Anuradha Goyal is an author, travel blogger, innovation consultant among varied other roles. But this interview focuses on her successful book – The Mouse Charmers. The book is a collection of first person narratives from a business perspective of 12 different companies and are divided under the sections: content, commerce and connectors.
The companies that are featured in the book are: Commerce: Flipkart, MakeMyTrip, BigBasket and CaratLane; Content: Zomato, Games2Win, ImagesBazaar and Chai with Lakshmi; Connectors: Shaadi.com, Rang De, CommonFloor and IndiBlogger.
The company plays the protagonist and the author plays the role of a supporting heroine or an antogonist testing the worth of the company through the company’s various services offered so that a reader gets an unbiased view of the company’s operations, their services, their plans, strategies etc.
As the campaign digital India is set to have major impact in various nooks and corners of our country, digitally, this book serves as a go to book to learn about entrepreneurship in the digital space.
How long did you take to complete the book? When did you start thinking of this book?
End to end it took about one year – from idea to book hitting the market. Core writing took about 6-8 months that involved primary research, secondary research and writing. I had co-authored the India Innovates series for CII and that is how the idea of the book on a domain of innovating companies was born.
You mentioned about southern part of India i.e., cities like Bangalore being the hub of startups ? You live in Goa now and have certainly seen a change since you wrote this book Would you like to add some start up venture or innovative entrepreneurs from Goa too?
Yes, as I mentioned in the book, I really tried to find the companies outside the metro cities and did not find many. Hopefully things have changed since then and I can see new companies coming from smaller places as well. Goa I think should be an Innovation leader in travel / tourism space – a space that its people understand inherently, space in which it has a huge branding internationally and a space that they can venture in given their small size. There are companies from Goa who have started making a mark and hopefully they will grow enough to give me fodder to write about them.
Any books of reference for writing this book? Any particular books you found interesting?
Since I was writing about first generation internet companies, there was no book available in this domain. However I did draw on from books by Google’s Eric Schmidt and other business books. There are no direct references though. I did refer to a lot of newspaper articles, press releases by the companies and the online material available on each of the companies I researched, even the ones that did not get mentioned in the book eventually.
Did you feel like or think of writing about the personal side of the entrepreneurs’ mentioned too? The book is about the company’s life story which is unique.
No. The very objective of the book was to bring out the business aspect of the stories so that future entrepreneurs can learn from the journeys and insights of these companies. There is enough material, including books available on the personal side of entrepreneurs. That material serves its purpose in inspiring people, where as my book starts serving the inspired by telling them how to proceed, how to prepare for uncertainties, how to do course corrections on the way, how to face challenges and how to innovate.
Life post the release of the book and before the book.
Nothing much has changed, or if it has – change has not touched my life in Goa. There is a certain credibility that gets added to you when your work is in public domain and a certain segment of society looks up to you when you are a published author, but beyond that nothing really changes. I have been writing my blogs for more than 10 years now and so I was used to having my work in public domain and am used to taking both the accolades and brickbats at the same for the same work. Book became a continuation in that process though I must admit that most reviewers had been very kind to my book.
It was great hear from many b-school professors who loved the book and added it to their recommended reading for courses on entrepreneurship.
Advice to anyone attempting to write a nonfiction book.
Do your research well. Verify everything that you write. Write everyday till you finish the book. Pray for your work to be accepted well by the readers.
You also have a successful blog on travel - do you plan to come up with a book someday?
Travel is a space dominated by travel blogs. Most print media is shifting to online on travel front, so from market perspective there is no demand for travel books unless you do an expedition and write about it. Having said that, I do have some ideas that I would like to explore as and when opportunity presents itself.
What was your favourite part in making of the book?
Interacting with the entrepreneurs was the most rewarding part of writing this book. Every time I spoke to one of them, their enthusiasm and positive energy rubbed on to me and left me even more inspired to tell their stories to larger audience. I learnt so much from each of those interactions and would always cherish those conversations.
If you had to choose to add one more mouse charmer apart from the ones mentioned what would it be and why? If possible, one in each category of commerce, content and connectors.
I wanted to some more Mouse Charmers from the health and education sector – they could have been in any category. I could not find anyone who had reached a level where they had made and impact – which was a key selection criteria for me. I hope some people are listening and working in these domains. I wanted BookMyShow and BigBus in commerce, I wanted YourStory in content and I wanted some student communities in connectors – that would added a dimension each to the category. May be there would be another space and time to write about them.