Traveling has the power to change us and the last trip I took to the mountains, changed me immensely, both as a person and as an aspiring professional. On a trip that I took to Dharamashala in Himachal Pradesh two years ago, I chance met the Jabong co-founder. Walking up to us, wearing a plain grey polo t-shirt and black track pants, Praveen Sinha, the Jabong CEO was way too simple, and seemed a far cry from the image of the founder of India’s most successful fashion e-retailer. When he introduced himself as Praveen Sinha, we didn’t think much; the name is common in India.
It was only on the course of our journey that he divulged small details that made us suspicious about his identity. Being management students, my friend and I were well-versed with India’s renowned businesses tycoons. When we prodded a little more, Praveen Sinha revealed that yes, he does own a startup! Such a modest way to accept professional success.
When in Himachal, he was no different than any of us. He had no airs about him, and behaved just like any of us would. He turned out to be an avid traveler who likes visiting places with spiritual leanings every now and then for soul-cleansing experiences. We were excited to have Praveen Sinha, the Jabong boss, as our co-traveler. Think about the number of business trips he would share with us, exclusively! This is a brief account of the travel experience we had with our very co-traveller, Praveen Sinha.
We started our journey by visiting spiritual places in the beginning. We planned to give the sanyasis a visit to learn a thing or two, as suggested by Praveen Sinha. We all volunteered and continued. Not many know that the sheer business mind of Praveen Sinha who has been part of many ventures other than Jabong, like Gojavas , Wassup and Zimmber has also a very active seeker and curious about space and spirituality. He likes to be in company of Sanyasis and that spend time with them to get some spiritual input on life.
Imagining about his jet-setting life, I also got a little hesitant asking him to sit along with me on the floor. But surprisingly, he was the one who initiated the move while I followed up. He is nothing like his image in the corporate world.
As we were discussing the sacred lives of the sanyasis, Praveen Sinha volunteered to take a few pictures with them as a memorabilia of his trip while I sat stunned by his simplicity.
We were about to begin the second day of our tour and out came Praveen Sinha, all set for another spiritual adventure – tour of the temples. Staying in Dharamshala, we planned our next two days of itinerary in the Kangra Valley. For most of the time that we spent traveling from our hotel to Kangra Valley, the Jabong head gladly took over as our guide. To us, it was a perfect trekking and camping place while there was more to it.
Praveen Sinha began telling us about the spiritual significance that the place holds and how it was, in the ancient times of the Mahabharata, known as Nagarkota. Puzzled about how he knew so much, I couldn’t resist asking how he knew so much. He then disclosed that random spiritual trips are his favorite, where he spends time with Sanyasis or people with very different perspective on life , away from the corporate jungle and boardroom discussions.
On reaching there, the Jabong CEO was the first to get down and get going on his exploration of the Jwala Devi temple, which is popular for many interesting stories from the ancient times.
Along the way, in the surrounding areas were more temples that we were interested in. Praveen Sinha went ahead to explore them too, while we took a moment to catch up on our breath.
Once Praveen Sinha was back, we got chatting about his life and beliefs. From his conversation, it was clear that he is a stickler to simple ways of life. We urged Praveen Sinha to tell us about his corporate adventures, but he chose to narrate his love for spiritual tours instead, when he keeps himself off from the corporate life, regardless of how much he loves his work.
Unlike other corporate honchos, who travel in their private jet and live in luxurious hotels, he chose to lose himself in the wilderness. I remember his words vividly: “I prefer to spend time in secluded cottage on the hillside and experience an astute life. This is who I am – a regular guy who believes in working hard all along, party in between and spend time in building foundation for spiritual evolution.”
This popular entrepreneur sure did surprise us with his take on life. In ways more than one, Praveen Sinha also inspired us to un-complicate life. Despite belonging to the fashion industry, he is still a person who loves to dress up simply.
At the end of the eventful trip, we took pictures and wished Praveen Sinha a final goodbye. Our encounter with one of the hotshots of the ecommerce industry was the warmest. His simplicity towards life and its little joys astounded us the most, making us believe that the goal is to not look rich but be rich, especially on the inside where your heart is.