#thegoodfight

It was 2004, when I got into IIT Roorkee & I still vividly remember how I felt, when I first walked passed by LBS (our cricket stadium) seeing other students practice in the nets. Having played a little professional cricket at the state level, I immediately felt the urge to play for my institute and win at the Inter IIT level. However, when I showed up at the practice the next day, my hopes were quashed as I was told that our institute had never went passed beyond the first round. Walks in Pandey sir – our cricket coach. He asked me what my speciality was and asked me to pad up. After the knock he told me that I should be regular at the sessions and give my best if I wanted to be a part of the Institute team as he wanted to build a special team & ‘believed’ that we had a good chance at winning the cup if we worked really hard. It got me thinking that he must be really optimistic or a total dreamer, considering the record of the team in the past. 

The practice sessions got tougher and started demanding a lot of time, dedication and commitment. I had to let go of lots of things and spend the evenings on the field. One thing that really inspired me was the dedication of Pandey sir himself. He himself never missed a session, bowled himself to most of the important batsmen of the team and asked bowlers to bowl at him as well. Ran equally hard with the team and did every drill along with the team. This was for the first time I was witnessing the importance of the coach in my life. We no doubt had a very strong line up and a very committed and an inspiring captain. But all the pieces of the story were stitched by Pandey sir from selection of the team to the drills to the after match hang outs. It was his leadership and his coaching which assisted us in winning the cup for the first time. He created such a high calibre team that we repeated the feat next year as well. That’s the importance of a coach, the impact created by the coach that 10 years hence I still believe those matches were one of the best days (and certainly memorable) of my life.

It’s the coach who stands by the side of his team and pushes them to the limit. It’s the coach who helps them resists temptations and do the right thing, makes them accountable. He guides the team in fighting ‘the good fight‘. What Fight? You may ask. Yes, its a fight. Whatever your dreams are, you always have to fight to achieve them. You will always find numerous obstacles – some external but mostly internal. Everything said and done, it boils down to the fight with the person in the mirror. We are our own biggest enemies & we all are fighting our own ‘good fight‘ in our lives. This is where the role of a coach can make all the difference. A coach acts like ‘Krishna’ to the ‘Arjuna’ in the battlefield, showing him the right path always, pushing him to his limits and guiding him to do the right thing. This makes all the difference, when the stakes are high. So here is big thank you to all the coaches out there & to all who are fighting their good fights. 

Cheers.

 

Tagged , , , ,

Orobind : the story of my good fight

What seems completely illogical to most, somehow appears a very simple thing for me to do, always. And this time around also it wasn’t any different. Moving out of Chai Point, just seemed the right thing for me to do though the route to arrive at this decision was anything but simple. It was a journey of self discovery, self realisation and almost of spiritual proportions.

Well, I have always been one of those guys who have questioned things – authority, order, processes, elders, teachers & more than anything else – the purpose of existence. Whenever the questions start overpowering my most convincing answers, I come to know something is missing in life and things need to be changed, the direction of life to be re-looked.

Somewhere towards the end of 2013, one of my colleagues at Chai Point met with an accident and passed away. He was a great guy and an inspiring personality. One of those figures who had the ability to influence people just by their personality and sheer energy. It was a complete shock to me. I didn’t know how to react. How was a leader supposed to react. As a person, it wasn’t for the first time I was going through this, I had seen my brother pass away in an accident 5 years back around the same time of the year. But it was as if a reminder of the finite nature of life. It forced me to re – think my purpose in life. Why did I exist, what I wanted to accomplish and what I had to accomplish before I leave the world. It was as if, during the last 2-3 years I had neglected these questions, ignored them and chose an easy life for myself. A life where I was blinded by making more money, bigger name, buying a big house and a big car. That’s what all my goals had come down to. But this was a jolt, as if something convulsed me out of a deep slumber and put me into a really uncomfortable position. For a few days I was walking in my office as a lost soul. I was a lost soul. Nights were sleepless and full of nightmares. My intensity at the gym increased dramatically partially because I used that as a recourse to tire myself to sleep. Didnt help. So finally I decided to take a weekend off and travel to Pondicherry. Why, because I loved beaches, thought it would be a good break and a friend was there. I wanted to meet her. Also I wanted to think and clearly articulate my purpose in life. I had decided that I wont stop digging deep unless I had successfully articulated my purpose. So I started walking alone around Auroville. Thinking and asking hard questions to myself. Thrashing all assumptions.

I started looking at the life of my heroes, the lives well lived, according to me : Gandhi, Steve Jobs, Sachin Tendulkar, Che, Nelson Mandela, Arnold, Dalai Lama.

A common pattern started emerging : they all had impacted lives of numerous people in their lifetime. They inspired & forced people to achieve the unachievable.

While a life wasted, according to me was the one which never transcends impact beyond 5-10 people in the first degree of connection (essentially family, few friends and few colleagues). Now nothing against or for any of them, its just my personal opinion which stemmed from deep within me.  And without being blindly following or rejecting what they had done, I had to chose my unique purpose in life. Finally after walking for ~ 12 kms, I was ready to articulate my purpose in life :

To build companies/products that impact people’s lives for good, by a factor of 10.

