Aaron Sarma shares eight tips for budding entrepreneurs at Cradle Buzz 2018: Page 2 of 2


Keep your eyes on the long-term


Aaron Sarma shares eight tips for budding entrepreneurs at Cradle Buzz 2018: Page 2 of 2


Fourthly, Sarma shares a lesson he learnt from one of his investors, “Always play the long game.” Many founders get caught up in the short-term, he believes, due to cash flow issues. “But great products are built with the long-term in mind. Investors too want to invest for the long-term.”

To support his point, Sarma says, from the beginning, Touristly’s main goal was to go regional. “We took a while to launch because we wanted to have enough destinations in Asia to be taken seriously, instead of only offering deals in Kuala Lumpur.”

Get rid of the ‘magic bullet’ mindset

Moving on to his fifth point, Sarma tells entrepreneurs, “Stop looking for magic bullets.” He explains, “Many businesses get caught up thinking that by just achieving one thing such as funding or customers, everything will then be awesome.”

In reality, it does not happen. He says, “Get your fundamentals right and track your metrics. Know what’s important for your business to perform well. At the end of the day, this is what makes you attractive to investors and potential hires.”

Constant learning and growth

The library in Vidi’s office was set up by accident when Sarma just wanted to fill up an empty shelf in his office. “I brought books from home one day and after a while, others in the team started doing the same.”

Additionally, Vidi also invests in training and seminars for the team to promote growth. “At the end of the day, your company reaps benefits from having a stronger team.”

Find a great mentor

In his seventh point, Sarma highlights the importance of finding a mentor. “You won’t really appreciate the value of a mentor until you have a mentor.”

Naming the co-founder of Proficeo, Dr. Sivapalan Vivekarajah, as his mentor, Sarma says “I was fortunate to have been asked by him to join the Coach and Grow Programme.”

He recalls how he disliked his first coaching session, “Someone who I was unfamiliar with was looking at my pitchdeck and poking holes in it. But today, my coaches have become some of my best friends in the business.”

Another time when the mentorship he received proved beneficial was when AirAsia’s acquisition of Touristly came about. “AirAsia’s original idea was to acquire us through the Travel 360 business. But we wanted to be associated with the AirAsia brand.”

Seeing Sarma’s dissatisfaction, Dr. Sivapalan advised him to talk to Fernandes which worked out favourably in the end.  “There’s something magical about working with a mentor – these people don’t necessarily have a stake in your business, they just want you to succeed.”

“With that comes a very new perspective which don’t get anywhere else because they are truly looking at what is best for you,” Sarma says while recommending Proficeo’s Coach and Grow Programme.

Love what you do

Lastly, Sarma closes by telling entrepreneurs to love what they do. “This is different from doing what you love which many claim is the secret to success. I like playing the guitar but I can’t make money from it because it’s not something I’m good at,” he jokes.

He says, “When you start a business, you need to love doing it because when times get tough that’s the only thing that’s going to keep you engaged and pull through the difficult times.”


Related Stories:

Touristly is now Vidi

AirAsia takes 50% stake in Touristly for US$2.6mil

Cradle contributes substantially to country’s GDP and jobs


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