While driving today, I had an interesting conversation with Christina about entrepreneurship… or, more precisely, the reasons why we opted to work in well-established companies when we returned to Mauritius in 1998 instead of founding our own start-up. We thought a little bit and came with the following theory:
When we were at school in Mauritius and, for the matter, in France, we didn’t have the chance to talk to entrepreneurs (we did not have family members or friends who were entrepreneurs.) The only professionals we regularly met were our teachers. Teachers, in general, have a very predictable life: same lectures, same colleagues, same kind of students, same office and (more or less) same salary year in year out. Teachers, in general, do not take too many risks as they do not want to move out of their comfort zones too much. In general, they are the exact opposites of entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, assume significant accountability for the inherent risks and the outcome of setting up their own start-ups. The most successful ones change the world with their innovative products and services.
When we returned in 1998, Christina and I thought a lot about creating our own start-up but decided against it. In hindsight, we should have gone for it. Unfortunately, we still had a very distorted image of entrepreneurs at that time. Compared to our role models, teachers, we felt entrepreneurs took too many risks, had too many things to take care of and, well, were too different… We didn’t realize they took calculated risks, took care of many things they were passionate of and were different because their mind was the mind of an entrepreneur.
In 2008, I felt the need to (finally) become an entrepreneur. Two things prompted this, (1) the world of academia was losing its appeal to me and (2) some brilliant people I knew personally were quitting their jobs in big companies to join start-ups. Paul Graham, with his fantastic essays, also influenced me a lot.
So, here I am, ten years after having returned to Mauritius, making a salutary change in my life: I am in the process of launching a company. Please stay tuned for more information.
[PS: Before you ask, immigration is still a possibility.]