The What If Question
February 19, 2013
What does it take to start a start up (Indian style).
When Abhishek Garodia first arrived in London from Asia, he could not find any concise information in one place of all available gym classes in his neighbourhood and so was born the idea of playenable.com It is a platform, which goes across all the fitness and facilities classes in the neighbourhood. You can schedule, book and pay through this site.
Asif Walli’s story is slightly different. After many years of working in the IT industry, following an epiphany on a crowded train, when he realised he had to do something different, he launched his Duke of Delhi brand of biscuits to recapture the taste of the Nankhatai (semolina biscuits) as cooked by his grandma which he could not find anywhere else.
What strikes me is that they are both of Indian origin and are taking a different path, trying to start their own companies, far from their home country.
In fact the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that it is, because they are far from home, that they don’t need to conform to the one track yuppiedom that comes with the territory of being born and brought up in the competitive Indian society of one-up-man ship--where my son is going to IIM, is your’s kind?-- of conversation that marked much of my early twenties?
Yes, there are the Tata’s, Birlas, Ambanis and many other such made-in-India business houses who started out as entrepreneurial ventures, but they came from either the very rich (Tata’s) or the lower middle class (Ambanis.)
Certainly everyone I grew up with--and came from a solid upper middle class background went onto the tried and tested, corporate route. Mind you I don’t grudge them that either, it’s as good a life as any, and has its rewards.
But the problem arises I think when you are entrepreneurial at heart, and yet conditioning pretty much dictated thewhat if scenario. ie. what if you were to that to try to forge out on your own, follow your heart and what if you were to fail? How would you show your face in society? So, one kind of stuck to the corporate route, earned one’s bonus and went on.
It is only now, i.e. more than fifteen years of having left the home country and after being through quite a bit of the corporate tread mill myself that I am tempted to ask the question what if I were to succeed?
Like the Duke of Delhi mentioned above, in a moment of epiphany born of a near death-miscarriage-experience, I realised that life really was too short. Perhaps it was time to ask myself some of these more uncomfortable questions and face the answers than going to my funeral pyre with silence?
What do you think? Do you agree?