Ajit Babu: My father asked me to get a job in the railways or postal department under handicap quota. I said no
Ajit Babu, who has cerebral palsy, said no to his father’s advice about taking a job under the handicap quota, and instead founded three startups in Bengaluru.
This is his story.
A little history
Roughly 26 years ago, in the month of July, a baby boy was born. It was not yet time for him to come, but he was in a hurry to see the world. The preterm child, who weighed 1.4 kilograms at birth, was kept in the incubator for over two months.
Soon the doctors realized he had cerebral palsy, as he did not grow as much as the other children his age.
Today, Ajit is just about five feet tall, and walks with a slight limp, but he studied in one of the better schools in the city, with constant help from the Spastics Society of Karnataka. He grew up to love journalism, psychology and English Literature, which is why he opted for those subjects when he joined Kristu Jayanti College.
Unable to cope with lab work, which was part of psychology class, he dropped out of college in 2008. But none of this stopped him from doing the things he loved.
His two startups in the media space
“My love for journalism and media egged me into beginning my first startup. I could write, I could speak, and the whole of South India was doing in-film advertisements, so I thought I should try my hand at it,” said Ajit.
He, along with his best friend, Harish Narayan, started Dream Click Concepts in 2009. They also simultaneously founded another startup, Street Light Media, which made TV shows, music videos and advertisements for clients.
“We are very passionate about the two media companies we [Harish and Ajit] have built. We are both huge movie buffs and love shooting photos and videos,” he added.
After three years, Ajit decided to do something in the entrepreneurship space.
“In 2012, I started doing consulting on branding, and began teaching people how to run startups. I gave motivational speeches. I was even making some money. Then, the idea for LifeHack Innovation struck me,” he added.
When the Nepal earthquake happened early this year, Ajit realized how difficult it was going to be for the country to rebuild itself from scratch. He bought some solar lamps and decided to send them over to Nepal. Meanwhile…
“I was sitting outside in my favourite café, where all the smokers sat. There are no power points there for charging. Everybody borrows each other’s power banks to charge their phones. I looked down at the solar lamp in my hand, and it looked like a power bank. So I thought, why not make a solar-powered power bank?” says Ajit.
Birth of the startup
Over the next six months, he remained confident about the idea, but he needed the money to build the first prototype and run the company – seven lakhs’ worth.
“I thought money would be a problem, but no. All I had to do was post on Facebook and offers for help poured in. I just said that I was building a renewable energy company, and random Facebook friends asked for my number, talked to me, and gave me cash,” said Ajit, who crowdfunded the money from around 15 to 20 friends.
He quickly gathered a five-member team of techies and legal associates, and founded LifeHack Innovations in July this year.
What does LifeHack Innovation do?
He also realized that sustainable energy was going to boom, and that the biggest challenge was to bring these sustainable and renewable energy products into everyday life.
LifeHack’s first product is the solar and wind-powered portable power bank, which also can be charged with electricity. The product will be available for purchase by October 2015.
The startup, which is incubated at the VelTech Technology and Businesss Incubator, Chennai, will be working on over 45 products (and patents) over the next three years.
He took a third leap, is he a serial entrepreneur?
Yes, he is a serial entrepreneur, but with strong opinions on entrepreneurship.
“Starting up is overrated, and calling me a serial entrepreneur is too much. Startup founders try to incorporate all their knowledge into one startup, and sometimes it doesn’t work. So they think the next one can be better, and start another. This goes on till they figure out their true calling,” said Ajit
What about the future?
“I will study more. I will finish journalism. I will even do a Master’s, maybe from Columbia too! After all, this field is the only one where you can make money out of the freedom of expression!” said Ajit.
When asked about his fundas in life, he says in a serious note,
When you have a choice between do or die, it’s easy to choose die. But when you wake up in the morning and you only have the option to ‘do’!