To be very honest – till that moment in my life, my goal in life (like any other middle class Indian man) was to be the richest person of the country. Shallow, I know. I wanted to be the guy who owns the biggest house, travels in swanky cars & is super loaded. This led me into thinking of all kinds of businesses from security systems to energy to airlines to IPL. Yes, dreams. “One day I will get that” type day dreams. Making me live under continuous duress and a race against time.

Anyhow, now, I was much clearer on what things to pursue in my life and what things to let go of & was happier as well. I also happened to visit the Sri Aurobindo ashram by chance. I had no intentions what so ever to visit the ashram, but, the auto driver who brought me to Pondicherry form Auroville prodded me to see the Ashram & when I got in I just entered into a trance. It was as if the trip would have been incomplete without paying a visit to the ashram. Just before leaving for the bus station, I decided to sit on a rock for a bit and enjoy the moonlight night at the beach road, as if to revisit my stay here over the weekend. It was a beautiful scene – a slightly turbulent sea and a full moon. Almost made me imagine myself of as a sailor going through a storm of my own. Storm of questions still unanswered, essentially – What should I be doing when I get back to Bangalore ? While meditating there, it was as if a voice came from inside me which said – “The path lies in front of you”. Now when I look back and connect the dots, I always knew the path, I just never saw it.

I came back to Bangalore, decided to pursue a project very close to my heart – to bring people with disabilities to main stream through jobs, infrastructure and education. But I was still living the same life pretty much. After a while, the unrest returned. The nightmares returned.

I had started reading works by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Their teachings started resonating with me. I also started being extra critical of myself, of my surroundings & stripping away all unnecessary desires. Months went by, New Year’s was around. One of my friend’s friend threw a house party. Her’s was a house straight from a Karan Johar set. I had never been to a house like that before & never seen so many cars and dogs under one roof before. This was exactly the mansion I had dreamt of having, but something strange, really really strange happened there. Somewhere between the home theatre, pool tables, Ekta Kapoor’esque staircases & the bar, I grew super uncomfortable. When I imagined myself to be living in a house like that, made me feel really uncomfortable & almost suffocating. And next day I decided that I should always live in a simple home & let go of my obsession with mansions. Life became a little simpler.

The same day, I met a few other friends and was lucky enough (really?) to get a ride in a Merc. This was for the first time I was sitting in a car that I wanted to own, to show people that I had arrived. I was excited at first, but then that feeling of being uncomfortable returned. I started making comparisons with my little Chevy & I again realised that I felt much more happier and comfortable in my Beat than an extravagant car. Nothing against the car, nor the taste. But I wasnt made for it. I decided that I need to stick with a simple car, an SUV at best. Always. Again felt relieved and a tad happier.

Meanwhile, I had already started working towards my non profit venture and had started engaging with Enable India. It was a very humbling experience, my life would have been a complete waste if I died without doing anything for people with disabilities. This clearly had to be a core purpose of my life. Along with my entrepreneurial endeavours to create an impact on people’s lives. But the sad part was, what I was doing at that moment wasn’t in alignment with the above two goals. This, I only realise while connecting the dots, now.

Though everything from outside was going on fine in my life – great work, good life, good money, good physique but from inside I was torn. Time was flying by.

One night, I had a dream which I still believe was almost a divine intervention to shook me out of the slumber, yet again and act. An intervention to remind me that the time was limited. I woke up at 3 am in the night with tears in my eyes, shaking with fear and completely lost. I was alone & I didn’t know who to call and what to do. I called my friend in Mumbai, she didn’t take my call & disconnected. I couldn’t sleep for the rest of the night. What if it was true, that the time was indeed limited.

Next day I walked into the office, still thinking about what had happened last night. Somewhere deep inside me I knew the path, I had to move out and work on my fitness idea, which was with me for the last 1 year, but I just kept talking me out of it and kept cajoling myself to prolong my stay at Chai Point.

I was now reading more extensively about Sri Aurobindo, which helped me make sense of what was going in my life. His philosophy about the journey of the soul and the goal to seek divine through being conscious, living the day to day life & yet being a yogi made complete sense to me. I also picked up Bhagawad Gita by Sri Paramhansa Yogananda. Reading first few pages only, from the great book, filled me with a feeling of blissfulness. One lesson that left a great impression on me was

Everyone fights their fight daily. The fight is between the right and the wrong; the maya and the dharma; the mind and the soul; the desires and self control.

I was confronted with questions again :

  • What was my purpose in life?
  • Why my soul has been sent to this earth?
  • What was its purpose.Was it serving its purpose?
  • How was I creating an impact on people around me, what would happen if I die, what would change?
  • What was maya and what was my dharma?

I was clearly fighting my fight and also clearly losing at it.

After thinking a lot, I realised that the true reason for me not moving out of Chai Point, was a fear of failure. Fear. I always thought I didn’t even know what that meant. I realised I was indeed afraid of letting go of the potential wealth that i might create at Chai Point in pursuit of something still uncertain with my fitness technology idea. I was driven by desire and greed to make money. It was my worst fear – to not to be able to make money and die poor.  There were times in 2009 when I was struggling in Mumbai, I used to question : am I destined to die poor or will I ever get rich(these were times when I constantly had < 100 Rs with me) ? After a lot of introspection I figured out that it was better to die poor : a person who made lots of money but gave all that away for good cause than someone who made a lot of money, lived an unhappy life, scrimped every penny & die a miser with lots of money lying unused in the bank. That would be so regretful at death bed , the realisation of what you could have done with all that money but you never did.

