The NEXT Chapter Begins! #startupjourney

Last year and a half has been excitingly eventful. It all started in August of 2013, when I joined Parth & Nikhil in their startup TommyJams. I vividly remember the day Parth called me. It was 10 pm on 19th of July when Parth and I had our first conversation on joining TommyJams. In the beginning, I wasn’t too sure about the prospect, but after a couple of skype calls with both Parth & Nikhil the next day, I decided to take a plunge into the startup world. I was so excited that by 21st morning, I had my train (from Jaipur to Bangalore via Delhi) booked to make sure I join them on or before 29th of July at Microsoft Ventures.

Why is MUSIC a dear friend and Why did I join TommyJams?

Music is very close to my heart since childhood. I participated in a lot of music competitions (group category) during my school days. There was, in particular, two reasons why I was so mesmerized by music. First, it made me super-happy (for no apparent reason) and second, it gave me a sense of being present in this very world. That was my fascination with music in school. Now, what about college? At BITS, I was exposed to tons of new music and especially to Indian music scene. At around the same time, I started following music talent shows like X-Factor. Watching hundreds of artists/musicians fulfilling their dreams on the X-Factor stage gave me thrill beyond measure. By the start of 3rd year, I made a promise that one day I am going to do something for musicians. So, getting an opportunity with TommyJams, where I can do good to both artists and music lovers was a dream come true. And, I joined them to experience that thrill and energy again!

MS Ventures days!

During those 4 months (August – November), we, literally, worked our asses off for 10+ hrs every day for 7 days a week. It was FUN! I am not kidding. We worked together, laughed together, and ate together. To simply put it, we wanted to accomplish great things no matter what. Apart of immense business knowledge/ethics from entrepreneurs, mentors, aspiring entrepreneurs and fellow interns, I also develop my love for technology in here. Technology opened up my mind to infinite possibilities. It made me believe that we have resources to impact millions and billions of lives. Two very important traits/features that I improved during this period were “how to be happy in all situations and how to share”. I thank Parth! for making it happen. I admire his traveller spirit. Talking about Nikhil, he is totally different from Parth. I learned the importance of focus, and hustle from him. Learning from other MS ventures teams was incredibly helpful and inspiring, too.

Important decision to JOIN TommyJams full-time!

After my gig with TommyJams at MS ventures, I decided to join them full-time. My first two months (Jan-Feb) were focused on business operations. At TommyJams, business operations include maintaining a proper sync between an artist and a venue before an event, work collectively with all the team members, taking full responsibility of on the day event management (micromanagement), and smooth handling of payment procedure after the gig. In nutshell, providing a smooth and enjoyable gig experience to both the artist and the venue.

March-November period – A roller coaster ride! Learned the true meaning of a startup!

Just after MS ventures program, we were selected as top 100 startups around the world by StartupChile program. By mid-January’14, both Parth & Nikhil decided that it was a good opportunity for the company to explore international expansion and kickstart operations in Chile through the StartupChile program. It was a huge opportunity for me, individually, to head TommyJams India. For initial few months (after Parth & Nikhil left for Chile) we only had a team of 4 people (Nikhil, Parth, Nandan and me) who were running TommyJams in India and Chile. It was amusing in the beginning to play (work) in different timezones. I still remember waking up 3 or 4 o’clock in nights fixing bugs and discussing way forward with them. Similar, was the situation for both Parth & Nikhil. Virtual team management is difficult to sustain, therefore, we decided to meet twice a week (Monday and Wednesday/Thursday) on skype. These meetings were sort of mandatory. We exchanged over 30 emails every day continuously for a period of 3-4 months, properly going through every piece of work. I know you must be feeling that it is micromanagement and it is not good BUT it was the right thing to do. I was totally NEW to our business and it was every important that we do the right things, right from beginning. That helped me a lot in developing self-confidence as well. My curiosity took a totally different trajectory during this period. I was responsible for the company’s business here in India, so it was my job to keep our company fresh with new ideas/suggestions/feedback. And boy! that was FUN.

