Flat, marriage and family – 3 reasons why young Indians don't turn entrepreneurs!

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Disclaimer: This is my personal experience, quite a few people agreed to what I wrote, please feel free to disagree. 

If you are from India, have been a part of a regular middle class family and have even thought of starting something of your own, am sure you’d associate with the headline itself! Everything that I’ve mentioned below is based on true incidents. I don’t intend to hurt anyone here, still if you did, sorry about it! Getting to the point, straightaway!

Marriage:

About an year back one of my very close friends told me about a product idea. I liked the idea and told him I could work with him on that if he’s willing to seriously build it. His answer was – “yaar abhi job nahi chhod sakta, 6 mahine mein shaadi hai” [Dude, I can't quit job right now, getting married in 6 months]. Okay, get married but why do you want give up on an idea you believe in? Your girl will understand, won’t she?

Guess what? Obviously, he never build it and few months back I saw someone (very famous in the startup community) roll exactly that product out and is quite close to getting funded too! Yeah, my friend’s “happily married”, barely at 27!

I know an entrepreneur who literally fights (or used to at some point) with his wife everyday just because she wants another kid and he doesn’t. His company has just come out of startup mode and is heading towards being an SME. ”I have a 4 yr old kid and having another one now would take me 4 years back! I have been slowly planning the financials but this would mean I start planning all over again, save even more and take even fewer risks!” is what he said!

One of my ex girlfriend had started talking about marriage barely when we had graduated. I never denied marrying her but I used to tell her lets first achieve something, I want to do a few things in life, be a successful entrepreneur and all this might take a little time, there’s no point in getting married quickly and then allocating funds to expenses that could have been avoided at that age, but no, she wouldn’t listen! Of course, she’s happily married and I, having failed 2 startups in the past, am still building another startup! (I hope this post reaches you, lady!)

Oh! And that concept of getting your kids married at the right age => guys before 30 and gals by 26-27 max! I’ve always stressed, there’s nothing called such as a “right age” – why not just get married when you are ready – 25 or 32 – how does it matter? I hope you’re not thinking about that old shit about retiring and then marrying your kids before that <- That actually is the root problem!

Family:
Sorry to say, but the uncles and the aunts in our (normal middle class) families are the worst. They will keep asking your salary, some of them every single f***ing month. These relatives are probably the ones whose kids would have done “nothing” in their lives, graduated from some (worthless) A league institution in India and landed a fat paying job. And believe me these are absolutely good for nothing folks. If you are a startup guy, you already know that, don’t you ;) They would join a company through campus placement and would be too scared/complacent/useless that they would spend their entire life within that single organization – without even doing something innovative! These uncles would be happy to show the entire family that the ad in TOI today was done by their kid while all that ad would have is a bollywood diva holding a soap bar in her hand. THATS IT!?! That’s all you learnt in your fancy B School?

What’s the big deal in it? If I pay TOI that much, they will even publish a horse shit pic, they just want money! But no, these are the ones who are valued in your family! Whatever they say areGolden Diamond words. What’s worse is you are always compared to these dumb folks whenever you go to a family gathering. And most, all of them would look at you as if you are the piece of shit lying on the roadside.

To share another case, one such highly respected family member told me to look for a career in animation, back in 2007-08. Recently, I met him at another family gathering a few months back and he said “tum animation me kuch kyu nahi try karte?” [Why don't you try something in animation?] I was like…dude? You are still the same! Your thoughts are still stuck where they were 4-5 years back! By the way, this member is probably the highest respected person in my family and heads delivery at a multi billion (yes Billion) dollar enterprise and travels abroad every week. Yeah, (sadly) that’s what puts the stamp on his authority! Am quite sure even Steve Jobs or Bill Gates would have spent more time with their families at his age (and still earned much more if that’s what you want to hear).

More problems we face with family/neighbours in this book.

Flat:

The other fantasy about middle class family people is owning a flat! I never get this point. I, really don’t! Why do they want your kid to buy a flat and then spend the rest of his life paying back the loan? Coming from middle class, we’ve never had loads of money to spend. So the way out always is to pay probably a 10th or even less initially and then take a loan for 60% for the next 15-20 years.

And is duly supported by our Financial system! Go and try to raise money for your startup and the same money for a home, you’ll know what I mean!

Once you have a loan on your head, that too a home loan, for not less than 40-50 Lacs, am sure you wouldn’t be willing to take a risk, would you? And that tension of repaying that loan! Anyways, there is very little probability that our kids would stay in that house for long. They’d go places, do stuff in life and make it big themselves! Actually this would connect with Rahul Dewan’s post where he talks how retired people should recede back to smaller towns and do great things. A brilliant thought by the way, go read that!

In another relationship, I told my girl that I don’t earn great right now and that I am trying to build a company and shared the vision. At first she appreciated my honesty but then within a few weeks she asked “Abhinav, hum ghar kab lenge?” [Abhinav, when will we buy a home?] That day itself I knew – she wasn’t the one! No wonder that relationship didn’t last long.(I am quite sure you’re reading this!)