So, I knew that failure for me was not trying at all. If failure was the destiny of my soul, who was my ego to stop it from achieving it. My dharama (or Swadharma) was only to let my soul to be free on a path to achieve what it had to achieve. The path, was simple to build companies which impact people’s lives. The moment I agreed to this, I felt much more powerful. I clearly saw that sticking with Chai Point, was just Maya, my fear of letting go of wealth, my fears, I had to let it go. This lead to another learning : since the onward journey is almost spiritual for me, failure was not an option. Coming not from my ego but from my aspiration. A fierce aspiration which had manifested into my living being.

Next day, I had a conversation with Amuleek, someone whom I had always looked up to like a mentor. Like an elder brother I never had. Our conversations had always been man to man, no mincing of words. This time also, he understood. It was a shock for him, but he understood. We shook hands and it was done. The very next moment- I felt really, really happy & free. A feeling I had almost forgotten. Now the journey lied ahead, a fight to be fought and to be won.

Next day, I boarded the bus for Pondicherry again. I went to the ashram and it almost dawned to me that the venture had to be christened around Sri Aurobindo. Thus I started searching for various names around him and from his works : after failing with various permutations and combinations – I decided to check his wikipedia page – I found the name in the first 4 words. Orobind. I was elated. It was always in front of me (again), I just never saw it (again). Thus Orobind was born.

Since I was getting more influenced by his teachings and that of Bhagawad Gita, I decided that our culture and the brand positioning will be inspired from this great text. We as a company will always play a role of Krishna (the spirit or the coach – allegorically) to the Arjuna ( the user). We will always be there to create an impact and show the right way to the Arjuna aka user, but it is the user who has to fight the good fight. The fight will be between the mind and the body, fight between the fit and the unfit, fight with the person in the mirror.

Now, I know I might have created a lot of ripples in various communities. Some might even be worried with the reigns of the company being in the hands of a Co Founder, CEO who speaks more of spiritual aspects than business in the blogs. While some others might be getting wary on placing their bets on us as a company. To be very frank, I am unfazed, it is my dharma to fight this fight. Orobind is more than a venture for me, its my journey to achieve my purpose of life on this earth, to achieve my destiny.  And I will give it whatever it takes, whatever I have. It started as my good fight, but now I have other warrior also as my co founder in this fight. We both share the same passion and same vision. We will ensure that we are successful in creating tangible (not perceived) impact on the lives of our users.  Now, I oscillate between being a Arjuna most of the times and a Krishna at other times to lot of people.

As I wind this up, I sincerely urge all the readers of this post to identify their good fight & get in their battle field to fight that fight, because our time, indeed is limited.

Thanks !!

Tagged , , ,

So long, fellows.

So, the big news is that I have recently moved out of Chai Point, will no longer be a part of the awesome team but still will continue to be an evangelist for the brand as I deeply believe in it. Have decided to don the entrepreneur hat again and see how we can disrupt the fitness industry.

So long, fellows. All the best :).

Tagged

A big milestone

Chai Point team achieved a big big milestone today. We opened 2 stores on the same day, one at Bhikaji Cama place in Delhi and one at the Bangalore International Airport. After spending endless hours in bringing the two stores up, it was such a relief seeing our customers happy and satisfied. Obviously there was a lot of room for improvement, which we definitely noted, but today for me it was more about the moment when you just decide to isolate yourself and let the moment soak in, a moment of graduating from one level to another. I am sure the whole team feels the same. Here’s a toast to the feat achieved & those yet to be achieved. 

Long time & no blog

Alright, I finally mustered all my energy, dumped the inertia and decided to write a post. Realized on my linkedin page, that it has been over 280 days since I wrote my last blog post, thats an awful lot of time. A lot has changed in my life, personally, professionally and physically ( lost a couple of Kgs, of fat, finally). So now I have decided to blog a lot more frequently and share my learnings here. Well that’s it for today (this is a fresh start, remember) :).

Tagged

The life after

Life has been on a ‘Nitro mode’ ever since I came back to India after finishing my fulfilling stint with Schlumberger. I believe there is only so much a person can learn while working in a huge organization, and I had learned what I had to. Any time longer would have made me more complacent and averse to risk taking.

Still working almost 24 x 7 but a lot more at peace with my inner self and enjoying my time.

Choices…

It is 6 in the morning, its my birthday and I am unable to sleep. Ok, I will admit that I am a little drunk (nothing new, I know), that gives me a little leeway to be a little bit melodramatic. Ohh, just noticed, too many “little”s already. Anyway, had been dwelling on the drift of life recently, too much Mad Men, Jack Daniels and Cohibas are to be blamed along with my incorrigible nature of always thinking and over analyzing stuff.

“Being practical” has never been my forte and frankly I don’t regret that, frankly I never regret anything. If I have made this far with being impractical, survived for 26 years, had great friends and even greater memories and experiences, I am sure, I can make it through the rest of my life as well. In fact my advise to all you guys (not many girls read my blog, unfortunately..sigh..) trying to be practical out there, DON’T BE. Be foolish and fail, if you have to, just live the life doing what you enjoy the most.

