Dream With Your Eyes Open has three main things –
- TV , Media & Entertainment business.
- Ronnie Screwvala and his remarkable journey of 3 decades.
- Lessons on Entrepreneurship.
1. TV & Entertainment business :
I used to be a complete Television buff, I remember every day after coming from school and even before I would change into my home clothes, I would tune into a Hum Paanch or a Dekh Bhai Dekh or some Hindi serial that was airing on Zee TV. I had no idea what Balaji Telefilms or Ronnie Screwvala or UTV were all about. Back then, these would just be names that would dramatically appear on the screen in the beginning or at the end of the serials.
But we now know we were witnessing a revolution which literally spoilt us for choices and particularly with respect to entertainment options on TV. And things were only getting better with time for every body in the family who first bought a colour TV and then that cable connection which served daily entertainment pretty much at finger tips. I even remember taking part in a school debate that said ‘Cable TV did more harm than good to the young mind’ – For or Against. The first year I contested against the motion and the next year against the motion. Yes it took less than a year for many parents to realise that they just cannot stop their children from watching TV !
And one of the reasons that I picked up this book, was just to understand this particular time in the history. Though I was a little disappointed on this aspect. I wanted to know more, the very charm of this era & TV per se is just too fascinating. And I was expecting this book to give a little more insights. The other minor let down for me personally was the book was not very chronologically written. I understand this was intentional but for a reader like me who was more interested in the journey than the lessons, this could have made the reading experience little better.
2. Ronnie Screwvala and his remarkable journey
The book does talk about Ronnie Screwvala’s journey as an entrepreneur and is written with utmost honesty. In his personal ‘first person’ account, with a primary objective of conveying the ‘lessons learnt’ as an entrepreneur.
Honestly, I personally had very little clue about this man. I had vaguely known that his company UTV was divested to Disney and they are coming up with many new TV channels like UTV Bindaas, Hungama , UTV Action, UTV Bloomberg and so on. And also they produce movies. But I had absolutely no idea about the depth and scale of businesses that Ronnie Screwvala created and successfully divested to move into the next business. A sign of a true ‘serial entrepreneur’ a term that is often frowned at but is beginning to see its relevance in today’s age of rapid change.
Those were some pleasant shocks & real eye openers for me.
For instance, hardly anybody would know that the first company Ronnie Screwvala actually started was a brush making company. It was set up by importing an old machine from London which was about to get scrapped and all of this when he accompanied his father on a factory visit !
And remember those Roti Makers from Tele brands?
This is the man who has really been there, done there and has seen literally everything in the media business of today.
The way he traversed through so many decades in the media business is fascinating. Pioneering cable TV in India to creating a production company that actually brought in the concept of ‘daily soaps’ with a serial called ‘Shanti’ are some of the stories that just hooked me in. Then the journey into Bollywood with producing clutter breaking movies like Rang De Basanti, Barfi, Life in a Metro. This man’s entrepreneurial journey was no less than a movie script itself. And just like it happens in the movies, this man did not stop dreaming. And thankfully mostly he dreamt with his eyes open.
Also to his credit, a good part of this journey was during 80’s & 90’s. The time when our country was just learning to stand up on its own feet. The act of ’doing business’ was not really glamoured with today’s evolved terms & definitions ’Entrepreneurship’.
He did not come from business family to begin with, neither he had any fancy degree beyond a B.Com. But boy he had the real guts of an entrepreneur!
3. Lessons on Entrepreneurship
Ronnie Screwvala’s passion to disrupt, innovate, take calculated risks, re-calibrate after a set back and challenging the set rules of doing business are really the backbone of any entrepreneurial journey. And more often than not, these lessons are learned the hard way.
I also did not expect too many lessons on Entrepreneurship. Well, I do sometime wish, that there was some kind of a strong medicine/antibiotic that could either fully cure or bring back some real symptoms for an ’Entrepreneur. I mean really, how do you learn to become an Entrepreneur? You are either one or not. Simple. And if the spirit of entrepreneurship could be simply infused by inspiration we should have had double the number of entrepreneurs we have today in India today.
But what I truly realised was, we as a society are so obsessed by ‘success stories’, that no body really wants to learn anything from anybody’s failures. Nobody really cares about you unless you don’t produce a million dollar company. I strongly feel that mindset must change. Not for anything else but for the benefit of millions of entrepreneurs themselves, who wouldn’t be able to create the next Google or the next Facebook or anything even close to it. So it is time that we start looking at these interesting journeys. Not just learn from their success but also dig deep into their setbacks. And this one promises to be one such hell of a journey !
About the Author :
From modest beginnings in Mumbai’s Grant Road, surrounded by the energy and unbridled potential of a country always on the verge of greatness, Ronnie Screwvala is a first-generation entrepreneur.
His early days, in front of the camera and on stage, inspired him to pioneer cable TV in India, and build one of the largest toothbrush manufacturing operations before starting UTV, a media and entertainment conglomerate spanning television, digital content, mobile, broadcasting, games and motion pictures, which he divested to The Walt Disney Company in 2012.
Newsweek termed him the Jack Warner of India, Esquire rated him as one of the 75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century and Fortune as Asia’s 25 Most Powerful.
On to his second innings, Ronnie is driven by his interest in championing entrepreneurship in India, and is focused on building his next set of ground-up businesses in high growth and impact sectors. His more recent commitment to being a first mover in sports has made him lend his support to kabaddi and football.
He is passionate about social welfare and, with his wife Zarina and through their Swades Foundation, has given single-minded focus to empowering one million lives in rural India every 5-6 years through a unique 360-degree model.
He lives in Mumbai with Zarina and daughter Trishya.
Author: Ronnie Screwvala
Release: February 2016
Genre: Non Fiction/Business
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