During this time, we also collaborated with Solstice Festival, to organize our first International festival in India on World Music Day (21st of June). By early May’14, we hired Abhijit to kickstart our Mumbai operations (he later played a significant role in sponsorship deals for the festival). Throughout the preparation, we faced huge challenges. We had only 2 weeks to make it and since it was World Music Day, many other venues and organizations like Alliance Francaise were organizing their own festivals/events. We were facing stiff competition to attract good artists and to convert more and more venues for hosting our festival. Daily routine was damn! busy. We were setting up meetings with venues, sponsors and calling artists right, left and center. We were, literally, on a 24-hrs clock every day and at one point it seemed that we would lose it BUT Abhijit nailed Millers sponsorship at the right moment and with most of our calls getting converted towards the end, we were right back on track. After 2 weeks of sweat, frustrations, devotion, rejections, we proudly organized pilot run across 12 venues in Bangalore. Convincing artists/musicians to perform for FREE (to keep world music day spirit alive) was a gruelling task for us. Fortunately, 10 out of 12 artists, who performed with us did it for FREE (closing deals feels so, so good! ). And Seeing 100s of music lovers turning up for our gigs at each venue was a delight to watch. I remember Sharath (a friend of ours, who was also helping us) and I were running from venue to venue on 21st June night, taking gig photographs, counting number of walks-in and making sure everything go according to our plan. Shout out to him as well for making it happen! AND A huge thank you to Construkt Festival team and all our friends, who supported us and contributed during the festival build-up and operations.

Time was running away, rather fastly!

By August second week, I ran out of all my steam. I just couldn’t work. I wrote a separate blog on my August month experience here. But with Parth & Nikhil’s support, I was back on track by the end of August. Things were looking fine again but around mid-September, I started having doubts whether I can continue further with TommyJams. I discussed my situation/options with a couple of friends, other entrepreneurs and my family and after my home visit (Diwali breaks), I knew that my time was up. I developed my fascination and curiosity for startups in mobile space during my time at TommyJams and thus, I started my search for startups where I can find this right opportunity. Vikas, a good friend of mine helped me and I was finally able to find my next chapter!

MOMOE!

I met Momoe’s co-founders in 1st week of November. After spending hours and hours over the next couple of visits, discussing their ideas, team structure, vision, mine and their past experiences (both at college and professional levels), I decided to join Momoe from 1st of December. Just to give you an heads up, we at Momoe have a vision to change the way WE LIVE. We provide you an easy mobile based payment solution to pay when you eat out, shop and commute. So, make sure you download and try out our app.

Final Thoughts

Today is 28th November (and my last official TommyJams gig) and with only two days left, I can’t believe my journey with TommyJams is coming towards an end. It has been such a fruitful and enriching experience both at personal and professional levels. Made a lot of new good friends, whom I can bug day and night. The sad part is, last year around the start of December, I joined TommyJams full-time and this year from December onwards, I would no longer be with TommyJams. BUT the good part is, I can see myself becoming the person I always fantasized. You know, a lot can happen if you throw yourself out in/for something/someone you love!

Also, I would like to appreciate Parth & Nikhil for their immense support and guidance. They played a very crucial part in my development. And I wish you guys my best.

To end, I am very ENTHUSIASTIC about my new chapter. Hope I can write a good story in this chapter, too.

Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂

next-phase

P.S. My inspiration behind this blog post is this song.

P.S.S. I have not tagged Sharath because he is currently unavailable on all social media platforms. Super busy! guy 😛

 

 

 

 

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The “Entrepreneur” World

Last few weeks feels like I am driving a Ferrari, too fast for my liking. And when things move too fast, I always try to pull back the leash and focus. It helps me to come out of my comfort zone but often leads to confusion and dilemma. Well, it is always like this in the world of any “entrepreneur” or anyone working with a startup. Now I understand why many startups fall back and fail. When things don’t go the way you think, you always feel the need to change. That change cause the fall back and ultimately the result is failure. You feel huge weight, not on your shoulders but on top of your head. Anyway, lets focus on what this post is really about. I am sharing few thoughts and hope some of you can relate to them and relax and even pitch in your thoughts which could help be relax, too. Here we start!