Obviously, that is not a very intelligent piece of advise,considering all the pressures to make it in the ‘real world’,credit card bills, EMIs, mortgages, I know; didn’t I mention I was drunk. But do you really want to be remembered just as a guy who survived in this world, cleared all his bills on time, sent money back home,blah blah, is that what life is all about. If it is then why is it that when you see a colleague of yours starting a rock band, or becoming a comedian, you immediately like his Facebook page and say silently to yourself “sahi hai yar”. And frankly if you don’t, just don’t bother reading ahead. See you later.

I am not advocating to shy away from your responsibilities, all I am trying to say is, if you do what you want to do and would love to do, there are still ways by which you can survive, be happy and enjoy the ride. Trust me, the best memories you will ever have will be from your worst times. I remember only two birthdays in my life, one in 2009, where I was homeless and penniless, spent the night with my luggage in a Mumbai local, before I called my brother to get a shelter in IITB. And the second one, in 2010, when I was working on the rig floor, no longer penniless, but still away from my loved ones, doing what I enjoyed, but not loved to do. Both were equally bad, though I prefer the 2009 one as it sounds more dramatic, classic hindi movie types…arrghh, alcohol!!!

In the end, it all boils down to the choices that you make, or the ones that you don’t. What ever you do, don’t try to fool the guy in the mirror, some how he always knows the difference. As it was said in Kung Fu Panda 2, it’s not what you are, it’s what you choose to be. So quit what you hate, start doing what you love and go after your dreams, before they come after you.

Here’s one more to my 26th and the life ahead.

Tagged , , , ,

The right thing to do..

Well, any one who knows me or have just read my previous entries would be knowing that these days I am working with Schlumberger, in Saudi Arabia. The job is great as one thing that I knew about myself for sure was that a regular office desk job will never be my cup of tea.

But for an entrepreneur a job is a JOB, no matter how exciting or thrilling it might be. Same is the case with me, but then at times I wonder, then why do I get up in the morning and head to work in obscure locations with the same enthusiasm or stay up for almost 48 hours when the job demands. I guess the reason could be that the stint with SLB is making me more sincere and dedicated towards work. I mean there are always things that you like to do but some times you have to do things that you don’t like that much but still you have to do them as thats the right thing to do. Before SLB, I never did anything which I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to study the boring and extinct theories of metal extraction, so I didn’t. Though many argued against it, but thats the way I was. But now there are no more such choices, I just have to do it, no matter how much I crib or whine but the job needs to be done. And thats making me happier because I think that was one quality that I needed to learn to move ahead. So when I head to work I don’t think “Why I have to do it” I think ” I just have to do it.”

Tagged , ,

Are we Independent yet!!

A very Happy Independence Day to everyone on either side of the border. In the 64th year of independence how free are we? I mean, I don’t want to get into the political and literal aspects of freedom and the connotations it spurs in our minds, I am talking of something more deep. I am talking about the relevance of Independence in our lives.

Since 1947 we have fought just 3 wars, the latest being in ’99 at Kargill. So does that mean we have been free ever since? Or let me just take my case in particular, I was born in ’85 so I missed the first two wars, also I read somewhere that almost more than 50% of Indian population is in its 20s so that means they also missed the wars. And most of us during the wartime were not directly related to the war like it used to be in the old days of ‘mutiny’ and ‘Satyagriha’. Now I ponder on the question again ‘ If we are not fighting any war, how relevant is the Independence to us?’

For me in particular, I feel that we are fighting a more severe battle; without any condescension to our martyrs; because in our case the enemy lies within us, there are no boundaries and no guns in this war. The war that most of us wage is between our hearts and our minds. Most of us are born with some talent and most of us have dreams. But as we grow older, ‘reality’ start to dawn on us. We realize along the way that being an astronaut or a cricketer is not possible, being a singer or a painter sounds absurd and it seems more sensible to pursue ‘safer’ options, obviously because we cannot feed our families or satiate the expectations of the society by following the heart. Right?

Practical and sensible makes more sense and seems safer. Thus starts a war which we all wage daily, day in and day out. Some people fight it when they look themselves in the mirror first thing in the morning, some people fight it tossing and turning sleeplessly in their beds and some, when they see some daring warriors win their fights.

For me right now, I fight it day in and day out and console myself by considering it as a prelude to the good fight. Till the day I win my own independence, I will not be able to celebrate and appreciate the happiness independence brings in one’s life. And for you, who is reading this, I wish that you too win your war for independence soon.

Tagged , , ,

The Road Ahead

It has been over a month and I have been procrastinating to prepare this list. So finally while on my way to Saudi, I just jotted down the “Super 7″ items, at the back of a tissue.

This year 2010 will be an year of : –

  • Financial consolidation
  • Better personal relationship
  • Extensive hardwork
  • Bolder risks
  • Better health
  • Traveling
  • Excellence
  • I hope I will be able to make them as a benchmark and strive to make this year more meaningful for me and my family.

    2009 at a glance

    It was very hard for me to remember each and every thing that happened last year so I am just jotting down here a few thoughts that come to my mind when I think of the months, of the previous year..

