Life of an Entrepreneur is nothing less than a roller coaster. He/She goes through all sorts of emotions during his/her journey of becoming one. In August 2010, I founded Ashwamedh Group – a proposed Conglomerate which works in Education, Personal Finance, Media & Social Work sectors simultaneously. People laughed at my ‘goal’ which confirmed that my goal wasn’t small. I am Deepak Doddamani – founder of Ashwamedh Group and this is my story.
Start early; you will get plenty of time to learn from your mistakes.
Entrepreneurship comes naturally. It exists in you. It is always there inside you. You just have to respond to the calling. In my childhood I earned my pocket-money through seasonal businesses like selling crackers and kandils in Diwali; Makhars in Ganesh Chaturthi etc. I also ran an library, raised funds for community work etc. During college days, I tried Multilevel Marketing, Data Entry Vendor-ship, Silver extraction from hypo-fixer solution etc. During all these ventures I made many mistakes and learned from them.
Don’t wait for the ‘right time’ to start. Start, Build and Nourish !
I always wanted to be Self-employed. So when I completed my B.Tech (Oils, Surfactants & Oleo chemicals) from UDCT; I joined my friend in his Coaching Classes (where I used to teach part-time) and started a college section there. From 2004 to 2008; we worked very hard and did fantastic growth. By 2008 we had 650 students & 2 branches in Santacruz, Mumbai. Due to the workforce politics, I left the organization with a broken and shattered heart. I was the ‘Sunil Grover’ and ‘The Kapil Sharma Show’ didn’t belonged to me, even after all my contribution, efforts, time & money spent on it. But from this experience, I learned the most important lesson of my life. Always enter in a legal contract whenever you do any partnership with your friends or relatives. Don’t trust anyone blindly; battles of ego start only after your business grows. From 2008 to 2010; I did my full-time MMS in Marketing from BVIMSR, CBD Belapur; Navi Mumbai.
You are never too old to start a business.
I started working with NIIT Ltd. as a Marketing Manager after my MBA. I wanted to earn some Capital to start all over again. But I realized that standing on two stones wasn’t a good decision at all because the monthly salary started institutionalizing me into the employee mindset. I resigned from my Job and started Ashwamedh Group in August 2010.
- Ashwamedh Kalamanch (Art/Media)
- Ashwamedh Foundation (Social Work)
- Ashwamedh’s Financial Services (Personal Finance)
- Ashwamedh’s Knowledge Centre (Education)
Bootstrapping from friends, I started Ashwamedh Kalamanch, an Art & Culture centre first. We started with Ashwamedh Kalamanch’s Drawing Competition 2010 (AKDC’10) – All Mumbai drawing competition in which more than 600 students participated. After the grand success of this event we carried out more such events, participated in drama competitions etc. To generate revenue through Google AdSense, we started our YouTube channel where we uploaded videos, Social Ads, Short films and Web serials, all created by us. Our Webseries ‘Ashwamedh Kalamanch’s Hasya Jatra’ was the first ever Marathi web serial on YouTube. Our short film ‘Save Birds’ screened at the Script Short Films Festival Kochi and Vasundhara Short film festival of Maharashtra Pollution control board.
Our short film ‘Nakoshi’ won the first prize at Vasai Mahotsav. We were doing well until I shared the ‘Revenue Model’ with our actors, hoping that they will help us in making viral videos. But they ended up clicking ads and banning our Google AdSense account forever. Never Share everything with everyone; I learned it the hard-way. To continue our work we needed more funds. Technically our videos were very amateur; therefore irrespective of all the hard-work, we could not convince producers and investors to invest in us.
It’s easy to start something by bootstrapping but you need to find Angel Investors simultaneously so as to avoid last hour rush. Do not depend on single revenue sources. There should be a Plan B ready for every plan.
“Conquering our world through love” – with this punchline Ashwamedh Foundation started it’s work in August 2012. We got registered as a Charitable Society and Public Trust in 2013 with 12 trustees. Out of which 4 trustees left in the very first year. It was the worst ever start one can get. Get right people on the bus, and then start your journey, you will definitely reach your destination. In my case I had to allow wrong people to get off the bus first and then start the journey. We filed for a change report to Thane charity trust commissioner and then the wait for change order started. It meant delay in Bank account without which it was difficult to raise funds for our operation. To save the organization, I sold my shares during Modi-rally in 2014 (which were bought in 2009) and donated 50% of the money to Ashwamedh Foundation. Whenever you feel like quitting something, ask yourself why you started in first place? Then take the next course of action. We started our work and shared it on social media which helped us gain some support from our friends circle. They donated in cash and helped us during our survival days. We have completed 4 Audits so far and also received the NGO Status. If you can run a non-profit organization successfully you can run any organization in the world because you neither have products nor services to sell; surviving only on donations is a very difficult task.
Ashwamedh Foundation works in Child Education and development sector. We do not have our own centers. We work with many vernacular medium schools and NGOs. We have also carried out several health camps, awareness activities in leading hospitals and colleges of Mumbai. We helped Kashmir Flood victims & Nepal Earthquake victims by sending collected clothes, rescue materials etc.
Ashwamedh Financial Services:
Ashwamedh Knowledge Centre:
Message from my story:
“Don’t read success stories, you will only get a message. Read failure stories, you will get some ideas to get success”
– Bharatratna Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam
Success & Failure are two sides of a single coin. Success is not permanent and failure is not fatal. Either you win or you learn. Delay your success if you want but never quit !
My views: Values of an Entrepreneur reflect in his Organization. If you will focus more of profitability, then your employees too will work only for their salaries. New Start-Up culture entrepreneurs focus more on creating Unicorns and end up working for their ‘Investors’; which is equivalent to working for some bosses. If your business is missing human-touch; you won’t be able to sustain for long. Azim Premji is more respected in Society than the richest business tycoon Mukesh Ambani because of his philanthropy. David Rockefeller who died recently spent his whole life in distributing wealth of his father, who was stained for monopoly which deprived others from free market & fair competition. So clearly vision of great organizations should be based on bigger purposes and not ‘Maximizing Profitability’ alone.