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Chennai, 24/Jan/2005
Scripting their success

* ATHLETES CALL it the second wind. They get a new burst of energy from their inner reserves and sprint towards new records, and even new vistas. The second wind is perhaps what powers some people as well, as midway in their well established and secure careers, they set their sights on new horizons, decide to stick their necks out and turn entrepreneurs instead.

What makes their entrepreneurship fascinating is that they come from non-business families, and have no experience in managing business ventures. Though the success stories of first-generation entrepreneurs in Chennai can be intoxicating, it is better to take some precautionary advice too.

"An entrepreneur becomes a victim of his customers who pay their bills after six to nine months! This inevitably leads to cash crunches despite good production and a receptive market," T. Ramanathan, a financial analyst says. So a budding entrepreneur should be prepared for such eventualities, if he is to weather the storm. Here are some success stories of first generation entrepreneurs.

Swaminathan. K

This 29-year-old management graduate from IIM, Bangalore, had worked with NIIT and Star TV, but held education close to his heart. "I always wanted to do something for school children." So he started Aspire Learning Company Private Ltd., with friends, Madhumathi Narayanan and M.A. John. "It definitely was risky. I was getting into a venture which would be giving me just one fourth of the salary I was earning then, that is, if Aspire took off," says Swaminathan. Aspire now has 33 centres across Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesn, Karnataka and Kerala. Another centre will shortly come up in the Gulf. "I had the vision, the right mix of human resources and the experience, which gave me the confidence that Aspire would click. Business is not all about inheritance. I come from an ordinary middle-class family. It is about self-motivation," says Swaminathan.