    January

  • Recovering from the shock
  • February

  • Upasana’s marriage
  • Waiting for SLB
  • March

  • Going to Mumbai
  • Scopial and meeting with Rohit Kaushik
  • April

  • Bollywood
  • Struggle
  • May

  • Full fledged struggle
  • Living the dream
  • Sleepless nights
  • Financial crisis
  • June

  • Worst birthday ever
  • LG Assignment
  • Living the dream
  • Homeless
  • July

  • Quit
  • Joining delayed
  • Unemployment
  • Lots of doubts in my mind
  • August

  • Brothers birthdays
  • Joining SLB
  • September

  • Great days at OFS
  • Transformation
  • Continue reading

    Happy New Year

    A very happy new year to the readers of the blog. I spent the new year with my family and my girl friend at my home and left the very next day to meet my college buddies. I must say it was a little hectic but I thoroughly enjoyed every second of the days gone by.

    Well as I was very busy for the past few weeks, I didn’t get any time to think over the developments of the year 2009. But now I am free and thus will be jotting them down and putting them on the blog. I also think that the coming two years are going to be very crucial for me so I think I need to be very focused and very well planned. So will be preparing a road map as well for the same. Have to figure out lots of stuff and then work accordingly.

    Amazing Thai trip

    I am home these days after spending a fab time in Bangkok and Phuket. The place is amazing, full of wonderful beaches and green (salty though) water. It was a holiday I was craving for after the last two weeks of the ENG-1 course at the Schlumberger training facility at Abu Dhabi.

    One thing in particular that struck me was the freedom this country had to offer, with women, working 24/7 even in retail stores and as hawkers selling yummy Thai noodles to a trans sexual doing the so called “main stream” work. It was simply amazing to see how kind and warm thai people were.

    In the mean while I also accomplished 2 more things from my Bucket list : Going to Phuket and getting a tattoo…

    Tagged ,

    The Regular JOE

    I feel that I have transformed into a zombie these days; doing the job, working out and tossing in the bed sleeplessly. But this post is not for the physical state I am in, it is for a reason which is much more grave than that. I don’t have any dreams anymore. May be because zombies never had one and were never expected to have one anyways.

    I no longer dream of being rich, of being famous [ or going on a date with DP :) ]. It is something which is very strange because I have been a dreamer throughout my life. May be it is because of the job, may be I am slowly becoming a part of the system, joining the rat race and waiting desperately for my pay check. Suddenly “Follow your dreams”, the maxim I used to live by seem to have evaporated, and the bubble of surrealism I had created for myself seem to burst.

    This is when I start questioning myself. May be I am not special, not meant to do special things in life? May be I am just another guy who is blessed with decent looks not so much like Brad Pitt but not less than the regular Joe; the guy who is talented enough to survive and wade through but not the one who escalates and reaches the top echelons; the guy whose red carpet is laid when he enters his house, off course without any paparazzi; the guy whose swagger is natural when in the company of his friends and bloated like an air balloon when amongst strangers.

    I know I am not that guy, because I am still fighting to not to be the regular Joe.

    Blogging hiatus

    Hi all,

    I am missing internet connection these days as you could figure out with the dates of the posts. Thereare a couple of reasons, one I blog only when I feel that I have something substantial which is worth your time and secondly I dont have an internet connection these days (again) and cyber cafes suck in India.

    In the mean while I am collecting my thoughts and will come up soon. By the way read The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, I highly recommend it to anyone who is committed to self improvement and excellence.

    Spare the spelling errors if there are any coz the keyboard and the monitor are driving me crazy.

    The year that went by….

    It has been an year exactly, since I graduated, left home and landed at the Bangalore Junction. The period wasnt rosey at all but I am not writing this post to let the world know what I endured, because for that I was prepared when I set out on this path.

    In this post I am just listing all the events that happened in the previous year, which moved me, changed me and taught me. Whenever I am alone and close my eyes these events flash in front of my eyes, some make me laugh and some moisten my eyes.

  • Leaving home after having an argument with father, convincing the ticket checker and traveling without a berth for almost 3 hours – I was confused whether the journey will be worth it or not, it always is very confusing but one has to take the plunge and have faith that things will turn out well.
  • Working at CommonFLoor and learnings from it, interacting with Hims and Shayak da and learning from them – Two inspiring,motivated and fun loving start ups running in front of me egged me to start my own.
  • Rejecting Schlum’s offer – felt like a free man and was very very happy.
  • Starting dietz – was ready to take the rocky road. Another decision which wasnt supported by my family. Just trusted my conviction.
  • Sharing room with Bishnoi – we never used to like each other in college, but when I dropped my inhibitions I started liking him and we became very good friends. Dont judge a book by its cover.
  • Tough times – Times were tough but I had my friends supporting me always. Tough times are actually the biggest test of friendship and I am glad that I had it so early in my life and all my friends passed with flying colours, god bless them.
  • Learning about mother’s disease – All of a sudden my yielding started and confidence broke. It was always my struggle not my family’s.
  • My first order and delivery – Woke up at 6 in the morning and prepared the sandwiches, only to hit an old man enroute. Never break traffic rules, always wear a helmet and if you hit someone – RUN.
  • The Accident – I still remember the look on the man’s face, that smirk, when our eyes met for a fraction of second, before he came running in front of my bike and I said to myself ” Ye bhagne kyu lag gaya” and the next thing I realised, we both were on ground, the bike was still on, I could have ran away but I didnt and I was caught. I could have dealt with the situation better if I had maintained my composure and presence of mind. Even when things are totally against you and you are breaking just hold on, you will get your time to shed tears, but first get yourself out of the mess.
  • End of dietz – read somewhere quitting is leading too. Dont agree totally but makes me feel better.
  • Passing away of my cousin on his birthday – One day I want to forget and delete from my life. I still curse myself for not calling him up and wishing him, delaying it and eventually SMSing him only to learn that it never reached him. Never hold back your feelings and expressions for some one, it might be too late when you express.
  • Broil at my Convocation – It was one of the most embarassing experience of my life. It taught me that one should never think too high of his strength, there is always someone stronger than you and in larger numbers than you.
  • Accepting Schlum’s offer again – Family comes first.
  • Taking a job in Mumbai – Always wanted to experience living in Mumbai, what better opportunity than recession.
  • Theater workshop – Not joining the dramatics club of IITR was a wrong decision I made, what better time to rectify it. As they say “der aaye par durust aaye.
  • Jobless-ness – Dont want to take up a regular job right now. Its better to break the conventions at times, though it means giving up things that you love the most and at times your food too.
  • So this is it. I have tried my best to not to get in to the details and narrate the incidents. I have also refrained myself from over emphasisings on the learnings as I dont want it to be a sermon or as they say here in Mumbai ‘ bol bachan ‘.

