BT Mindrush 2024: OfBusiness’ Asish Mohapatra shares life lessons after being turned down ’73 times’

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Perseverance and orginality helps businesses sail through rejections, OfBusiness’ Asish Mohapatra said at BT MindRush 2024. The IIT Kharagpur graduate faced rejection a staggering 73 times before finally getting his B2B venture off the ground, surging past a valuation of $5 billion.

It wasn’t easy, Mohapatra told said at the first panel discussion at BT Mindrush. “The reason we faced rejections after a sail through in the initial round was we were firstly, an India-specific platform, never had a global solution. We were also not a tech-first business and lastly, we had a huge focus on turning profitable very, very soon, which didn’t help us with investors expecting scale.”

OfBusiness operates as a marketplace for small and medium enterprises, offers products such as steel, non-ferrous metals, chemicals, agricultural products, polymers, energy commodities, textiles, construction materials and leather. “We are a B2B platform that supplies large bulky raw materials to end users, specially SMEs, bypassing all traders in between,” said Mohapatra. 

Mohapatra’s three tips to entrepreneurs is: Never change your self. Never give up, persistence holds the key. Third, he says, one must build a business or a team that focuses on problem that you encounter on ground and not a replica of something that has been attempted before.

BT MindRush was started in 2013. Since then, the event has established itself as one of the most sought-after events in the Indian corporate calendar. The winners were based on BT-PwC India’s Best CEOs ranking. The study used a robust methodology to assess the top 500 most valuable companies in the country by market capitalisation for growth in revenues, profits, EBITDA and total shareholder returns. After applying further stringent filters, the names of top 3 CEOs in each group – overall and sector-wise – were placed before the jury, who chose the final winners.   

This year’s jury led by Uday Kotak, Founder & Chairman, Kotak Mahindra Bank, comprised Rajat Dhawan, Senior Managing Partner, McKinsey & Co in India, Ramnath Krishnan, MD, ICRA, R.M. Vishakha, MD & CEO, IndiaFirst Life Insurance and Amit Tandon, Founder & MD, Institutional Investor Advisory Services. 

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