New Delhi: Jason Kothari, who has the distinction of transforming several distressed Indian Internet firms, shares the turnaround story of his journey from a rebel, train-wreck kid to one of the top ten paid young executives in the country.
As a college student at Wharton, Kothari scraped together money from family and friends to save his childhood favourite comic book company, Valiant Entertainment, from bankruptcy and bring it back to life. A few years later, he transformed Valiant into the third-largest superhero entertainment company in the world after Marvel and DC Comics and sold it for USD 100 million.
Jason then became a professional turnaround leader and went on to transform distressed Indian Internet firms Housing.com, FreeCharge and Snapdeal, and advise giants like technology investor Softbank and real estate developer Emaar.
In his book "Irrationally Passionate: My Turnaround from Rebel to Entrepreneur", Kothari share's his turnaround story and the many learnings from it with students and young entrepreneurs to help them in their journey.
Published by Harper Business, the book tells how Kothari started as an assistant to Jackie Chan in Hong Kong, learned strategy from champion Muay Thai fighters in Thailand, tackled huge personal setbacks and became a CEO in 60 seconds, among many other stories.
As the CEO of Housing.com, Kothari is credited with leading the transformation of the distressed company and a merger with News Corp's PropTiger to create the USD 350 million industry leader.
Following this, he was the Chief Strategy & Investment Officer of Snapdeal, where he played a lead role in transforming the distressed company from a monthly loss of over USD 20 million to a profit, the first for an Indian e-commerce company.
He was also the CEO of FreeCharge, where he led the sale of the company to Axis Bank for USD 60 million.
He says his book, releasing on March 11, is something all entrepreneurs are - "the risk and return profile of entrepreneurship never justifies becoming an entrepreneur".
According to HarperCollins India publisher Krishan Chopra, "From a rebel teenager, to creating the third largest superhero entertainment company in the world, to his 'mission impossible' work in India's Internet space, the book tells you that you can create your own turnaround story at any stage in life." Kothari says his earliest brush with entrepreneurship was when he eight years old and he successfully negotiated with a vendor on the sun-baked streets of Agra on the way to the Taj Mahal with his parents.
The vendor was charging Rs 500 for a chessboard but had to finally agree to Kothari's bargained price of Rs 30.
"Since that day in Agra I've been fortunate enough to negotiate dozens of deals totalling billions of dollars. But that first negotiation still holds a special place in my heart. It was the first of many steps along an entrepreneurial journey that transformed the trajectory of my life," he says.
The key to success, according to him, is mastering the art of the turnaround.
"Not just in business but in life as well. With all due respect to my professors at Wharton, learning how to orchestrate a comeback can't be learned solely in a classroom studying business theory. And triggering a turnaround in one's personal life is even harder. But it can be done with the power of passion," he says.