    Back after a long hiatus

    I havent been blogging for a while, mainly because of the unavailability of the internet (since I am no longer working) and I am too lazy to draft a blog on my laptop and then upload it from a cyber cafe. But now I have regular internet access, at least for the time being (I am still not working, it is the hostel of IIT B).

    I am experiencing life and seeing different facets of it. One year has passed since I graduated and it has been one long and testing year for me. Times were tough, professionally and personally. It was on the 16th of June that I landed in Bangalore. I am currently jotting down the events that happened between 16th June’08 to 16th June’09, these events changed me as a person, and I feel they changed me for good.

    On 16th of June’09 I will be posting the list of events and my learnings from it on my blog. It might not be in sync with my entrepreneurial writings but is surely very important to me.

    Bootstrapping is the way to go!!!

    I first came across the concept of “Bootstrapping” reading Guy Kawasaki’s post on his blog and I was in the final year of my college at that time. I also read more about it from Guy’s book The Art of Start, which I feel is a fabulous resource for anyone who is starting a venture from scratch. If you dont have any prior experience then this book is your bible.

    After reading the chapters for ‘n’ number of times, I thought that I had understood the concept of bootstrapping, until I was proven wrong. I went for an internship at CommonFloor.com after my graduation. At that time the team was 3 people strong, me and Mitanshu extended it to 5, though for a brief period of time. It was that one month at CommonFloor that I learnt a lot about running a venture. The venture was bootstrapped to the core and under the tutelage of Sumit and Lalit, cofounders, also hailing from IIT Roorkee, that I learnt the traits of bootstrapping and how thinking a liitle creatively an entrepreneur can do away with unnecessary expenses.

    No marketing activity was carried out until and unless it had proven its ROI on paper. I dont think that they did any sort of outsourcing and learnt all the traits of the game themselves, which further saved them loads of money and left them enormously well equipped to tackle any situation in the future.

    Here is another very interesting and insightful article on Bootstrapping.

    You can also download “The Bootstrapper’s Bible” from here. It is Seth Godin’s wonderful ebook on how one can make bootstrapping his way of life.

    I now feel that it has to be a part of one’s lifestyle when one is starting up. I still remember how I saved lots of money myself while starting up dietz. As an entrepreneur you cant afford to accept things as they are.

    Say for example, why do you need an external agency to run marketing campaigns for you, or an external agency to build the prototype for you. If everything has to be done by external agencies then what’s your role? To manage them, co-ordinate with them, you might say but will you learn anything that way? I guess no, even if you do then the cost of learning would be too high!!!

    If you ask Sumit or Lalit anything about their technology, their business or entrepreneurship in general they will tell you so much that you probably will repent asking the question in the first place.

    So go ahead, bootstrap your venture, it will be fun and once you have mastered it you will realise how creative and knowledgeable you have become.he

    Tagged , , , , ,

    Whats your brand!!

    Read a very interesting post by Seth Godin about personal branding.

    It discussed how important it is to develop and work on developing a brand in yourself. I cant agree more, I could relate with it, because whenever I want to know anything about anyone I simply google it and judge on the basis of the results shown.

    Instantly I googled my name and found these results

    mybrand

    My blog still doesnt rank in Top 5 results of my name, and most of the results are my comments that I have posted on some popular blogs, but still I guess they give a fair bit of an idea to the seeker, that the guy (thats me) is interested in entrepreneurship and with my professional profile (linkedin) over my casual (facebook) one it also gives a pretty decent start to the search.

    What is it that google shows up when you search your name?

    Tagged , , , ,

    Sole Proprietorship or Pvt Ltd. common doubts!!

    This is a common doubt that most of fresh entrepreneurs have. I myself was very confused when I was starting dietz, but then I read a lot and finally concluded in favour of a Sole Proprietorship.

