Feb 08, 2017

The Outliers 5: Sampad Swain breaks the silence on how founders can't stay really real

BYPankaj Mishra

Entrepreneurship is usually made out to be a heroic, special, and sometimes crazy pursuit. “Go big or go home,” and “screw it let’s do it” are some of the punchlines used on wallpapers inside startup offices.
But entrepreneurs are humans too. As I’ve discovered over years meeting hundreds of founders, they are mortal. They are equally influenced and shaped by the emotions of fear, anxiety, greed, anger and so on.
Sampad Swain, the founder of payment startup Instamojo, comes from a really humble background. His father was a construction worker who struggled to make ends meet. But he ensured that Sampad had access to the right education that would help him chase his dreams.
I discovered Sampad on Twitter, a few years ago. He came across as one of the most vocal critics of the startup frenzy, questioning flawed strategies of both founders and investors. It was really refreshing to hear his views at a time when everything about Indian entrepreneurship was made out to be a moon mission.
In this episode of Outliers, I sit down with Sampad to discuss the conflicts faced by founders in maintaining a balance between their own personalities, and the responsibilities of being an entrepreneur.
“What I’m doing, I’m not proud of doing. But I think I’m afraid of saying things which would impact negatively my organisation, shareholders, employees, everybody — even to the extent customers. I hope there are more founders who have much thicker skin than I have today,” says Swain.

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Pankaj Mishra is a writer of FactorDaily.