PSA > MBA .. any day, every day

5 min readJan 14, 2024

I must confess this idea has been “ inspired “ from my friend @Anish, who is not on Linkedin, but he along with his brother Ketan Sanghvi have built a superlative D2C brand, Berge Sports & Fashion Private Limited

This “ Made in India “ brand, built brick by brick, can tick a lot boxes in any start up or vc play book on what to do right, but the most important ones its ticking, 1) saw a growing problem (Anish could not find the best fitting track pants for himself) and jumped right in it & 2) its built without raising a single penny & is now profitable and growing company.

Built the hard way, without fanfare or vain SM posts or metrics, Berge has a meteoric rise, long history & an even fantastic future ahead. The timeline of the brand, the company and the founders deserves a separate post on it & I am sure someone more qualified will do justice to it.

MBA everyone knows, but allow me to enlighten on you on PSA — Played Sports Actively.

While this post has some glimpses on how or how to not build a great business, my disclaimer at first, I am hardly qualified to write this, firstly iRobokid Mumbai is still growing and we have yet to see that kind of traction which gives one some kind authority to write what is wrong or right, however if I may add, from PSA point of view, I have had my share of success and I can put a side note that I speak for the sports part, while Anish has proved it in the startup and business part of it.

My association with Anish is because we played Basketball together for over 25 + years at various levels, Nationals, State, Inter Zone and University etc and of course Anish has been the more successful player, but I would like to think I have held my own at most times. Our playing time, we were often known as Davids to many a Goliaths.

Playing a sport which is not very popular anyway, in a city which lacks infrastructure and coming from a background / community which hardly encouraged sports. We both owe a lot to our parents , our wives and children who never stopped us from playing then when we started or even now till recent times. This often came at a lot of sacrifices, like building a company or business .

Our team had its share of success and winning ways and while we both never went on to play professional sports, our urge to play sports continued till few years ago.

Coming back to the post, while I have done my MBA and may have tried to adapt the learnings to the business, Anish has used the other degree (PSA) to a great deal more success, then I have ever & what someone else would have ever imagined.

My frequent discussions with him in sports and life & I have realized that there are way too many similarities of playing sports and running businesses and one actually make a playbook from them

Learning 1 — Everybody should play sports — Damn, you at least learn to lose !!

Sports is always accompanied by highs and lows, you win some, you lose some, you can practice for years and not win. Founders and players today are too often playing the short game, looking for instant results and often get demoralized on the slightest failure.

Learning 2 — No substitute for hard work ‘

Ad words and FB ads can only take you so far. You have to do the grind. Be it door to door or customer to customer. There is no shortcut. However good a team is, without putting the hours of practice, you may win games, but not championships’

Learning 3 — Team Chemistry beats Arithmetic

Team sports is a different ball game. You can take the best talent in the world, but if there is no chemistry, success will elude. Having played with far lesser talent, but a more bonded team, I can vouch for this passionately. The feeling of winning and losing with your “ team “ is unparalleled. The same applies to getting the right team for your business and riding with them.

Learning 4 — If something is working — Rinse Repeat

We had a coach, who kept saying, if this is working, lets try something else. And now we burst into peals of laughter at times as to why the hell would we fix what’s not broken.

Unnecessary diversification and complication is the problem, simplification is the solution.

Learning 5 — Dream Big

The same coach, when all we were thinking of was to beat the local club, made us believe that we should and could beat a NCAA team. Now it seems foolhardy, but at that time, we really believed and that brought a certain level of fearlessness and ambition.

There should be no limits to what we can achieve and we should dream the scale we can be at .

Learning 6 — Role clarity.

Our team was not the best or the most talented, but we had role players who knew exactly what they had to and that unselfishness or focus often took us over the hump when most other things being equal.

Clear roles are critical, it gives accountability and eliminates confusion.

Learning 7 — Communication

We used to talk after every game, every practice. Before every tournament, every match. Who would guard whom, what to expect and so on. As a result we were so aligned that the communication was often thru the roof , without saying a word .

I don’t think over communication is ever an issue.

Learning 8 — WIN !! Nothing succeeds like success.

Proof of the pudding is always in how much the pie was eaten There is nothing that beats success, and there is nothing that beats sales & profit. If you can sell it !! Everything else will follow.

Sports definitely has taught us much more then what we have realized and while there is no shade to any MBA or any degree. The intangible benefits of playing sports have been numbered endlessly, but it being a business playbook, was something new and something worth trying and co-relating.

Finally it would seem appropriate to end it with a quote from our favorite player at that time — “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” — Michael Jordan