It took a few failed ventures before entrepreneur Vivek Panchakshari started GreeniGo, an eco-friendly wood card business. He spoke to Australia Plus about his entrepreneurial journey in Australia.
Vivek Panchakshari came to Australia as an international student in 2008 to pursue a Master's degree in IT at the University of Melbourne. But he says he has always wanted to start his own business in Australia.
“I believe Australia is a land of opportunity for anyone wants to start a business. People are open minded to new ideas and also appreciate [the] work of any start-up business."
Keen to start something on his own and create employment opportunities for the community, Vivek set up his start-up GreeniGo. Prior to that, he worked as an IT consultant for about six years in Melbourne.
GreeniGo prints eco-friendly cards such as business cards, greeting cards and wedding cards.
Vivek says he sees “huge potential for eco-wood products as there is growing awareness [about] eco-friendly and sustainable products”.
He bought an existing printing business in Melbourne to ensure all his products are printed locally. However, like many entrepreneurs, Vivek’s journey hasn’t been smooth sailing.
When Vivek was working in India, he tried to set up a call centre but realised he'd need huge capital investment.
When he moved to Australia, Vivek tried to import fresh flowers from East Africa into Australia. That venture also met with some issues because of cost and competition.
After establishing his wood printing business, Vivek faced other challenges and ended up running out of savings within the first year of launching his business.
“GreeniGo has niche products and the main challenge we had was to educate the customers as these were new products in the market. But we didn’t have a big budget for marketing,” he says.
Vivek also believes that Australian venture capitalists “are not as adventurous as the investors in the United States." But three years since starting his business, Vivek is now preparing to get investors on board to take the business to next level.
“From my experience I have learnt the first two to three years of a start-up will test your perseverance and how much you believe in yourself and that idea as no one else around you would believe in you and/or the idea."
As an entrepreneur, Vivek says he is often asked: what if this business doesn't work?
"I usually give a sincere shocked reaction — wide eyes, a long gasp — and say: 'If you had a business, you wouldn’t dare let it fail, would you?'"
Vivek draws his inspiration from many successful entrepreneurs including his own father who ran a print and copy business in India. He shares five tips for starting a business in Australia:
1. Find your passion and purpose
If you call yourself an entrepreneur, you should be prepared to fail, says Vivek. He says it might take couple of failed ventures before you realise your passion and purpose, but the key thing here is to be determined and not give up.
2. Meet people
Join local networking groups based on your interests or find out about co-working spaces in your city where they will hold regular networking sessions, says Vivek. Meet other entrepreneurs and validate your assumptions about your business idea.
3. Challenge yourself
Vivek advises that an entrepreneur should take more than just the numbers into account when starting your own business. Once you factor in the intangibles, you’ll soon realise that the personal development aspects of entrepreneurship are priceless.
4. Take calculated risks
You will never know the outcome of your efforts unless you actually do it according to Vivek. You won’t regret failure as you will gain some experience out of it but you should never regret not trying.
5. Believe in yourself and your ideas
Vivek says you have to breathe, eat and sleep about your idea because in the initial stages, no one else would believe in you or your ideas.