Dream of starting your own business? Here’s some inspiration for you
From educational startups to ones that dish out digital marketing strategies to cake studios, these student entrepreneurs lead the way.
At 21, Yash Sharma was studying for his Economics Honours exams and at the same time he was examining contracts and documents for his startup. He knew he didn’t want to answer to a boss. “Why would I invest my knowledge, time and service in another company when I can handle it myself?” Sharma thought. He founded Quick Forex, a startup that helps people buy foreign currency virtually so they can travel abroad, for employment, tourism or to study.
While most college students think of joining a corporate organisation or plan advanced courses after graduation, a growing number are getting started as entrepreneurs. They’re picking risk over the security of a salary, making their own mistakes, and starting innovative enterprises from the bottom up. Take a look at what the move has taught them.
‘TRUST YOURSELF WHEN THE WORLD IS AGAINST YOU’
Adurrab Khan, 24
Notemybook, founded in 2014, is an educational startup that incorporates practical ways of learning like industrial visits, internships and industrial training.
From leaving my home and sleeping in the Gurudwara to asking my best friend to leave my company, I have made many sacrifices as an owner of a startup. It did affect my college life. In my third year, I had to visit Goa for work related to my startup for which I did not take permission from the college. It got my principal angry and he asked me to shut down the company. I had to fight my college to keep my business. I lost my friends and got my father worried. But in the end it was worth it.
I knew what I was doing was right. Within a month, I was earning more than an average engineer and had more than 600 users registered on my website. I was sure that this company was worth investing my time and money. If you’re a budding entrepreneur, you should believe in yourself and your idea when others don’t.
‘WITH POWER COMES RESPONSIBILITY’
Yash Sharma, 21
Quick Forex, founded in 2015, is a startup that helps people buy foreign currency virtually.
When you’re the one holding all the power, you have to face what comes along with it. Being responsible, disciplined and having patience are the keys. You can’t think of taking a break when there are matters to be sorted; you can’t chill when there’s a meeting to attend; and you can’t skip a discussion if you’re tired or sleepy. You lose your personal time because you’re using it to build your business. I work minimum 12 hours a day and there are times it goes up to 17 hours too. There are late nights because our clients are in different time zones.
But if I skip work how will my company grow? I need to set an example for my team of 35. Most of the time, my family and friends misinterpret me as antisocial. I skip family functions or birthdays during the week. I was at t he office late at night even on my birthday. But I make up for it all on the weekend.
‘AGE IS JUST A NUMBER’
Chirag Dodiya, 22
Plorez, founded in 2012, is a startup that offers technological solutions to organisations and is a platform for young start-ups.
I started my company at 16, my first year in college. While my friends were busy watching movies, I was meeting new tech professionals every day. That opened doors for me in a way that my classmates didn’t realise. Once my startup was established, I would go on seminars and confer- ences to deliver speeches.
I feel the earlier you start exploring, the better you understand the market. The most important skill young entrepreneurs need is patience. It will probably take months before you make your first rupee, years before you can draw your first salary, and decades to build your company culture. It took me six months to get a monetary return from my project.
You will make mistakes. I was working on a project that a friend from London wanted to establish in India. In my bid to work faster, I hired too many employees for the project, some being less qualified. We messed up and failed. It taught me to be calm while making decisions.
Starting at such a young age has definitely paid off. Today, at 22 I have founded six other ventures: two NGOs, two educational startups and two tech companies.
‘UNDER COMMIT AND OVER DELIVER’
Amit Damani, 26
Pixel Fox Studios, founded in 2013, crafts digital and marketing campaigns for brands, startups and corporates.
I took up many freelancing projects in graphic design as a college student. And before graduation, a friend, Krutika Vernekar, and I already had a team of eight working in an apartment which we call ‘The Den’.
The biggest challenge is to get people to trust you. As a startup, we have very few chances to prove ourselves. There is tough competition, the client can always hire some other company for their project.
Always try doing something new and innovative. That’s how people will remember you. One thing that has always worked positively for me and my company is this principle: ‘Under commit and over deliver.’
‘CHOOSE YOUR TEAM WISELY’
Satwik Mishra, 26
Mechjunction Eduservices, (2012-15) was an online portal that offered educational resources like e-books, video tutorials, training programmes and software to mechanical engineers.
I started Mechjunction because I found that engineering students needed access to good resources. However, in less than six months of the startup, I struggled to build and maintain a good team. I had business partners, but not all of them showed the same level of motivation or dedication. My interest shifted to the development sector and my partners were also interested in switching to other verticals.
One thing I learned from the failure of my startup is that always choose the correct team members from the start.
Sravani Siram, 25
Cake Pop Rush, founded in 2013, customises desserts.
I always loved experimenting with recipes and trying to create unique desserts and decided to turn it into an entrepreneurial opportunity while still in college. It was the best decision of my life.
I started small. I first popularised my company in my college by participating in festivals and setting up cupcake stalls. The response was good. Then I popularised my brand on the Facebook page and received more and more orders. Eventually, I set up my own cake studio. It has been a journey full of lessons. I’ve realised that you do not always have to plan for the distant future. You can make your dreams come true in the present. If you have an idea, go ahead with it, do not overthink whether it will work or not.
One step will automatically lead to another.
Also, you will come across people who may not like your work or idea and may try to demotivate you. But then, I think that there are a hundred others who love it and so why not concentrate on them?