1. Don’t promise too much to your customers/clients. It puts you in a lot of pressure. If you are a type who promise many things then be strong and rub off the negativity that comes along when you fail. #strive_for_improvement

2. When you do too many things, you’ll start forgetting even the simplest of the lot. Here, a good team plays a huge role. Try to talk to them as openly and friendly as you can. Thus, first few team members are very important to a startup’s success. Choose wisely and slowly. #failure_sucks

3. Don’t scale too fast. Many of you would argue but its okay. #world_dominance_is_a_drug 

4. Knowing when to talk and when to zip your lip is important. #go_slow_and_steady

5. When your product is not working, it means its not working. Full stop. #accept_the_reality

6. From time and time, try to feel the weight of your employees. The more they are, the more it is. #be_serious

7. Everyone is trying their best. Nobody wants to fail. #don’t_blame

8. Don’t worry about revenues. #do_the_right_things

entrepreneur

P.S. Don’t dwell too much into my thoughts. I am a rookie and these opinions may change 😀

 

Build Career like an Entrepreneur

——————- Scene rolling ———————–

(Mr. A: An entrepreneur and Mr. B: A top-notch investor)

Mr. A: I’m seeking a $50,000 investment with 10% equity in my business

Mr. B (smiling): You are valuing your company $500,000. Tell me about your little adventure.

Mr. A: It’s a digital marketing start-up. We provide customize T-shirts to our customers.

Mr. B: You mentioned “we”, any other partner(s) involved?

Mr. A (confidently): Myself and a friend.

Mr. B: Seems interesting. How much business he owns?

Mr. A : Sorry, but he is “she” here and we both are 50-50 partners.

Mr. B (wickedly): Okay. Walk me through the economics of your business.

Mr. A: Well! It’s been only a month and we’ve made $1,000 net profits on sales till this day. T-shirts cost $15.99-20.99. We have sold 350 T-shi..

Mr. B (interrupting):  Are you kidding? $1,000 and 350 sales are nothing and you are evaluating your company at $500,000. Its pathetic. Tell me, what’s your differentiation; there are so many similar startups in market nowadays?

Mr. A: I agree but it will be huge soon. We are also planning to include referral system. For say: you referred us to your friend. And if your friend buy our product(s), worth of $35, then you cash-in $2, as a mark of appreciation.

Mr. B: Kind of royalty and that too, so early is a very stupid step. You guys simply are bozos. Okay now, tell me how are you planning to cut off other players?

Mr. A: We haven’t thought that through.

Mr. B: Sorry, strategy doesn’t seems to click at this moment. I’m not interested. Good luck.

Boom!! That’s it. It was over. He couldn’t convince Mr. B to gamble money on his startup.

————–Time for some Q&A—————–

Q. Why did it happen? What are the loop-holes in his proposal?

1) Company evaluation (too BIG, too SOON).

2) No “Extreme Differentiation” (space is crowded and chaotic, so one needs to have a “SPIKE” somewhere to stand out).

3) Profits and sales, both are acute (pilot run in an experimental phase; not fully tested and developed).

4) No strategy to curb competition (providing live reviews, ratings, etc. would help)

Q. Learning?
That’s life. You started off well, but due to uncertainties in your plan you go downhill. Career is similar. You could start with flying colors but if you lose hindsight, then you are probable to go downhill, just like Mr. A.

Career ladder is similar to doing a business. You start from the very basic (entrepreneur level). Slowly and strongly, with baby steps, you develop your capabilities, and your muscles to eventually rise up to the top. It all about growth. Doesn’t matter how quick or slow it is. Though, it must be significant enough to get you to the next level, every now and then.

Q. How investment and investor could be related to career?
Investments are our opportunities. Both grant us a path to grow, to take calculated risks and to put our focus to different avenues. Thus, helping building our capabilities, as pointed out earlier.

On the other hand, Investors are the people, who believe in your abilities. They invest in you. Take personal interest to give you a fighting chance to showcase your talent. That’s why it’s very important to have right investors in life. World is too big and challenging to do everything yourself. So start building good personal relationships with the right people, if you haven’t.

