Millap Social Venture’s co-founders have broken the stereotype of young entrepreneurs, starting India’s largest micro-lending website at the age of 22.
How much does age matter when starting a business? Anoj Viswanathan, co-founder of Milaap Social Ventures, began working with his startup when he was 22—a year after he graduated from the National University of Singapore. Despite the stereotype of young entrepreneurs, however, Anoj and his two co-founders have managed to push Milaap to a point of success. It is now India’s largest micro-lending website and has received international recognition. We decided to sit down with Anoj and ask him the question that seems to be on everyone’s minds: How different is life as a young entrepreneur?
A Learning Curve
Anoj explains that he experienced a significant learning curve during his first few years with Milaap: “I’ll admit that there were several disadvantages to starting up without work experience. When I say work experience, I’m not just talking about in a company—I mean experience where you’ve grown with an organization. I’m sure if someone else who was older had started this, maybe someone with prior experience working in a company with significant growth, the organizational aspects of a startup or of an organization itself would have been solved much earlier. Everything was trial and error and everything took a lot longer than it should have.” One of these errors, he explains, was allowing his business model to grow in a vacuum. “When you start out, you tend to look at things purely from what you want to do from a product perspective,” he explains. “I would think, ‘This is what we want to build’, and ‘This is how we want to go about building things. You don’t have the maturity or the experience to think about building an organization. You are thinking about building it as a product or building it as an initiative. This took twice the time, thrice the money and twice the effort.”
A Strong Team
Despite his inexperience, Anoj believes that there are ways to balance the scale. “My two co-founders, Mayukh and Sourabh were both 5 years older than me and more experienced,” he explains. “Working with them really helped me out.” With the presence of a strong team, Milaap continues to change conventional ideas of giving in India. Youth, as Anoj proves, may not necessarily be wasted on the young.