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Why you should never give up on your dreams..

Awarded the

“RodinStar” Post 

of the week!!

LazyNinja turns 2 years old today. And today I will share a story with you.

A story of why You Should Never Ever Give Up on Your Dreams.

Our first venture was ‘ColorSplash’ which failed horribly within 6 months of launch.

We started ColorSplash in MBA first year by taking Rs 20,000 loan from our friends. No business background or knowledge of apparels industry. We built the website on our own and found one t-shirt vendor from Bangalore who took care of entire production and we concentrated solely on growing the business, which was the biggest mistake we made.

Always Keep a Backup…

In 2012, we participated in Mumbai Comic Con by taking a loan of Rs 1 Lacs for stall and t-shirts. Our vendor promised delivery in a week. We were excited and felt like big businesses-men taking big risks. But 4 days before the event, our vendor dropped the bomb that he could deliver the tees only after the event. We begged him, cursed him, shouted at him, but all in vain. Time to put on our thinking caps. What we did? We printed Posters. Lots of them and we filled the entire store with them. Surprisingly, it was a hit; we got 200 pre-orders just from posters of t-shirts. We promised everyone delivery within a week. After the event, we called our vendor and his cell was Switched Off. We were bombarded by calls from people who ordered at the event. We went to Bangalore to check on the vendor and turns out, he was out of business and had left the city. We felt like crying. All our efforts, savings everything was gone and because of no fault of our own. We worked so hard and someone else screwed us over. Our Facebook page was filled with bad reviews and cursed words. We had no choice but to return everyone’s money and apologize. To pay off the debts, we started working on freelance projects. All this, along with college exams and lectures. We lost our confidence and our enthusiasm. And we had to shut down ColorSplash. Lesson? Learn as much as possible about your domain. And always keep a backup.

comic

This was the first time I wanted to GIVE UP… But I didn’t.

Our entrepreneurship fever was almost gone. But I couldn’t let it go. I spent hours and hours learning about Facebook Ads, Google Ads, marketing strategies for e-commerce etc. I took a piece of paper and wrote down what all mistakes we had made in ColorSplash and made sure I looked at them everyday.

Doesn’t matter how many times you fail, you just have to be right once..

Exactly 3 months after shutting down ColorSplash, we started LazyNinja with an aim of becoming the Coolest T-Shirts Brand in India. We targeted niche areas like gaming, pop culture, geeks and it was instant hit. Before even launching the website, our Facebook page had more than 2000 fans. I still remember the time when we launched the website. It was epic, within 20 minutes, our entire stock was sold out. 

LazyNinja was growing at a huge rate. We could not keep up. We used to attend lectures in the day, and pack that day’s orders till late night. Even during the exams when everyone was banging their heads with books, we were busy packing t-shirts. Sure, it was hectic but we loved every moment of it. Deciding to opt out of MBA placement was the most difficult choice we had to make. Imagine convincing your parents that you don’t want to join a stable job of 14 Lacs/annum package and want to sell t-shirts? Everyone thought we were crazy. Parents had one concern, How to get you married? If you are a struggling entrepreneur, then either find a girlfriend or be ready to get rejected many times because you don’t have a job. Apparently, people think entrepreneurship is for those who could not get a job.

Get your hands dirty early…

After passing out of college, for initial 6 months, we had no employees. Everything, from website management, t-shirt designs, packing, dispatching, customer care, we handled ourselves. Entrepreneurship is tough; you are the Chief Executive Officer as well as Chief Plumbing Officer. I wanted to learn about t-shirts as much as possible so we went to Tirupur, Tamil Nadu (the hub of textiles in India) If you are not from South India, going to Tirupur is like going to the mysterious land of Narnia. It’s like a different country. Nobody speaks Hindi and very rarely English. I was determined that until we learn about t-shirt industry in detail, I will not leave Tirupur. Everyday we roamed around learning how t-shirts are made, different types of fabrics, printing process, knitting process etc. The weather was unbearable, the food was difficult to adjust and language was the biggest problem. The 15 days we stayed there were hell.

