Entrepreneur Journeys – A conversation with Sramana Mitra

I have been following Sramana Mitra‘s writings for a long time now. She has a new book called “Entrepreneur Journeys” that was published earlier this month. It is a collection of in-depth interviews with movers and shakers in the technology world.

Quick bio of Sramana Mitra

Sramana Mitra has been an entrepreneur and a strategy consultant in Silicon Valley since 1994.  Her fields of experience span from hard core technology disciplines like semiconductors to sophisticated consumer marketing industries including fashion and education. Her current focus, however, is primarily in the realms of Web 3.0 and Enterprise 3.0, and related infrastructure.  She has a particular interest in Media and Retail companies and their transition to a Web-centric world.

I had a chance to discuss her new both with Sramana and here are the excerpts:

RS: What is “Entrepreneur Journeys” about? What motivated you to create a series?

SM: I am deeply interested in mentoring entrepreneurs and teaching them how to build companies.

As a self-taught entrepreneur myself, much of my learning came from my own mentors – coffees, conversations, dinners – through which they told me their stories, shared their insights.

Entrepreneur Journeys is my attempt to capture that knowledgebase and institutionalize it, so entrepreneurs all over the world can vicariously experience those conversations, those dinners, lunches, coffees which I have been fortunate to have access to, and through which I built myself up.

Series? There are so many stories, and so much tribal knowledge. I want to capture a great deal of it, and leave it as a resource for those coming after. And for those in all the emerging markets.

RS: The book provides a snapshot of the entrepreneurs at a point in time? What is your plan to keep it “alive”?

SM: I don’t think the “time” is so critical as the “lessons”. I think the lessons are timeless.

RS: If there was a common theme across all the interviews in Volume 1, what is it?

: Inspiration. In later volumes, I will be zeroing in on more specific themes like Bootstrapping, Positioning, Innovation, etc. This one is meant to be pure inspiration, which is why it ends with Harish Hande’s story.

: What were some things that surprised you from the responses?

: Assuming you are asking about the responses from the entrepreneurs whose stories I have told, I think the surprise element is in how deep and detailed they were all willing to get with their stories. Over time, as I started getting more clarity myself on what I want to do with this body of work, I got better at explaining to the entrepreneurs what I want to focus on. That helped create more engaging, meaningful conversations – well beyond the bragging that comes in traditional PR. And now that this volume is out, it is very easy to explain to entrepreneurs exactly what I am trying to accomplish with the series.

RS: I know that people have to buy the book to get everything but would you please give a sneak preview of some of the lessons from these interviews?

SM: As I said in the book, what you will learn from the book is going to be personal and subjective. What I want people to learn is that entrepreneurship – successful entrepreneurship – is a very achievable goal. Not something to be scared of. Not something to put off until next year, and then next year, and then next life. Get going with it, is my advice.

: Sramana, the book has great content. Why chose the self-publishing option when you could have easily got a big-name publisher to get this book out?

SM: I have only done the Amazon deal so far. I have not sold the non-Amazon rights, and am in discussions to sell that with other publishers. I wanted a fast-track way to get this book series out ASAP. Traditional publishers take very long to get their acts together, and frankly, I don’t operate with those timelines. Besides, I got a great royalty structure plus lots of other goodies from my “special” deal with Amazon. It gave me an opportunity to be an entrepreneur and disrupt an industry. You can imagine how attractive that is for someone with my profile.