Vikas Gupta | Crain's San Francisco

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Vikas Gupta

Background:  

Wonder Workshop provides a platform for kids to learn computer science at an early age, using a robot companion and a visual, coding game.

The Mistake:

I realized after leaving an engineering job at Amazon and working on a startup (Jambool, which was subsequently acquired by Google) that every aspect of my job required me to rely on someone outside the company—whether it was hiring people, raising money or building partnerships with companies.  

If I had those networks, it would be much easier to reach out to those people. Let’s say I’m raising money and there are not a lot of people in my network to get advice. I was learning as I was doing it. If I had a better network who had done this before, I could have learned much better.

In the same way, I could be more helpful to those people and they could reach out to me. I felt like that was a very important aspect. Investing in that is important for everyone and I hadn't done that enough.  

It was one of the first times I realized the value of the network.   

You have to take time ... to invest in those relationships.

The Lesson:

I should have worked harder to maintain connections and built a better network when I was at Amazon. But I didn't invest in it. I was too focused on day-to-day work, instead of building that connection to people. 

With online social tools, it’s so much easier to stay connected to people like past clients, someone I was a client of, partners, investors, colleagues and everyone in some form or other. 

You have to take time out of your work or whatever busy life you have to invest in those relationships. The way I look at it, I make sure I am available and I make time to help people if they reach out to me, not ever expecting something in return.  

Follow Vikas Gupta on Twitter at @vikasgupta.

Pictured: Vikas Gupta. | Photo courtesy of Wonder Workshop