This article has been sponsored by Haywards 5000 Hausla Buland Academy.
In early 2015, there was a lot of buzz about how a startup had raised $200,000 within three months of its launch. The startup in question was Orobind – an ‘at-home’ personal fitness tech startup. Behind the glitzy headlines and all the hullabaloo was a story of rejection, a near-death experience and a strong resolve to make the idea work.
Founded by IIT-Roorkee graduates Satya Vyas and Shubhanshu Srivastava in December 2014, the startup was rejected 52 times by investors before getting their first yes. During this period, it came agonisingly close to going bankrupt at least twice. Co-Founder Satya Vyas recalls, “In 2014, when we were trying to raise funds for Orobind, no one was even considering us. It was a really testing phase.”
Looking back on how he managed to stay afloat and keep the team together, Satya says, “I saw every ‘no’ as a challenge. I was determined. But that being said, I also put a lot of rational thinking in place. After every meeting, I would sit in a coffee shop or some place that offered solitude. I would then dissect and analyse what made them say no. I would try and reason if the problem was with the idea, the way it was presented, or the sales pitch. And then, I would try and improvise.”
Once when Orobind was running out of cash, the investor that Satya was banking on said he needed more time to deliberate and decide. Satya immediately lined up one more meeting, which was very critical because if this second investor said no, it would have been all over for Orobind. “So before the second meeting, I just sat in a small tea shop at the corner of the street for 10 minutes. These 10 minutes were the loneliest moments I have ever experienced. When I looked up my mobile to see if I could call someone to calm myself down, I realised it was my own fight and I needed to deal with it myself. So all I did was have a cup of tea and walk into the meeting.” It was this meeting that led to Orobind getting funded.
It took 53 presentations to break the jinx: “My instinct always told me that getting the first yes for funding was critical, and from then on, it would be easier to get more funding,” Satya shares. This turned out to be true. In March 2015, Orobind closed its angel funding round from Harpreet Singh Grover (leading a group of angels) and Zishaan Hayath (leading Powai Lake Ventures), who led a $200,000 investment round.
“We initiated discussions at the end of 2014. Initially, we couldn’t convince them about our idea, but we didn’t let go, and we kept the conversation going until they finally agreed to invest - four months later,” says Satya.
In February 2016, Amazon-backed home services provider Housejoy saw Orobind’s potential and acquired the young company. Talking about his future plans, Satya says, “Post the acquisition, we are working towards how best we can come together to capitalise not just the fitness category, but the entire home-services category. This is a brilliant opportunity for startups like us to work with some of the big names in the industry.”
Reflecting, he says, “As an entrepreneur, the hardest part is not just about dealing with rejection, but how you continue to channelise your efforts until you get the yes.”
Entrepreneurs know that rejection and discouragement from investors, family and friends, are part of the journey. Orobind is not Satya’s first venture and he has lost track of the number of rejections he has dealt with.
“Though I have faced 'no' numerous times, the most ridiculous one was in 2008, when I was running my first venture – dietz – a healthy food delivery startup. Back then, most investors didn’t think an engineer could sell salads. Some even said, ‘Kya yehi karne ke liye IIT gaye thhe? (Did you study at IIT to do just this?) Leave this for hotel management graduates.’” Flash-forward seven years, and suddenly food delivery startups were in favour with investors.
Those who have tried their hands at entrepreneurship, or worked with an entrepreneur, will agree that it is a tumultuous life. Working days and nights straight without a day off, making sacrifices of all sorts, and yet having to face rejection and disappointment. It is during these times that an entrepreneur’s ‘hausla’ plays a big role. When translated into English, the closest equivalent of hausla is probably a strong resolve. Satya believes it is this haulsa that enables entrepreneurs to live through rejections and still have faith in their ideas. In most instances, it is also the differentiating factor between people who make it in and those who don’t.
Sharing his take on what #NaaSeeHaanTak means to him, Satya says, “I don't have ‘na’ or ‘no’ in my vocabulary. I don’t take ‘no’ for an answer, and that is also how I have nurtured my team – to never take ‘no’ for an answer. For me ‘no’ is just how a conversion often begins. If I want something, I will hustle my way to turn that ‘na’ into a ‘haan.’”
Haywards 5000 Hausla Buland Academy
Entrepreneurs always find ways to turn a “no” into a “yes”. It is to enable such entrepreneurs that the Haywards 5000 Hausla Buland Academy (HBA) was launched in 2012. It provides online skills development courses and training through workshops. In the last four years, it has reached out to over 100,000 entrepreneurs.
To take the vision of HBA forward, Haywards 5000 launched yet another initiative titled Hauslay ki Udaan in 2015 on ABP News – India’s first startup reality TV show. Entrepreneurs across 10 cities in India auditioned and competed over three months to win the title and a seed fund of Rs 15 lakh.
This year, the second edition of Hauslay Ki Udaan is getting even more bigger. You could live your dream of becoming an entrepreneur by participating in the show. All you need to do is give a missed call to **5000 or register online.
Watch the video and see how a strong resolve can make your dreams can come true.