of the week!!
I recently met Alok Kejriwal at San Francisco who convinced me to write about myself . He thinks there is something I have worth sharing with rest of the world and ended up calling me ‘CRAZY, Super Charged, hyper-positive Entrepreneur‘
1989 – I was playing at little yard we had in front our government railway quarters, when I was told to go to neighbor’s place. Curious 10year old, I asked my aunt (who was visiting us) ‘Why?’ I didn’t receive any answers but I decided to obey the orders and moved along. I felt something wrong about this whole thing, and kept looking at my place from neighbor’s. Few minutes later an ambulance arrived with bunch of folks in it. They all went inside including my mother, father and others straight inside my home. I figured probably its time for me to go back, take a look at whats happening. My heart was pounding, as if it knew what has happened..which should have never happened.
My father was dead! After years fighting with cancer and multiple major surgery, doctors declared him dead that afternoon, and sent him back for final rituals.
A family of four, from a big bungalow we had in Chittranjan, we now moved into one-room, with shared toilets and common area with another tenant. Most of the money we had, was gone in the treatment of my father (I guess health insurance was not popular thing back then if at all existed in India). We used to make shift our beds everyday so that in the morning we can move around that tiny 10×10 room, and in night can sleep on two little single folding cots shared by two each my mother and three of us siblings. Mother took a clerical job with railways, and we continued our studies as usual, thanks to Kendriya Vidyalaya which at that time charged fee of INR 5/- per month only. Life was almost like a normal kid accept it was tough! I distinctly remember not going to friend’s birthday parties because I could not afford to buy INR5/- gift. I distinctly remember getting scolded by my grandfather(who was visiting us at the time) because I bought a book worth INR 7/- (it was 1990s). It distinctly remember few other stuff too, which If I cannot publish. Think about things which could happen with a family with three little kids and widow mother.
Those were my formative years and I think I came out pretty strong out of it. From bicycling 30 kms a day to college, to running a small comic book rental library every summer, to tutoring kids just 2 years behind me in the school to earn tuition fees and more. Not that we fancied those things but there was no other option to survive. It was tough but was normal for us.
I went on like an average kid, but did things persistently. There was (and is) some fire inside. I actively participated in Scouts for about 8 years and went on to receive award from then President of India. Family encouraged and I managed to get admission in MCA in a tiny little college at Meerut (town in Uttar Pradesh near New Delhi). Instead of cribbing about the situation at the college (which was in its own formative years), I just gave all my attention on learning new things, and contributing back to college and figuring out ways to improve things all around me. Fast forward many years, that tiny little college is now a private deemed university with sprawling campuses at many cities, and I am made Chairman of Alumni group.
I did jobs during summer vacations for extended months with special permission from the college Principal. I managed to impress this tiny startup at Lucknow, and got my first formal job offer to join them as and when I would finish my college. Exciting times! was one of the first to get any job offer in the whole batch….easy access to railway’s computer library (thanks to my mother’s job) is now paying off. My elder brother and I worked hard to save some money and bought a decent computer at home. I was good in computers and did small fun hacks to steal password from novell network.(I always told the user after hacking his password and asked him to change password, I guess i was just trying show them my skills). I went on to write a complex pieces of code such as boot loader and more..
Fast forward, I started few companies, joined Microsoft, moved to USA, and then left again to start my latest company 9Slides. Against extreme conditions, driven by commitment to win, I left my cosy well paying Microsoft job to start 9Slides in 2011. No backup, no-one to fall back in USA, absolutely minimal network of Microsoft office mates. My wife was pregnant with second kid. I remember a day where we figured that my wife lost her insurance because we missed the payment. I remember my office mates buying Porsche while i was driving an old car with broken shield. We were living on the ‘edge’. It was nerve wrecking!
We are still living on the ‘edge’ but commitment to win is more than ever. I can see the light of success dawning upon us. Some of the hard work we have done(me, my family, my team) is coming together and I hope I can make my father, my mother, my guru and my siblings proud of. There is this unknown insane thing which is driving me hard, and I believe that we all can achieve whatever we want, what you need is commitment to win.
I am sure you have interesting stories to share too! My twitter handle is @ruchitgarg in case you would like to exchange some chatter.
UPDATE: JUNE 17, 2015