R.T. Manu Ramesh’s debut novel offers a humorous take into the world of failing startups

We have seen numerous books, blogs and websites that extol the values of a start-up that has been successful, has managed to capture the attention of the world and reap dividends for the founders. However, the world seldom reads or hears of start-ups that do not succeed, and it is a peek into the world of failing start-ups that entrepreneur-turned-author R.T. Manu Ramesh seeks to throw light on in his debut novel, The Sales Room.

The idea for this novel came when Manu was working for a start-up firm. “I learnt about the issues that start-up companies face, especially in India. Funding is always a major problem, venture capitalists are wary of releasing funds. Finding good people to manage the show is also difficult. You need to inculcate the fire-in-the-belly sensation about your business idea to other people in the team too. Though it does take into account some of my life experiences, this book is a work of fiction.”

The key to running a good start-up, Manu argues is the ability to trust and find people with integrity. “In a big company, systems are present that prevent any major breach of trust. A start-up cannot afford lapses of integrity. If a start-up has to fail, it must be due to the non-viability of the business plan, not because of the lack of integrity of its founders.”

He adds: “I have made an effort to make the tone of the book as humorous as possible. It is modelled on books such as Catch 22, which brought dark humour into something as serious as the Second World War. It is for people working in the corporate sector. For people outside the corporate culture, it is a light read that gives a sneak peek into the topsy-turvy world of start-ups.”

Manu contends: “I feel that humour has a greater impact in getting the message across. I wanted it to be a humorous read, with the serious message. I wrote the book from the perspective of a salesman, since sales is the most important part of any start-up firm. If the sales team is not up the mark, it is tough for a start-up to have an impact.”

The book was completed in a stretch over four months. “I quit my job and embarked on full time writing. I enjoyed the experience. I read a lot, though not as much as I would want to. As a child, I liked reading Enid Blyton and am Catch 22a fan of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight Children.”

Indian writing in English is growing at an exponential pace and Manu is thrilled about it. “There are many stories waiting to be told. India is a land of many idiosyncrasies which make for many stories and plots. Time and again, Indians have produced excellent works in English.”

The Sales Room has been published by Frog Books and is priced at Rs. 145.