Positivity keeps you driving every moment in life despite of innumerable professional and personal hiccups. Earlier, this week I met Bal Krishna Birla, who recently left ZopNow – an online grocery store founded by Birla and Mukesh Singh. Prior to Zopnow, Birla had professional stints at IT major Infosys, then he moved to Amazon and finally Asklaila where he was bitten by entrepreneurial bug. Besides commercial ventures he has been backing non profit organizations like Bhoole Bisre Geet and a few movements against suicides committed by IIT students.
While building the technology team at Asklaila, BK Birla decided to do startup and later on started a restaurant Potluck in South Bangalore. Though, Birla had to desert the restaurant business as Zopnow happened in the middle, “I wanted to focus on one startup rather than having two, hence I pulled the plug on it,” says Birla. Currently Birla has two priorities – to scale Bhoole Bisre Geet, aka BBG, a non-profit organization which has over 1 lakh music fans glued to it across the world in over 25 countries. BBG aspires to spread happiness through music and Birla says that its a fierce nonprofit organization as it doesn’t charge or pay a single penny for offline shows.
The other priority for Birla is to write a book, which primarily would be a collection of 12-18 stories around people who attempted suicide but later on turnaround and made big in business, different verticals and life.
How BBG started?
BBG evolved from a personal inclination towards music, especially the old and forgotten Hindi songs, says Birla. “Everyone has some childhood or early memories with music, I kept listening and sharing my playlist (old Hindi song) with my friends on social media networks. Soon I realized that lots of folks are actually connecting their memories via my playlist,” adds Birla. After a year time BBG started conducting offline shows and gradually it became community that spreads happiness through music. Importantly, BBG doesn’t pay artists and performers for their representation in the shows.
Birla has also been working on making a music album called Kaash with Shammas. The album will have poems and songs written by him. The overall theme of the album will be a little bit melancholy songs set in the music of 40s and 50s. Out of curiosity I asked him how he manages time to do many things at one time? Birla flatly answers “You are bound to allocate time for things which you want to do and I do the things which I want. After Zonow I have enough leisure time on platter to focus on different things.”
On decision to write a book
During my own IIT days I have seen at least four suicides committed by students, says BK Birla. The primary reasons for such suicides were academic pressure and emotional outburst. “IIT is undoubtedly a hard nut to crack and only sharp minds reach there, however families don’t understand the competition level in IITs and hope their children to top or score maximum grades,” adds Birla. The suicide rate is increasing in IITs as well as other institution because of escalating peer pressure, lack of family support and gender gap. This always hurt me when I think of a young guy or a girl commits suicide. The situation prompted me to write a book around people who attempted suicides and later on became successful in their pursuit. My effort would be successful if anyone defers suicide after reading my book,” says Birla.
“I love starting up time and again as I feel like doing it,” says Birla. However, he finds difficulties in hiring people and building team. He urges young entrepreneurs to do inward research before doing market research for their idea, “I see this trait rare in young people they focus much on external research (appearance, too, he chuckles) but miss the internal one, adds Birla.
He also reveals that his new venture, which is at least 7-8 months away from now, would be focused on international market and again it will be in consumer Internet space. Birla cautions budding entrepreneurs to align themselves to what they are capable to do. Raising funds is not the milestone, don’t waste too much time chasing angel or VCs’ money; focus on making your product or service super awesome everything else will follow you, signs off Birla.