Akash is an engineer from one of India’s best engineering colleges – R.V college of engineering. Like most of them out there, he had the will to do something great and significant, and he did start a venture during his engineering days, and is working on an idea now.
This article is basically an interview which revolves around the dilemma of taking the leap or not, the hardships, and the reality of entrepreneurship.
1. How did you explain the entrepreneurial dream to your parents ? Were they okay with it, or did it require convincing them of your dream ?
“I’d probably do whatever I want to do regardless of their approval, but if I had to convince them, I’d explain my perspective to them. I’d tell them how entrepreneurship is different from what everyone else is doing. My dad tells me ‘Everybody takes up a job, so why is it hard for you to do the same ?’ . To me, freedom matters more than anything else. Maybe working at a 9-5 job will be fun, but I don’t see myself doing that. My dad didn’t seem to understand, so I’m doing what I want to anyway.
I realized I can’t do things for others, or what he wants me to do. I can’t be unhappy like that. If I have to be unhappy, then it has to be with my own choices. ”
2. You studied in one of the best colleges in India, and most of your friends already have great jobs right now. Is that fact eating you ? Was there any point in time that you thought that this was a bad choice that you’ve made ?
“When those companies came in to recruit students, it hit me hard. I saw that they offered a lot of money and maybe that was making me want to get a job. I always knew I didn’t want a job; but at that point, it was really hard to decide.
For the next 10-15 days, I began to think real hard about what I wanted. This was probably the toughest decision I had to make in my life. To be able to do what I want was more important to me than working really really hard for some company where I don’t get to do what I want. At the end, I figured out what I prioritized more and went with it.”
3. If the entrepreneurial dream doesn’t work out for you even after a year’s hard work, will you quit, or will you strive harder to achieve ?
“I’m happy and content if I make ends meet while being an entrepreneur. I don’t really have that aim to revolutionize the world or anything. That hardly happens anyway. So, whatever choice I’ve made, I won’t regret.”
4. You had started a design company about a year ago – Awed by Creativity; What happened to that ?
“When we started doing it, we didn’t really know anything about art or business. But, I learned the process quickly. The amount of time and money we were spending on it didn’t yield the desired results; plus I didn’t quite enjoy what I was doing. It seemed logical to stop working on the startup rather than mindlessly pouring efforts into that.”
5. Most of the engineering grads choose to work with other companies, earn money and make a living despite the fact that they have the urge to be an entrepreneur. But you skipped that entire process and started off with working on your dream. What made you do that ?
“I watched this TED talk which talked about how we justify every single thing that we want to do, regardless of whether it’s good or bad. I have an idea that I’m working on now, and I’ve my own justification of why I’m doing it. Apart from having my freedom, the reason is that I believe that I can do something with the ideas that I have. It made sense for me to work on that first.
I was scared when I took the decision to opt out of the placement interviews in college. I still am. What if this doesn’t work out ? No matter how hard you’re working, until you’ve achieved true success, you’ll always have that thought in the back of your mind. I wanted to face all these fears and overcome them.”
6. When you started Awed by Creativity, what skills were tested while working on it ?
“One was designing. I didn’t really know much about designing, so I kinda learned through the process. I learned the basics of Photoshop in a week and worked on designing for our first client.
Conversing with people is something I learned. I always wanted my partner to do all the talking with the clients and the manufacturers. Then I thought that if I wanted to be an entrepreneur, then these were the basic skills that I needed. So, I backed myself into talking to people and negotiate with clients about the prices for the products that we offered, and with the manufacturers about the prices for making those products.”
7. Did you think Bangalore was a good place to startup ? Is it still ?
“For Awed by Creativity, it didn’t really matter where we started it. The orders that we received were all from the market that we could get anywhere. But coming to the question, I think it’s a great place to startup. It’s not called Silicon Valley of India for no reason.”
8. You’re a computer science engineer from R.V.C.E. Did you gain enough knowledge from college to apply it in your life ? Or, in other words, did the degree you earned help with anything ?
“Yes, definitely. There were basic skills that I had to learn for it to help me. Web designing was something I learned which did help me while I was setting up the website for Awed by Creativity. The new idea I have also revolves around setting up a website, which I can do myself instead of going to a firm and spending lots of money.
But you need to learn a lot more than what is taught in colleges if you want to apply that in any practical thing that you want to build. I’m not really qualified to be the CTO of any company, but to be one you’d need to learn a lot more than just PHP, CSS, HTML, C++. Speaking to the potential CTOs out there, I’d recommend learning Django, Ruby on Rails and NoSQL databases like MongoDB for all the back-end platforms apart from whatever you’ve been taught.”
9. All of the entrepreneurial buzz that we hear now started very recently. Suddenly, everyone owns a startup. Do you think this trend will last, or will the enthusiasm die ?
“I think more people will choose entrepreneurship, and they’ll want to build something of value. Nowadays, people are more expressive and courageous. It’s the perfect atmosphere to pursue what you want to do. So, I think this will last.”
10. As an aspiring entrepreneur who has already taken the first step, what advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs who want to take that step, but are scared to ?
“One thing that I believe is that people who want to do something will figure out a way to do it, regardless of how hard it is.
My advice would be to get your priorities straight. If you want a luxurious life with the least amount of effort, then entrepreneurship isn’t really the way for you. People work really hard being an entrepreneur and luxury only comes much much later, if you succeed that is.
For the middle class people, my advice is this – It’s not that you have to startup as soon as college ends, or during college. You still have time. If your family is dependent on you, then you could probably take up a job, work for a couple of years and then startup. I didn’t really have that problem, which is why I’m working on it now.
If you really wanted to be an entrepreneur, that desire to be one will not die out.”
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