    Sole Proprietorship (S.P) or Pvt. Ltd. here are some commin doubts along with their solutions :

    * What will be the difference in registering as a Proprietorship and as a Private Limited Company?

    ANS: You dont need to register a sole proprietorship, just get on with the business, all you need is the licenses, VAT etc (if at all) which are intrinsic to your business and you can do all those legalities by mentioning your company as a S.P. If you want to register a private company, hire the services of a reliable CA and he will help you out with the process, normally a CA will charge around 20-25k for this and around 10 will be charged by Registrar of Companies (if you register the company with minimum paid up capital of 1lac, it is the amount that you need to have in your bank account while going for registering process.) You also need to get the name registered first for starting a Pvt. Ltd company, which has to be approved by the ROC first.

    * What is the difference in costs in starting a Proprietorship vs. a Private Ltd.?

    Ans: There are no starting cost for a S.P, sparing the license fees and VAT etc. whereas you require a minimum of 1 lac rupees as a paid up capital, which is nothing but the amount of money that you need to have in your account/company account while registering the company. You can withdraw and use the money later on. You will also have to spend on licenses and VAT, etc still.

    * Do I need to work with a CA or a lawyer for this issue? My product is in development stage and I don’t want to invest much money at this stage.

    Ans: You dont need a CA or a lawyer for a S.P, if you need licenses then you have to get it from nagar nigam, for sales tax etc you might need CAs. If your product is in a development stage then spare yourself the horror of the procedures and develop the product first, atleast get on with the prototype, these formalities should not be your priority as of now.

    * If there is a company by the same name that I want to use in a different country and in a different sector, can I use the name of that company?

    Ans: You might if the company is not that prominent. but do you actually want to do that, I mean you cannot open Wal Mart technologies, I guess you have got what I am trying to say. But avoid this because one day you might want to take your company global and then you might end up in a legal broil, I know a friend who is facing this problem.
    But in India you cannot use a name which is same or similar to already registered names. The ROC will reject the name all together.

    If you are running low on funds then it is better that go for a S.P, converting it to a Pvt. Ltd is not that difficult, but the issue is that the name can be taken by any other organization, so simply get the name registered, which stays valid for 6 months, the cost for this is very less as compared to the registeration of company.

    Consult a CA and he will guide you, you can talk to them they will elaborate the process further and the website www.mca.gov.in can be used for further legal requirements. Also you can check the name that you have thought on this website as well.

    All the facts and figures are as per the Companies Act of 1956, the new bill is yet to be debated, it was scheduled for debate in the winter session but due to 26/11 it got overshadowed, rightly so. Another reason to curse terrorism.

    Tagged , , , ,

    Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying!!!

    Watched Shawshank Redemption yesterday!!!

    It is such a marvellous creation and tell you what, you appreciate it more, when you are out of hope, when the path you are treading is rocky and gloomy!!!

    Each and every dialogue, then seem to be written perfectly and enacted perfectly.

    ” I find I am so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head, I think its the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey, whose conclusion is uncertain.” Thought Morgan Freeman, after being granted parole.

    I remember the feeling I had when I declined my offer and started my venture dietz foods. I was free!!!

    Shawshank Redemption

    Shawshank Redemption

    I didnt wear helmet that day and broke the law, so what I didnt care. I had already broken some of them, by rejecting the offer. It was awesome and only an entrepreneur can feel that way.

    Tagged , , ,

    When Will they learn!!!!!

    Heck!!! I am tired and exhausted!

    No, I havent returned from my gym, it is not that taxing. I am talking about clearing the thousand odd mails which were lying in my Inbox, unread. Only thousand???? Yes! Because I keep deleting the rest as they come.

    Though it took me a lot of patience, to delete them..first select them and then delete selected mails on a page. Gmail can be annoying at times. Why dont they have a feature where I can delete all the selected emails from my Inbox (or am I unaware of it). But the whole process gave me a valuable insight about the marketing strategies employed by websites to increase their user base.

    Stop Spamming me!

    You cannot increase your user base by sending auto generated invitations. Even if you succeed, it wont last. You need to have an exceptional product to win!!!

    Initially websites used to send out emails, randomly by gathering email ids from various forums, social networks etc. The strategy failed terribly. Email providers like Gmail, learnt soon that these emails are nuisance to their users, so they developed a self learning algorithm which could identify the mails frequently marked as spam by their users and the ones which were deleted unread. Automatically, the next time such a mail came, it was stored as a spam.

    Spams werent personalized back then and had the name of the website sending it in the heading and the content in the subject.

    Over the last few years, these campaigns have changed too. Now there is your friends name in the senders slot. When your friend’s name is there as a sender then it is likely that you would atleast pay some heed to it. The procedure is simple – when you sign in, you will be asked your email id and password so that you can see people who are already there, and invite others who arent there.

    Here comes the problem, with so many invitations coming in from people in your network, instead of prompting a sing up, it provokes irritation, which was the reason my Inbox was full with such crap requests.

    This strategy did work for some, like Facebook and linkedin.com but dont forget the product was exceptional and people needed it, thus they succeeded. But there are other websites which are offering mediocre services, or simply put are Me Too.

    I once landed on Birthdayalarm.com, after receiving ‘n’ number of requests. And the results werent too shocking. I was sceptical and when I saw the homepage I was proven correct. Setting up birthday alarms and sending e-cards,is what they do!!!