At Vendor location in Tirupur

At Vendor location in Tirupur

This was the another time I wanted to GIVE UP… But I didn’t.

After just 6 months, we had to shift the office to accommodate the growing inventory. We always paid attention to what customers want. Sometimes we just used to post an idea on our FB page and let people suggest changes in the designs.

To win the race, just stay in the race…

In Oct 2013, we participated in Hyderabad Comic Con by investing almost 3 Lacs for stall and t-shirts. The event was amazing. Our stall was always over crowded. We did not eat or even had water whole day due to huge crowd. On the last day, 3 hours before the event, as usual our stall of over crowded. Suddenly, someone shouted, ‘Dude, your bag.. That guy took your bag.. Catch him.. Catch him.. ’ Turns out, while were busy with the crowd, some guy took our Cash Bag from inside the store and ran away. My heart skipped a beat because all of our earning of past 3 days was in that bag. Almost Rs 6 Lacs. We ran like mad towards the direction he went. We looked for him for hours but no luck. He was gone. The security, the organizers, everyone tried their best but nothing. We just wanted to sit there and cry. We worked so hard without eating or sleeping properly. After the event, the police came and an FIR was filed. It was brutal. All the hard work, all the investment was gone in a second, just like that. My parents started telling me to take up an easy job, why am I going through so much trouble and hardships after studying so much.

At Comic Con Hyderabad

At Comic Con Hyderabad

This time I really really wanted to GIVE UP… But I didn’t.

When we celebrated our 1st Birthday in March 2014, we were touching 100-150 orders per day, which was a huge achievement for us. Our team size grew to 6. Our Facebook community had crossed more than 2 Lacs fans.

One more incident, which will always be memorable for us was during Comic Con Delhi. I had to reach Delhi for the event. After finishing that days’ work, I was rushing towards airport on a bike carrying a huge bag of t-shirts when I met with an accident. I fell directly on my face and was dragged on the road. I blacked out; I could not see or feel anything. I was taken to hospital. I got injuries on my hands, knees and mostly on face. They tested me for head injuries and I was sent home instructing to take rest. My team in Delhi told me to they will handle everything but I was so worried because of what happened in Hyderabad. So, the next day, even though I was in lot of pain, I booked another flight and went to Delhi. Everyone thought I was crazy but I could not leave the team alone. Somehow we finished the event but I had to go to my hometown to rest for couple of weeks and recover fully.

If you are truly passionate about something, you can bear any hardship to achieve it..

Today, We are celebrating our 2nd Birthday. We have an awesome 8-member team. We have changed 4 offices in last 2 years. Last month we have setup our own printing unit to increase our production capacity. We have more than 3.5 Lacs fans on Facebook. We have trended on Twitter at least 40 times on various occasions. Our customer base is growing at a huge pace. We are planning to launch many awesome products real soon. Our revenues are multiple of Crores and we’re aiming to touch $1Million if all goes well. Starting from college hostel room to making a popular brand seems like a dream now.

Huge lot of tees leaving LazyNinja secret headquarters

Huge lot of tees leaving LazyNinja secret headquarters

And we have not taken any funding so far. Everything is bootstrapped. We didn’t get chance to join any Incubators or Accelerator program. We tried to learn as much as possible ourselves and that has helped us survive even in the worst of conditions. I see most of the startups worrying about funding before even launching the product. Funding is not the only criteria for success. Make a quality product, build something great, prove something, make a brand, bleed a little, sweat some more, and then look for funding. And most importantly WORK HARD. We have carried 1000s of t-shirts on our back. We have stayed up all night packing t-shirts. We have learned marketing, designing, SEO, everything by ourselves. But most importantly, WE NEVER GAVE UP. There were many occasions where we really wanted to, where we could not take it any more. Our bodies ached by lifting heavy boxes of t-shirts, arranging the t-shirts but our minds wouldn’t give up. We could get a corporate job anytime we want. We sweat, we bled, we cried in the worst of conditions but we never gave up. And we never will. We are determined, we are focused, and we are on a mission to make a cool t-shirts brand in India. Many people tell me the t-shirt industry is saturated. There is no scope in t-shirt business but I am loving what I am doing, and our customer loves us. We all see brands for watches, jeans, shirts so why not for t-shirts?

