‘Irrationally Passionate’ is a young, successful entrepreneur’s story of making it big, treading an unconventional path. This entrepreneur is Jason Kothari, with an impressive resume to make you delve right into the book. One look at the cover and you realize this isn’t going to be a philosophical sermon on entrepreneurship or how to become a successful entrepreneur roadmap. And, there is that hint of glitz with Karan Johar’s recommendation on the cover.
The book is a biographical account of the author’s journey from a rebellious youngster to a headstrong entrepreneur.
In ‘Irrationally Passionate’, Jason Kothari beads together three in-depth case studies – Valiant Entertainment, Housing.com, and Snapdeal as he headed the helm of their affairs. Three ventures in three distinctly diverse market landscapes and at different intervention points for an entrepreneur. Conservatively, we have understood entrepreneurship as something one begins from scratch and builds into an enterprise. But Jason Kothari takes entrepreneurial skill at a wider level.
The book begins with an insight into Jason’s troubled childhood growing up in Hong Kong, Pennsylvania, and Paris. During these formative years, he faced racism, bullying and endured identity crises, all of which contributed to making him the entrepreneur he is today.
Another aspect that he divulges is the early encounter with alcohol and smoking. Such honest accounts help break the myth that only ‘well-heeled and flawless’ people break into the top echelons of entrepreneurship.
There are life lessons from early on. Jason’s inclination towards comic books actually taught him the basics of business entrepreneurship. He targeted sales of comic books within his friends’ circle as a young boy. The story of Valiant, the influence of the comic book characters in developing his grit and strength is quite fascinating.
Today, Valiant to me is synonymous with ‘Bloodshot’. Yes, for someone who wasn’t gushing over comics, Marvel and DC reached me through movies. And, then ‘Irrationally Passionate’ happened. I was awestruck by Jason Kothari’s passion to save his childhood favourite comic book brand ‘Valiant’ from bankruptcy. The ‘irrational’ and the ‘passion’ combine as this Wharton graduate decided to take a plunge, put his family money at stake and compete with the market forces in bringing this brand back to its days of glory. The result, we see Vin Diesel in the trailers of ‘Bloodshot’. But, there was a long convoluted path trudged with lawsuits and financial losses.
The next stop, we spear into Housing.com through the downward spiral of losses and lack of growth in the Indian real estate market. The narration gives equal thrust to the roles played by other key partners associated with the project.
Snapdeal is another emotional venture for Kothari who connects with his college friend Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal for rowing the venture through the tough times. Here, Kothari explores the Indian online marketing turf. It is amazing to read the meticulous research and analysis and the process of sifting human resource and the resultant impact.
Who wouldn’t want to read about Jeff Bezos or Jack Ma but then Jason Kothari’s story is an endearing tale of an Indian Entrepreneur. He keenly presents the ugly truths of dealing with employee lay-offs and of the times stuck in trademark war after a company acquisition. There are highlighters on the nasty things that come as byproducts of being an entrepreneur, even on the personal front. The point that Jason Kothari takes you to boardroom meetings with some of the most eminent CEOs of the industry in complete transparency is remarkable.
I was glad that ‘Irrationally Passionate’ didn’t paint a rosy picture blindly urging the reader to close the book and be the next entrepreneur. Rather, we get to know about the stumbling blocks, for example, companies offering equity, are the stock options worth the hype created by the employer for the new recruit? Or, should an HR decision be backed by 100% of the employees? Of course, the problems are led on with a sneak peek into the author’s proven mantras. The back door stories of turn arounds in business deals, mergers, and some major restructuring all become a part of this book.
Major takeaway from the book has to be entering the mind of an entrepreneur who has steered many a sinking ship clear of the rough waters. In a tale strewn together with personal life stories, its setbacks to childhood entrepreneurial achievements to an international scale business negotiation, ‘Irrationally Passionate’ becomes a comprehensive handbook on developing entrepreneurial acumen. And, Jason Kothari treats you with his ‘seven golden pillars for an ideal start-up’ at the end of the book.
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About the Author
Jason Kothari is a passionate entrepreneur and business turnaround leader. While still in college, he acquired the bankrupt US-based Valiant Entertainment and led its transformation as the CEO to the third-largest superhero entertainment company after Marvel and DC and a sale for $100 million, a record industry return.
Subsequently, Jason was the CEO of Housing.com, where he led the transformation of the distressed company and a merger with News Corp’s PropTiger to create the $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 $20 million to a profit, the first for an Indian e-commerce company. Jason was also the CEO of FreeCharge, where he led the sale of the company to Axis Bank for $60 million.
In addition, he has been a senior advisor to Softbank; Noon.com, a Middle Eastern e-commerce company that has raised $1 billion; and is a Board Director of Emaar India, which has over $2 billion in real estate assets. He is also an Executive Producer of Bloodshot (Sony Pictures) starring Vin Diesel. Jason holds a B.S. from The Wharton School and lives in Mumbai.
I am glad to have received this book from Blogadda under the Book Review Program