Growth

A quick summary

1) Think and analyse plan of action, thoroughly.

2) Invest on passion first and skills second. Passion always supersedes skills.

3) Restrict yourself from doing too many things, too soon. If you are a person who wants to do many things, then divide them into timeframes on priorities, like till age 30 this, till 40 that…and so on.

4) Don’t let disappointments hamper your thinking. Everything has a time. Your time would certainly come. Keep working towards your goal to become a success.

5) Always smile and get your hands dirty.

Like to end with an quote from the movie: Robinhood (2010)

Rise and Rise again until Lambs become Lions

What I really want?

The video [What if Money didn’t matterinspires me to write about the paths and choices we consider out of emotions, family, friends, and of course, due to sheep like mentality. In the following paras I will give you the reason behind all this and then I will move on to the possible solution(s). So lets begin.

Actually, we are not looking and proceeding things the right way. Seeing people around and listening them makes me ponder two things: are they really that ignorant or they just don’t want people to know about their insecurities. Whatever the answer is, one thing is for sure that is: they are afraid. But afraid of what? We have friends, and family to support and obviously we are not living in countries where any second death can take us away. Then what else it could be? I believe the only thing human race is afraid of is: Losing. And that’s logically correct because nobody wants to lose; “Not to lose” is in our DNA. It is good sometimes but proves fatal while setting up goals, career paths and choices because this behavior is the reason behind our insecurities and that’s why we generally don’t take risks. It tends to make us weak from inside. And since we have been a part of this system for years, seriously! we just can’t expect to turn things around overnight. Even if you try, your mind would tell you “you are wrong to change the things the way they are”. But does this mean we can’t? Let me tell you there is nothing humans can’t do. Think for a moment who would had thought we will go to moon one day and see today, our eyes are on Mars. I know things like that sounds good at reading and especially at writing as many of you would argue. But bear with me for some more time. At the end of it, you might be able to change.

Most of us spend most of our time in finding out what we don’t like or what we don’t want to do? Do you think you ever gonna reach to the answer to that particular question. I doubt you would. There are so many things we hate, so many things we like to jump off right away if they fall in our ways. This approach only makes our lives tougher and as a result we all fall in no-man’s land most of the time. We get struck in a trap, a never ending loop. So what should we do. My answer would be: start thinking “what I really want” instead. It’s much easier this way as I guess our options will be narrowed down. It’s easier also because this way we would be choosing things. And choosing things is far more easier and less confusing then to leave things. But, how can we be sure that we are choosing right ways. I believe following might help you recognizing “what I really want”.

1) Write down all your doubts. Literally anything you can ever doubt about.

2) Think what type of person you are and what type you urge to become i.e the qualities you like to develop [at-least 10 on each] and pen them down in two separate columns

3) On the left, write down “what type person you are” in descending order. That is best thing about you at top and so on.

5) Similarly, on the right, write down “what type you urge to become”

6) Now match “what type person you are” with what you believe you might end up, if you continue to remain the person you are now [Be true to yourself].

7) If none of the options matched then it means you really need to think and think hard about what you doing with your life.

8) The above case is very rare, so don’t worry.

9) After you are done with above steps, strike out the unmatched options and write down the remaining on a fresh piece of paper.

9th step is most important. We are confused most of the time because we think too much on things which are not worthful and thus, we lose focus on the important ones. Therefore, while striking out in the 9th step, we actually are acknowledging thoughts which will not be helping us in moving forward and the ones which would for certain.

So moving on to 10th step….

10) Look at the points [ at the bottom of right side column] and analyse them with their match i.e. “what type person you are” on left side column, as these are the ones which need to be enhanced first.

11) Now comes the most interesting and difficult task i.e. find out the profession/path that goes with all or atleast 90% of the choices left. Once you are done finding that follow it every day without any further doubt and I believe you will soon be successful, happy, wealthy and most importantly in peace with your mind.

Some thoughts act like an anchor, so better cut them down at the right time before they drag you to dearth. Follow your dreams no matter how big or small you think they are and master them to earn at best of your ability