What’s next….?

We believe now the time has come to take LazyNinja to the next level. Till now we have done everything on our own. We are looking for mentors and investors who could help us scaling to next level. For entrepreneurs, if any startup needs any advise or suggestion from my experience, I would be happy to pass on whatever little I’ve learned in these 2 years.

I am also launching my second venture in couple of weeks and I am sure all the learnings so far will be helpful in avoiding mistakes made in 1st venture.

Don’t be Sad, be Awesome…!!    :)

I can be reached on Twitter –   @MubaidS

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51 Comments

  1. omg. mubaid… who are you and where have you come from??!!!

    THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST GOOSEBUMPY-BUMPY & INSPIRING STORIES I’VE EVER READ ON A MONDAY MORNING!!

    your tenacity and perseverance amazes me!

    more power to your team.  i’m gonna blast your all over social! i need you to link lazyninja to your website. and pls add your twitter handle at the end!

    mubaid – pls have a look at alok’s funding pitch template and pls use it!

    http://therodinhoods.com/forum/topics/a-ready-to-use-template-for-p

    also, pls share this link with rudrajeet on his ASK page. 

    http://therodinhoods.com/forum/topics/ask-rudrajeet-anything-about-

    all the very best.

  2. ps: we have a “celebrating failure” section. but this story is about celebrating entrepreneurship… 

  3. Inspiring Story Mubaid 🙂 We are very proud to work with you guys (One of the best client of BLV) and all the very best to your upcoming startup SHIPNINJA 🙂 

  4. Thank you so much Asha.. 🙂
    I have been wanting to write on Rodinhood for quite some time now.

    So happy that you liked the post. And I have been following Alok’s pitch template for long time. Its definitely one of the best pitch template out there.. 🙂

  5. Thanks a lot Hari.. You are also doing a great job. Loved the quick turn around and creativity of BLV. Will promote it once ShipNinja is launched.. 😀

  6. ps: happy b’day team!!!

  7. Mubaid, I would like to sum up everything in one sentence. “You guys are awesome, keep Inspiring!”

  8. Thanks Karthik.. 🙂  Long time.. You are doing a great job as well..

    Let’s catch up some time.. I have moved to Hyd now..

  9. Thank you Asha.. 🙂  The journey has just started..

  10. dude i just checked your site – the couples tees are cute!

    but the hoodies – especially life begins with coffee IS AWESOME!!! i noticed the price – 399 – is this your two day b’day bash sale? too bad my size is outta stock – will keep an eye on your products for sure!

    all the best!!

  11. Hey Mubaid!  Thanks for inspiring many of us. I agree that Giving up is never an option. It’s always about digging out ways that lead you to your aim. How you came out of your grim situations is simply inspiring! 

    Keep rocking. Hope to meet you soon!!

  12. haha.. Thank u so much.. Ya actually we are launching a whole new series for couple t-shirts. These 2 designs were for testing if people will love it and it was very successful. So I will launching 10 more couple designs in 1-2 weeks.

    We recently ran a big sale so everything got sold out  🙁   Working on replenishing the stock soon.. So glad you loved it.. Any ideas, suggestions, criticism is most welcome..

  13. Thank you so much Anamika.. 🙂   Its true, I have always experienced that if we don’t give up and just keep moving something will turn up for good even in worst of situations. To win the race, just stay in the race.. I am happy the story inspired you.. 

    Cheers..!!

  14. Inspiring is the only word that came to my mind when i finished reading your story… truly truly inspiring 🙂 

  15. Thank you so much Rohinee.. 🙂 

  16. Mubaid sure. Would be eagerly waiting to learn from you! 🙂

  17. Happy Birthday Mubaid and Team.

    It’s really inspiring for any entrepreneurs. Two things I liked the most is about the determination of never giving it up,which should be never an option, & more importantly you were bootstrapped. You proved that funding doesn’t really matter if you have the belief to make it happen.

