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Updated: June 18, 2013 18:05 IST

Learning on the go

PRINCE FREDERICK
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IMPRESSED WITH INDIA Benoit de Monspey. Photo: K.V. Srinivasan
The Hindu
IMPRESSED WITH INDIA Benoit de Monspey. Photo: K.V. Srinivasan

India has thrown up many surprises for Frenchman Benoit de Monspey who's on a world tour to meet entrepreneurs

Benoit de Monspey's notions about India — largely gathered from books by non-Indian writers — have turned out to be entirely false. Before starting off on an 18-month round-the-world tour aimed at picking the brains of entrepreneurs, the 25-year-old Frenchman allotted only two months for India. Impressed with what he discovered, he has extended his sojourn by a month.

“Entrepreneurship is given great importance on campuses around India. The entrepreneur cell at an engineering college in Chennai has 350 students. I think this is amazing; it reflects the positive business environment in the country,” says Benoit, who couch-surfs and is, at present, staying with Joji, “an Indian entrepreneur whose head brims with brilliant ideas.”

It was such enthusiastic and bold businessmen the Frenchman hoped to meet, when he headed out on this unusual vacation a few months ago. As a financial auditor on the payroll of Deloitte in Luxembourg, Benoit rubbed shoulders with high-flying businessmen and this association kindled in him a desire for entrepreneurship. Quitting his fabulous job, he decided to go on a vacation that would be directed by the goals of discovering countries outside Europe and also meeting European entrepreneurs who have carved a niche for themselves in distant lands. “I narrowed down the hunt to European entrepreneurs, because I could relate to them a lot better,” says Benoit, adding that non-European entrepreneurs have also taught him valuable lessons.

Having met businessmen in Russia, Mongolia, China, Nepal and India, Benoit thinks he discovered two indispensable rules of entrepreneurship — having a remarkable idea and making it sustainable; and loving the business not just for money, power and freedom.

He cites the story of Kevin Muller, a Frenchman who runs a search engine optimisation company with 50 employees, in New Delhi. “He just wants to have a good time. He hosted a barbecue to which he invited all his trainees,” says Benoit. “His primary aim is to get to work smiling and return home with the smile intact.”

Another of Benoit's discoveries is that passion scores over qualifications. “Many of the businessmen I met do not have business or management qualifications. They noticed opportunities and turned them to their advantage. Or, they found great ideas and went all out to make them work.”

You can follow Benoit's travelogue and interviews with entrepreneurs at www.unmondeaentreprendre.eu.

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