Apr 06, 2018

Outliers 53: Manav Garg on learning from his father’s entrepreneurial failures, building Eka

BYPankaj Mishra

Manav Garg is clearly an outlier in the Indian startup ecosystem. Coming from Moga, a town in Punjab, Garg conquered his inability to speak English and fear of failure to set a launchpad for himself. Also, he never went to an IIT.
After finishing his graduation from the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, Garg joined G Premjee Trading on its commodities desk starting with coffee in 1998. From around $50 million worth of trading, he became part of the team that scaled it to over half a billion dollars in three years.
Later, in 2001, Garg started building Eka. He’s among a bunch of rare few entrepreneurs who come from core business backgrounds to build a software company.
“A lot of time my wife and family ask me why I’m going to work all the time, working so hard. It’s not really about work, but it’s the mission for me,” he says.
“For me, it’s a mission. You’ll always have enough to survive. I want to change the entire agricultural space in India.”
Garg has also learned to use meetings over a cup of coffee as a negotiation and persuasion tool. From getting his first $1 million customer for Eka in 2001 to hiring his head of sales, Garg’s coffee meetings have delivered. “This Singapore customer called us after reading our responses to his RFP, said he will never ever work with us. I persuaded him to have a coffee with me the next day. I flew overnight to be there,” he recalls. Ditto with Rick Nelson who Manav hired as the head of sales in New York in March 2009.

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Pankaj Mishra is a writer of FactorDaily.