Friday, November 09, 2007


Here's a thought - a thought around what is the best way to identify what you're supposed to do when out of college. This post is regarding someone, who I shall call A in this post, who followed his dreams rather than settling into an easily available and comfortable position.

I met A straight after my grad school, when I was about to begin my first professional experience - A had done bachelors in engineering, post which he chose an option which though would not rake in lots of moolah, but would surely give him an opportunity to do the work he wishes to do. A co-founded a firm in Mobile VAS space, and till date, the firm has achieved such heights in terms of recognition that even most established firms in that space can not boast of. Starting from bagging the first emmy award for a mobile application, to winning young achiever award, to getting the much coveted reliance appreciation award for two years in a row - this firm has come a long way. Having featured in the Young Turks on CNBC and after getting offers from the best movie production houses of the country, there is hardly anything that A's firm has left aside in terms of getting honors. And if I ask someone after telling all this what the strength of A's firm would be, one would be amazed to know that today, it is sub-5.

I myself have closely been related to this firm and hence have known what are the challenges this firm has faced. And A's commitment amid all those challenges has been nothing less than exemplary. I myself have been an integral part of a startup, and I understand what are the intricacies of running a business all by itself. Bootstrapping has its own facets; so does funding - but finding a right mix between all permutations and combinations is the need of the hour.

Coming back to A - the challenge A faces today (I believe this is the REAL challenge) is that he is short of motivation. This lack of motivation comes from the fact that there is shortage of people who can make up his team. It is always a pain to see that though everyone wants to make big money by getting involved in a startup early, no one really wants to get hands dirty. No one really understands that in order to play these cards, one has to be ready to be in a position where he/she does not even get paid for an year (just a time frame I quote here)! Just the other day I was talking to this guy in Ohio, when it came up that he really doesn't want to invest much in Indian startups because the risk appetite of people here is very low - everyone wants instant results, which is hardly ever.

And the real difference is made by the support that these bootstrappers get from their families. Because in Indian context, the culture is such that one needs to think in multiple directions and take various scenarios into consideration before taking any such decision. There is always a tussle on whether one should take a ten-to-five, decent paying IT job, with multiple opportunities to travel abroad and make chunks of money every now and then; or to tread the path that would make you think about your bread and butter before going to sleep every night, but will definitely give you a sound sleep at the end of the day, because what you did in the course of the day was what you really wanted to do in first place.

This post is digressing from A, and I'll just redirect it.

'A' today has an option of continuing the way he is, struggling with getting the right kind of people, but having a sound sleep whenever he gets a chance, and ultimately doing the work he loves to do; or he can get into something conventional and take a comfortable life, doing something he doesn't really relate to. Options befitting, choices galore..

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