100%. It’s extremely important for strong leaders to make sure they maintain a work/life equilibrium. Don’t shy away from physical activity or time off. These two things are extremely important for maintaining your sanity and health.

Practice daily meditation exercises, and make sure you take time to disconnect. This also sets a great example for your entire team and has a ripple effect. If they understand that you place importance on self-care, then they’re likely to practice the same methods — which will make everyone more productive in the end.

If you’re toying with the idea of a leadership position, take the plunge! Be a self-starter and inspire others. Leadership can be difficult, it’s true, but the results of carrying a team successfully through a project and inspiring them to step into new roles themselves is extremely rewarding. It will also give you the opportunity to push your limits and grow personally and professionally.

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About The Author:

This article was written by Kayla Matthews, an editor of Productivity Theory.Kayla is a freelance writer, blogger and topic researcher and, because I want to churn out tons of articles and blog posts every week, I have to manage my time as efficiently as possible. I use lots of Google Sheets, Google Calendar reminders, tons of apps and lots and lots of personally cultivated habits to stay on top of everything.

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Callum Connects

Andrew Schorr, Founder of Grata

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Taking a different route throughout his life, Andrew Schorr ended up in China and started several businesses.

What’s your story?
I moved to China after I graduated from college in 2004. English teaching was the easiest way to get there, so I looked on a map and picked a small town in Hubei, because it looked to be more or less in the middle of China. I was the only foreigner there.

Back then, everything was about the upcoming Olympics in Beijing, so I moved to the capital after my year of teaching. Pretty soon after arriving, I met the co-founder for all three of my companies. We decided to start a company together the first day we met. He has now moved back to the US and builds flight software at SpaceX.

Our first company, an online city guide, was re-purposed into our second company, GuestOps, a web concierge platform. We sold GuestOps to most of the major international hotel brands in China and still operate it. The genesis of our latest company, Grata came from looking at the intersection of hotels and WeChat in 2012, when WeChat was just starting to blow up. Grata expanded from hotels into a live-agent customer service console.

What excites you most about your industry?
Our thesis with Grata has always been that what is happening with WeChat in China is the future of messaging platforms globally, and as an international team building on WeChat, we would be well-placed to capitalize on that trend. It’s taken longer than we expected for the industry (and us, for that matter) to get there, but finally, we’re starting to see messaging as a platform to get better traction in other markets.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’ve always been a bit of a contrarian. I grew up in Texas, where all my friends studied Spanish in school. I studied German for no reason in particular. I took a similar path in college: Chinese and Japanese seemed like languages that not a lot of people who look like me studied. I was one of only two students in my third-year Chinese class.

Concur conference in San Francisco, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. (Photo by Paul Sakuma, Paul Sakuma Photography) www.paulsakuma.com

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Shanghai. I should live there, but Beijing has been home for so long. I take the night train down to Shanghai every two-three weeks to meet with clients. Domestic flights are way too unreliable here.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Don’t plan too far ahead; otherwise, you plan yourself out of good opportunities.

Who inspires you?
Has anyone said “Elon Musk” yet? Barack Obama would be another.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The gravitational waves recently detected from neutron stars colliding, were so subtle as to only affect the distance from earth to our closest star, Alpha Centauri (4.24 light years away) by the width of a human hair. Perhaps in another life or in the future, I’ll be an astronomer, but a telescope doesn’t do me much good in Beijing.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
When I give advice to students looking to get into entrepreneurship, I advise them to work for a post-Series A startup first and learn from a company that’s already doing things well. I learnt everything on my own, which is slower and you pay for your own education. If you work for a startup that’s small in the beginning, you risk learning bad habits.

How do you unwind?
I Hash! The Hash is a drinking club with a running problem. The Hash attracts good people from all walks of life and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a great way to meet fun-loving people all over the world. It’s also how I met my co-founder, our first lawyer, and my girlfriend.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Pulau Perhentian, Malaysia. A fantastic beach and where I first learned to scuba dive.

Everyone in business should read this book:
For business in China, Tim Clissold’s, Mr. China.

Shameless plug for your business:
Grata does WeChat contact centers for many top-tier brands in luxury retail, travel, financial services and hospitality. We started developing on WeChat before they even had an open platform. Grata provides the most value for large enterprises with complex routing and content demands for their contact centers.

How can people connect with you?
Check out www.grata.co or email me: [email protected]

Twitter handle?
My personal handle is @andrew_schorr and we tweet about messaging from the company handle @grata_co.

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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