    I have most of my friends on facebook and orkut, and the birthdays are clearly falshed on my homepage there. It took me hardly 10 seconds to reject their service. I am pretty much sure that I wont be visiting their website again, not in the near future at least.

    Just because some of my friends have signed up for their service doesnt mean that I need to sign up too. Infact it made me more sceptical. And on the top of it the service didnt entice me much.

    Just because you got my email id from some where doesnt mean that you have the right to market to me. Seek permission from your customers and create a product that makes your customers talk about it. A personalized email by a frieand is better than the one sent by a website and that too in the name of my friends.

    There is an exceptional post, on the same topic by the marketing Guru Seth Godin, he calls the stuff Permission Marketing and he truly understands it.

    Till the time other marketers and entrepreneurs understand it, I and numerous others like me will keep wasting time, cleaning their Inboxes.

    Tagged , , , ,

    Do you have it in you!!!

    You feel that you have a great idea, a large pool of funds to take you forward and a good network of people to rely on. But what about you, the captain of the ship? Do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur.

    Here is a quick evaluation test. Just follow the link and take the test and get a detailed analysis of your entrepreneurial abilities and get to know yourself better.

    It is a behavioral analysis and a test of your entrepreneurial potential by Mr.Bill Wagner. He has been the forefront of entrepreneurial practice and research. He himself is the Co-founder and CEO of Accord Management Systems, Inc.; a firm dedicated to helping executives make logical conclusions about themselves and the people within their organizations. He works closely with entrepreneurship focussed organisations like TEC or The Executive Committee, the Young Entrepreneur’s Organization (YEO), The International Franchise Association (IFA) etc.

    I thank Mr. Amit Singh of kickstart,for sharing this valuable link on the friends of kick network.

    I scored 76.

    How much did you score
    1) Above 90
    2) 80-89
    3) 70-79
    4) 60-69
    5) Below 60

    View Results

    Tagged , , , , ,

    5 Things “Fresh out of college entrepreneurs” cannot afford to miss

    1)A Soulmate : Entrepreneurship is a lonely job, things are so volatile, you never know what reaction or comment can throw you into a negative wave. It is always advisable to start with a partner who is as passionate as you. But, at times it is hard to find one, so I suggest that instead of going with a lantern in your hand to find your partner, its better that you start and keep your options open. Just make sure you know how to separate the wheat from the chaff. Just dont listen to people who bog you down and keep motivating yourself. Remember your point of view and that of your peers will never match, if it would have been that way then you would have taken their advice and never started up right after college, in the first place.

    2) Forget Venture Capitalists :It is very likely that you would be thinking that the VC community is right there to fund passionate dreamers like you. You will gather their email ids and mail your executive summary to them and sleep like you will be getting an appointment the next day, after all it is a $ 50 million idea. But soon you will realise that, that day never came. What went wrong?? VCs are entrepreneurs too, they have to raise funds like us and make difficult choices like us and trust me it is very hard to put your money on a rookie. SO FORGET VCs!!! Borrow from your colleagues, friends and family and build a prototype asap and circulate it in your alma mater and see the response, make corrections, and keep increasing your user base. Which is at times more important than your ‘never been done’ before idea. Just dont wait for the perfect product to be built with “n” functionalities. Take up small projects, do free lance writing,SEO, teach kids in your locality or whatever suits you to pay your monthly bills, or like in my case just pass on the dinner cheque to your girl friend.

    3) Prepare an elevator pitch : You should do this on day one itself. If you have a team, great, keep every thing aside and do brainstorming on your pitch first. Your product may take months to go live but in that time you will meet people who will ask about your work and your venture. You might not meet them when your product is launched or your service is out there in market, so that first meeting is your chance of leaving a lasting impact. Even if you dont have a team, discuss your venture with your closest friends, see their reactions, keep them in mind and when you get home (or office, it is the same mostly) put it down on a whiteboard and see whether did they buy your story and if they did how much time it took you to drive the point home, if not then you have to create one. Rehearse by saying out loud. This is the best way.

    4) Networking : The first thing you should do is get the visiting cards ready. Make it a point to attend all the events ,no matter how big or small, that have anything to do with your venture, you never know, may be you meet your first client there, or a hot shot VCs who wasnt even bothering to reply to your mails. A conversation is always better than an email. And dont just carry your cards, you are going there to spread them, just feel free to talk to people, make your elevator pitch and exchanging cards. You never know from where you find your first client. Follow up is even more important, dont forget to drop in an email to show that how much you appreciate the time of people you met at the function and put their email ids in a separate group and stay in touch, just dont pester them.

    5) Be good and be humble : One thing that an entrepreneur can afford to have is “ego”. Never say no to anything, you should be crystal clear about what you want to get and how to get it. I mean at times, people will dictate terms to you, but as long as it is not hurting your venture you should abide by them without being hesitant. Developing relations is an art and many a times the success or failure of your venture depends as much on them as on the product/service itself. The world is getting smaller, you never know from where you get your first client, your VC, or your employee. Everyone in the entrepreneurial community has a strong network so you dont want to piss any one off. And respect people who are not entrepreneurs, not every one can do what Steve Jobs did neither can every one do what you are doing.

    Tagged , , , , , , , ,
    Follow

    Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.