After working for nearly 5 years, a Kolkata boy decided to join his ex-colleagues turned friends who were starting up their own company. They had worked for tech startups in past and helped those companies to grow exponentially. There was absolutely nothing that they could not do, they thought. Three of them used to handle different aspects of web technologies – designing, coding and communication – so it was a rock solid team, they thought. They used to love each other a lot, so it was going to be a long term association with series of products, they thought.
The boy came from a middle-class, traditional family in Kolkata. No one ever started a business in his family. The best advice parents had for their kids was: concentrate on studies and get a job preferably in Kolkata. Tradition! The boy was a bit skeptical about starting a business. What if I fail? What if I run out of money? I don’t have much fund in family, we live in a rented house, my dad does not get pension? Still he gathered enough courage and joined his friends.
First few months were amazing! Finally he got freedom from routine office hours. The kind of freedom that Tagore wrote about, he thought! They had pizza for lunch; they went to movies on Friday morning, worked whole night when necessary and slept whole day. While working on laptop sitting on a bin bag, he thought “Ah, we have started up finally!”
They got few clients from personal sources. The plan was to get a steady flow of money from services and build products in parallel. They got some product ideas and all the ideas were excellent, they thought.
But things went haywire. They made a lot of money but it did not come at regular intervals. They made a lot of commitments expecting a payment would arrive next month; but it was not that smooth. The boy started using his credit card for office expenses and paid the minimum amount which put a huge debt on his shoulder. When the money came finally, it was too small to solve the outstanding dues after getting it shared with the other two.
The boy started panicking. He just got married, he had a family to support, he had to send money to his parents! How can he manage such a huge debt? He sent a lot of mails to the other two co-founders saying “Hey, I am not drawing even 8k in a month, let’s work from our home and leave this expensive rented office, we need to save money, we need to serve our clients better, we need to work on the products, tell me what all tasks you are handling right now, seems it’s only me who is working!” He thought his friends would understand the situation, he thought.
But the other two members were flying around the clouds. Busy with beer parties on rooftop, 3 movies in a week, weekend vacations, trips to abroad, very expensive gifts for their fiancé. They hardly cared about the boy.
Enough! He quit and started working from home. He had few freelance projects which were good to sustain. However, there was a huge family pressure to go back to a full time job. By the way, he had a kid to raise then – his son! The boy also felt that something was lacking – maybe he did not know the ins and outs of starting up a business. Maybe he did not have a clear vision.
That’s exactly when he found a mentor and started working with her as an intern. This was a game changer for the boy. He got to learn the art and science of entrepreneurship from his mentor.
Fast Forward to 2014
As his own startup failed, he is now determined to make others successful. He plans to distribute his knowledge in a scalable way so that others can benefit from it.
11 lessons he learned:
- Choose the co-founders carefully
- Don’t be over-panicked about security; but have a plan
- Speak up your mind; no one cares about what you think
- Never allow the fear of going cashless get on you
- Believe in yourself – if you do not do any bad to anybody, the Universe will protect you
- Never neglect your family
- Never neglect your health
- Never stop reading and writing
- Never compare yourself with others
- Work to add value, money comes naturally
- It’s good to have a mentor in life
Image Courtesy: Zen Revolution