I guess I’ve written, read ranted, too much already or else I won’t be allowed to enter my hometown the next time!

Update: I realized most people, even though agreed to this, say its inconclusive. I must add this: The point is that people who can bear all these pressures and can still build a company, are the ones whom we call SUCCESSFUL!

Originally posted here

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Comment by Amit Arora on March 7, 2014 at 10:26pm

hahaha... abhinav I can corelate every word... Adding to your Post:

Family: whenever my parents see any marriage card, they get emotional and say " look at your friend, he is such a good son, and you are a stupid son."  recently my parents got to know that my friend was blessed with a son :-) I was very happy for my friend but my parents again emotional.   

Comment by asha chaudhry on November 21, 2013 at 12:02pm

sachet... thanks for sharing the link here. because you did, we were able to show this video at the recent delhi open house and called abhinav on stage as well.

he's posted the video here! 

http://therodinhoods.com/forum/topics/the-tea-break-comedy-short-film

Comment by Akanksha Bumb Sachdeva on November 20, 2013 at 9:55am

Abhinav..great post!
Although I did find it a little male-centric and a little (just a tad) misogynist; but I guess you can't help it!

The story at the other end is as frustrating. So when a guy quits on his dreams for marrying a girl sometimes cant even dream. Sample this "How can you start an idea in Ahmedabad? Who knows where will you land once married!" OR "What if your would-be husband is in a transferable job?"
May be the pressure of FLAT isn't as much, but the FAMILY gets worse. 

But I think it boils down to individuals. I left my job to figure myself out and do what I had dreamt of, when I was still single. My husband did that a month ago because he realised that being married is an asset and not a liability.

Comment by Suresh Mansharamani on November 11, 2013 at 8:40pm

I went otherway round. Marriage (30 years now), Family and then business and was successful by the age of 30. I think age, situation, marriage, family ,government, economy has nothing to do with entrepreneurship. If you have the passion and integrity, nothing can stop you from success.

Comment by asha chaudhry on November 2, 2013 at 11:50am

abhinav... didn't realise this film was inspired by your post!!! this is incredible!!! many congrats!

Comment by Abhinav Sahai on November 2, 2013 at 11:26am

@Sanchet/Amit: Thanks for sharing. Yeah, Anand in Infy did this after reading the blog. Thankfully they have given me credit for the story at the end of the video. :)

Comment by Amit Dang on November 1, 2013 at 8:06am

@sachet: you are the man:) amazing amazing amazing video....a must must watch:)

Comment by Sachet Desai on October 31, 2013 at 7:56pm

Here's a short film made similar to your article....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykl2gZRs5ZU

Comment by Rishi Gorantala on October 22, 2013 at 5:47pm

Great post and very well written.

Comment by Aalok Pandey on October 20, 2013 at 1:17pm

Abhinav, Very true & very hitting.

but unfortunately though, very true, the 3 dimensions of existence.

lets math is out! (am playing devil's advocate here :) )

suppose i start building the next google or whatever.

1) The probability that i would make it large, is dependent on over 100 parameters, practically, only 35-40% are those, over whom i could exercise control.

2) Add to this, that on the other side, i am running on two rigid tracks, time & resource (read money, et-al). This puts serious  deviations to the already thinning probability of making it.

3) In theory, 1 out of 100 get funded, but when in practice, i realise, its over 1 in 500 to 1200.

4) Luck will take its toll, and either way, i believe it or not, its gonna take a role, whichever side.

5) If i add all those parameters, the sum total of the probability of success is less than  0.005% . Plz detest  this, for higher grade.

 NOOOOWWWW. when you look at the Flat, Family & Fiance (FFF) - BTW, Fiance, already starts sounding like Finance, so be prepared  -  fools, suddenly, on a maturity level on the sojourn, you realise, that there is toooooooo much betting on a thing. Investment bankers (read buffet & all) say, never put all your money in a basket. In short, hedge your risks. But in a startup mode, there is simply ZERO hedging. And that's when the real problems begin.

 In a virtual case, if i fail, all these FFF's would come back, & not even say that look, 'I told you', they would rip-of-the-carpet below, and rob you of your confidence & ability to do anything creative, that you would ever want to do in life (Assuming you were almost near to the final exit of your startup, and had to bear serious losses)..

 The point i am trying to make is reallly veryyyy simplleeeeeee !!!

In my ego & run-up to the passion for the dream i hold, it would be prudent to hold on to the wisdom and 'follow-the-rules' laid out informally by the tradition ( Including FFF, friends, religious guru's, et-al) , even science ( read Maslow ) , get to the basics (read, get a flat, get married, & bring your family, also make some money, donate, do socio, et-al) and then they are the guys, who would comeeeee foooooooooorward to say, "Dekho, kuch naya karne ka socho, baki sab to sahi chal raha hai" .

 In a startup life, its not about failing, its about 'Not Giving Up', and quite literally, not giving up every bit of wisdom.

 Hope i am not sounding too conservative, fearful & dejected. But if unfortunately, there has to be a parachute, if you do need to crash land in life. :) And that is common sense.

 

Stay Blessed.  !!!

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