    Keep Rising !

  18. Thanks Mayank.. 🙂  Yes funding is just a part of business and not the heart of business. We should focus more on building a sustainable and profitable business. Funding, investors everything will follow later.. Cheers..!!

  19. Superb Stuff Sir. Inspired !!

    Karan

  20. Thank you Karan.. 🙂  Glad it could be an inspiration to others.. 

  21. Such an inspirational read Mubaid!
    Our first huge corporate order was also messed due to no fault of own and we lost our whole funding we had for our brand since we had to repay the company back. But it’s so good to able to relate to someone who also went through the same struggles and is from the same industry. Would love to have a chat with you and learn from you 🙂
    Ps- We recovered our mojo and found a way to fund ourselves so see you in the T-shirt brand domain in 4-5 weeks 😀

  22. Thanks a lot Sahil.. 🙂
    I know man. Almost everyone who started a t-shirts venture have been deceived by vendor at least once and has lost lot of money. We did it twice.. :p   That’s why we spent 15 days in Tirupur and learned each and everything t-shirts industry. 

    Great to know you are also stepping into same business. We should talk. Would love to pass on whatever I could. At least you could avoid the mistakes I made.. 🙂

  23. I keep visiting tiruppur and everytime it’s a new experience 😉
    Just let me know, how can I have a chat with you? 😀

  24. hey mubaid, 

    alok shared your post over social y’day. there is a comment you might want to respond to.

    • Siddharth Taparia They have built a business on stolen IP and infringing copyright. Not sure if the business is legit and the perfect role model.

      Like · Reply · 1 · 8 mins

      • Asha Chaudhry @siddharth tarporia – that’s a serious allegation. care to comment on the main thread so mubaid can respond?

        Like · 1 · 

  25. “We always paid attention to what customers want. Sometimes we just used to post an idea on our FB page and let people suggest changes in the designs.”

    This is the key that paid off for all that hard work.  In my jargon “find the hungry crowd, feed them!’  

    Great going Mubaid.  

  26. Thank you so much Abey.. 🙂   We are trying to build a community around it. We do not want to be a one way store like everyone else. If we can get customers to engage with us it will be much easier to take steps further because we will know exactly what people like and did not liked.. 

  27. Hello Sahil.. Ping me on Facebook or email me.. We will discuss.. 🙂

  28. Hello Asha, Siddharth.. 

    I can understand the point raised. Many people raise this concern. Actually when we started, there were hundreds of t-shirts stores. To stand out of crowd, we wanted to target very niche crowd. We realized pop culture and movies were picking up very aggressively in Indian youth and at that time no one was making t-shirts around that. People used to import from foreign. So we decided to target that. But the main concern was copyright violation and taking up license was very very costly affair. So we started doing lot of research. We read about copyright violations, trademark infringements, what is allowed and what is prohibited. We studied all the t-shirts brand in US, UK and Australia who printed such t-shirts. We noticed many brands in US making tees on famous TV series without taking license. So we emailed them as a customer asking if what they are doing is legit and got to learn a lot of things. We learned that its a very grey area which is very debatable. So for each design we make, we put a lot of thought into it that we would not directly write the series name, or use logo or character face. A famous dialogues, an indirect reference can be considered as fan art and is allowed for printing. So we tried to be very careful. Each of design is also goes through check when we participate in Comic Con India where Warner Bros, DC, Marvel executives personally visit and take down the designs which are copyright violation. Still, would say I am still learning. I am still studying. We started with niche domain. But we are moving away from it now because as we are growing, we do not get involved in any complications later. So our main focus has now shifted to mainstream designs with some innovations like Couple T-Shirts. We are also in talks with Warner Bros and hopefully in couple of weeks we will be official licensed partner for them.. 🙂    I would love to know your suggestions if any how we can improve.

  29. Wow ! One of the most inspiring story I have read about entrepreneurship ! Hat’s off to you for your perseverance & determination . Got to learn many things from you bro .Thanks Mubaid for sharing your incredible story with us.  Best of Luck with your future ventures .

