The greatest lessons I learnt were disguised in my most trying timesShankar Kaireddy
Since childhood I was wondering 'why' do we all exist. What is the purpose of life's existence? And as I couldn't find satisfactory answer to such a big question, I started trying to find the purpose of my existence. I used to ask myself everyday - What am I supposed to do in life?
While I was studying engineering, I found an internship opportunity at a start-up company Skyfi Labs and thought it could help me find my purpose. It did help me with a way to find it. As I didn't know my purpose, I took the company's purpose as mine. The startup aims to create productive engineers by offering hands-on experince to engineering students across India. I eventually spent 2 crucial years of my early professional career there - travelling around the country, training engineering students and understanding various cultures. It was a continuous, constant journey of learning and improvising. The startup culture demanded a diversity of roles starting from an intern to any. It was very hectic and there were times when I couldn't sleep enough. Finally, to find my own purpose, I realized that I need to spend time on myself.
Later, I started working for Dell as it offered me enough time to spend on myself. I wanted to challenge my limits and not knowing how, I started climbing mountains (trekking). This changed my entire perspective and made me undestand my true potential. I remember, half way through my first trek, I thought I won't be able to finish it. But there was no way going back. That's how nature teaches - you can't stay in your comfort zone. What I initially thought I couldn't, has gradually started becoming very easy. In seven months, I finished all major trekking paths in South India. What it offered me was a different dimension all together to the way I looked at things in the world.
There is a significant change in myself and am able to make sense in understanding the purpose of life. I saw every entrepreneur trying to solve one or the other problem and when looked closely at various businesses - each one of them was offering solutions to problems in their own ways. In other words, they are trying to make lives better. So, to solve many problems in short time (and make lives better), I thought I could encourage more young people to solve our native problems.
Starting a blog called Ideal Entrepreneur, I tried to impart an entrepreneurial mindset among the youth. I thought if I could impart this midset in at least one person, my purpose is served. But I didn't find myself eligible to preach others to take risks. Entrepreneurship is not a job but a life style. One must lead by example to inspire others to take action. Having realized that, I left job at Dell to start a company called Googie - Home Need Genie which was envisioned to be one-stop solution for all house-hold needs in Tier - II cities. Prior to this, I discussed about starting the company with a few friends who live in the same city. Initially, they agreed to be part of it but in no time they expressed to move out of it. Being a solopreneur, I was responsible for every activity of the company. Everyday, targetting a small geographical area, I used to meet at least 15 unique families with a brief presentation on how the company can solve their problems and in five months, managed to get 26 families on board (loyal customers).
On 30th March 2016, I met with a major bike accident that fractured my right arm along with a dislocated shoulder, making me unable to move from my bed for at least four months. The damage was serious and I was lucky to survive that day because of my helmet (of very good quality). Laying on my hospital bed and getting prepared for a major operation, all my thoughts were occupied by a few grocery orders to be delivered the next day. I began thinking that the whole business got disturbed and in a way collapsed which was hurting me much more than the physical injuries I had. I could see all my hard work, time and hopes being thrashed. In that misty-eyed moment, I realized all the mistakes I made and learnt intangible lessons:
1. You can't be everything - You must have a team and I realized the importance of building one
2. You need to have a plan before starting - Unplanned actions might yeild results but they are not reliable
3. Friends are a very bad choice to start a business (unless you share a common mission in life)
I spent the next five months recovering from the scars of the injury (both physical & mental). It was extremely hard to take a decision to leave something I started but managed to convince myself that it happened for the good. It made me better & mature and the next time I start anything, I am wise enough not to commit the same mistakes.
I won't hezitate commiting mistakes. But what's important for me is not to repeat those mistakes.
Currently, I am working for a start-up that offers emerging Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) technology for Transcos and commnunities enabling smart untilization of enery, water and gas.
I hope these lessons will help others avoid similar mistakes.