Business Today

On the Road Less Travelled

Ronnie Screwvala's 'Dream With Your Eyes Open: An Entrepreneurial Journey' walks you through his entrepreneurial journey, and helps you think big.
Vikram Malhotra        Print Edition: June 21, 2015
On the Road Less Travelled

Dream With Your Eyes Open: An Entrepreneurial Journey
By Ronnie Screwvala
PAGES: 208
PRICE: Rs 500
Rupa Publications

The first thing that grabs your attention even before the book's title is the author's picture on the front cover. Not the usual pensive or smug mugshot but a top-angle photograph of a man at ease. Content and relaxed as he may seem, the pages that follow give you an insight into the relentless pursuit of entrepreneurial glory that Ronnie Screwvala set off his early days as a simple Grant Road boy. While the author walks you through this journey, he shares valuable insights on the milestones that formed a part of it.

The preface offers a promise to the reader: "This book hopes to demystify failure, inspire success, raise ambitions and help you think big." And Screwvala, or Ronnie as he is better known as, does full justice to this in the 13 chapters that follow.

The first couple of chapters take you through the early days of the entertainment mogul - from organising play-cum-concerts for residents of his building to selling 'balcony seats' of a vantage point to see fi lm stars attending premieres at the theatre opposite his residence... Back then, little did the world know that this boy with an enterprising spirit would one day be the pioneer of much of the Indian media and entertainment industry as we know it.

From pioneering cable TV into India to manufacturing toothbrushes; from being in front of the camera to TV channels; from gaming to a movie studio - throughout the book, the author consistently underpins the value of the building blocks of a successful business:

>> Being ready for the right opportunity and having the courage to "answer the door when opportunity knocks".

>> Building and maintaining a strong team and an open work culture.

>> Basing decisions as much on gut as on well-researched consumer insights.

>> Pursuit of "inflection points" that help build critical scale.

>> Recognising that failure is a part of the entrepreneurial journey and not the end

>> Planning for the long-haul and building a vision that stays the course; through the ups and downs

What makes the book an easy yet impactful read is its conversational tone and lucid writing, peppered with the right amount of fi rst person examples that make the reader a part of the narrative. This fl avour is best highlighted in the chapter titled The Outsider, where Ronnie gives readers the skinny on how he and his team at UTV thought out of the box, defi ed convention, stuck to their guts and created a movie studio business against all odds.

With bullet point summaries at the end of each chapter and a manual-like FAQs section at the back, this book has what it takes to be compulsory reading at all technical and business schools. Furthermore, to serve as a roadmap for entrepreneurs, aspiring and existing.

Through the book, Ronnie emerges as a 'lazer-sharp' (pun intended as an ode to the author's toothbrush brand and now also a part of the brand name of his latest venture) combination of mind and gut who empathises that "it can be done".

In his 50s and ready to start his second innings, the author's accomplishments can be best summed up by defi ning entrepreneurship as a genesis, journey and destination that all lie within.

(The reviewer is founder and CEO of Abundantia Entertainment, and former COO of Viacom 18 Motion Pictures)

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