  30. Thank you so much Tanmoy.. 🙂
    Any feedback, suggestions or criticism is most welcome bro.. 

  31. The best piece I have read in recent times. Thanks for the jab Mubaid!

  32. Thank you so much Anand for the kind words.. 🙂

  33. You used “We” in the whole article. Kindly put some light on who “we” stands for..Did all from the first venture stick till today? Or u were the lone survivor?

  34. haha.. That’s a great observation Anand.. 🙂
    It was started by 3 of us but with time priorities changed for other and they left. But I am still standing.. 🙂

  35. I thought so.. 🙂

  36. hi mubaid,

    so sorry i messed up the top of your post!

  37. Ohhh.. haha.. I got scared seeing the message.. 🙂
    Thank you so much.. So happy.. 😀

  38. Hi Mubaid, A really inspiring story. It has made my day and energized me. Please let us know what was the driving force that kept you going ahead. Is this your love towards design of t-shirts, entrepreneurship or website? What do you love most?

  39. I remember I had visited your stall at Hyderabad comic con 2013. Sad to hear such thing happened to you. It was free entry at Comic con in 2013 and it had resulted in huge crowd at HITEX venue. In 2014, they had entry fees to avoid crowding at the venue. 

    Your story is amazing! Hope to see you this year in ComicCon at HYD.

  40. Hi Hemant.. Thanks buddy.. I guess the desire to create something awesome which people will love, to build something from 0 to an awesome keep driving me. Money was never in focus. Each time I feel like giving up, I Remember Why I started in the first place. I go through old photos and fb posts and it fills with the same energy with which I started 2 years back.. 🙂

  41. Hi Rohit.. Yes you are right.. In 2013, there was no entry fee so the crowd was huge. And that lead to the theft. On the same day, 3 other stalls lost their money. Later on, entry fee has been put up to avoid unwanted crowd. We are definitely gonna be there this year… 🙂   Hope to see you there..

  42. Great! I stay near the back side HITEX convention ground and go everyday for a jog in that area. A peaceful place and well planned. We will surely meet this ComicCon.

  43. That’s awesome.. 🙂  Lets meet for sure..  Any suggestions of feedback regarding LazyNinja is most welcome.. 

  44. Congrats Mubaid on LazyNinja turning 2. It was a pleasure reading the post and have no words to express my appreciations to you. Many would have quit midway but the passion in you took you through. Good luck!!!

  45. Thank you so much Sarathy for the kind words.. 🙂
    Would love to know any feedback or suggestions. Thanks

  46. Hi Mubaid, your story is truly inspiring. I’ve just started my journey and this will give me an impetus to think beyond ordinary.

    Will be following you and at the same time keep us updated.

    ~ Sunil Suri  

  47. Generally I open posts in tabs, read a couple of lines and then read them later at night.

    Could not leave your post in the middle. What a journey you have had!

    Hats off for the perseverance. As the saying goes, “Sabr ka phal meetha hota hai”. Am sure this is just the beginning.

    Would be happy to host you over a cup of coffee. We are in South Delhi. Ping me when you are in this part of the town.

    Cheers!

  48. I remember Starting up together (at the same time duration).. Our conversations about facebook ads, how we learned it and all. 2 years down the line, look where you have reached :)) I’m feeling proud to say that we did the first twitter trend campaign for lazyninja . I still show it to startups .. :)) 😀 I remember you writing long apology and sincere emails while discontinuing the services. No client does that. They just do fake fault finding in your work. Don’t give up. Don’t even think about it . You’ve done a great job! 

  49. Thank you so much Sunil.. 🙂 

  50. Hello Zuhaib..

    Thank you so much for the kind words. Sure, I strongly believe in not giving up.

    I will surely ping you if I am there in South Delhi.. Thanks

  51. Hi Garima.. 🙂

    Of course I remember. And look at you also. I feel so proud that ViralCurry has also grown so much in short span of time. We need more businesses like you which doesn’t depend on funding and valuations alone.. 🙂  And I won;t give up. If nothing, I will join ViralCurry.. 😀

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