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January 28, 2015

Keeping It Real

Text by Huzan Tata

Award-winning talk show host, TV producer, and now writer, Shereen Bhan speaks about exploring the success tales of young entrepreneurs in her debut book, Young Turks

  • Shereen Bhan, Award-winning talk show host, TV producer, and now writer, Young Turks
  • Shereen Bhan, Award-winning talk show host, TV producer, and now writer, Young Turks

For those who follow the twists and turns of the world of business, Shereen Bhan, managing editor, CNBC TV18, is a familiar face on her top-rated show, Young Turks. Thirteen years after the show’s inception, Bhan and her colleague Syna Dehnugara have written a book featuring the rise of 13 entrepreneurs. She tells Verve about her book, the people featured in it and how she overcame her fears to become an author.

Was translating your TV show into a book easy?
Over the last few years several publishers asked me to do a book but I could never get myself to agree because I thought I didn’t have anything path-breaking to say. I felt uncertain because I am just a journalist, what do I know about running a business? When Random House approached me, I felt the same fear — but that sensation took me back to the day I walked into CNBC TV18 as a rookie producer. I worked 15 hours every day to find my feet and my voice. This book is our attempt at understanding the choices made by young, brave men. They are living proof that we are not prisoners of our circumstances.

How did you shortlist the final names?
The idea was to tell the stories of young, first-generation entrepreneurs who are at the helm of innovative businesses that have reached a reasonable scale both in turnover as well as reach, businesses that had created a niche and that had disrupted the sector they operated in or created a new category that didn’t exist in the Indian marketplace. When we looked closely at the most compelling stories that met the above criteria, we found that a majority of them belonged to the tech space. The list of 13 is in keeping with the show’s 13-year milestone!

Whose story do you think readers will most connect with?
Every story in the book will resonate with readers.  Our attempt was not to glamourise the life of an entrepreneur but to keep it real.  All of them have been brutally honest about their struggles, mistakes made, starting over, and overcoming fears and vulnerabilities. JustDial’s VSS Mani affirms the premise of the book — passion, perseverance and a solid plan can get you anything, anytime, anywhere.

BOOK REVIEW
“From Post-its to the iPhone, entrepreneurs change the way we live through this process of creative destruction,” says the introduction to Young Turks. From then on, you’re hooked to read on and know what went into the making of popular websites, many of which we use almost daily. Each chapter starts with a small prologue about the companies, followed by interviews with the founders. Their stories are highly inspirational — whether it be the growth of FlipKart from an online bookstore to becoming India’s first e-commerce store to cross $1 billion in sales, or the journey of Bharat Matrimony that started off as a website for Tamil matchmaking and today has over 15 regional websites under its umbrella. All the entrepreneurs reveal their eureka moments, the mistakes they made, and some even have business tips for readers. If nothing else, the book will definitely encourage those looking to branch out on their own to achieve their dreams.

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