Nothing beats the inspiration learnt from a True Story. As a 21 years old Student Entrepreneur, this is my advice to every risk-taking teenager.Dibakar Bala
Risk - Something we are always told to avoid by the older generation - Parents, Teachers and our Seniors.
They aren't wrong at all. They have failed in life more than you can ever imagine. And they want to protect you from everything they did wrong.
Today you'll read an extract of my journey.
I leave it to you to decide if you think risk taking is good/bad for you :-
It's not an incident but the people who makes it worse
I lost my father the night when I was preparing for my Terminal Exam in School. Losing your Father is not that rare, many people does. But the worse came when I saw my relatives trying to make money out of the funeral budget.
We were a middle class family with my father as the only earning member. After his death, my mother had me studying in class 7 and my elder sister in her Masters Degree ( English - Calcutta University ).
My mother never wanted me to have negative feelings towards my relatives. So she tried her best to hide everything they did to her. Eventually after the post-funeral rituals were over, she broke down and shared everything.
Risk #1 :- I had two options.
Option One :- Let them take advantage of us in the name of giving moral support of being the 'Elders' of the whole Family Tree. ( Read it as a paid 'Mentorship' program if you're an aspiring Entrepreneur )
Optipn Two :- Although, we don't know what we will eat from tomorrow. We cut-off from this so-called relatives from charging an invisible 40% tax on every transaction done with their help.
We as a family accepted the second option.
Your Family is the Greatest Asset you'll ever Earn
I used to go to an English Medium - CBSE affiliated School. Despite being an English Medium, even today it fails to educate and inspire students towards academics.
What's cherry on the top ? Well, they actually graded me negatively in school assessments because I didn't go to their Private Tuitions.
Well, it is good to let you know that my mother forced me to take up Science + Maths tuition from a Teacher. And after few months he threw me out of the tuition centre because he felt I was wasting time and money and could have learnt more by staying at home. Even today, he is my favourite teacher. Not just because of this act, but his overall lifestyle. Many of our ideologies matches perfectly. He was one of the rarest teacher who stays in a City, teaches in an English Medium school and yet never asks for Tuition fees from his private students who are economically inefficient.
Till date he is my favourite Teacher because a lot of our ideologies matches perfectly.
Eventually I managed to score a 9.6 CGPA despite being poorly graded for the internal assessment marks and left the school for good. I joined a different school for 11th and 12th. And those are the most cherished days of my Life till date.
Being a trained Indian Classical Singer, this was the first time I got the chance to experience recording at a Studio. I performed at one of the best platforms in my City - Science City Auditorium. Academically, for the first time I had an experience to showcase a live Science Project at South City International School. Although we didn't win, winning doesn't always matter.
By now, we were economically stable. But I've always been a ' Money Saver ' person. Once again I denied to join Private Tuitions offered by my School Teachers. But, this time I never saw any negative impact from it. I was a student for 2 years but it felt as if the teachers know me since ages.
I scored 92% in my boards. But, that wasn't enough. Studying at IIT has been a childhood dream for me. I literally used to dream of walking on the roads inside IIT ( Kharagpur ). Thanks to Google Images for creating such clear images in my subconscious mind. Later, today in my Entrepreneurial Life I came across this awesome book called ' Think and Grow Rich ' by Napoleon Hill which talks about a similar way of achieving goals using visualisation. But for me at that time ' everything fell into its correct place '.
But not everything was so easy. It was rough, specially the days of preparation. For 2 continuous years I slept 2 hours per day...from 4 A.M. to 6 A.M.
Except those 2 hours, I was studying for most of the time. The results - Till today, I'm the only student who qualified for IIT Advanced from my School.
And this didn't happen because I was some super talented student. I was not school topper. I always used to come ' Third ' ever since Nursery. Infact after JEE Mains I was heavily depressed because my score was exactly 1 mark more than the previous year's cut-off.
What's the Secret ? My Mother. She is the most beautiful, talented and sacrificing lady I've even met in my life. And trust me, I'm not even 1% biased about the fact that she is my mother. Even if she would've been someone else's mother, I would have said the same. Not just me, whoever meets her will come to the same conclusion.
I don't know how much she's proud of me but I'm really proud of her. I really envy my Grandmother for having such a Talented child.
My mother is the best untrained psychological counsellor I've ever met. She can literally lift up anyone's spirit who's going through depression. I can actually charge you ₹500 per hour for this service believe it or not. She used to motivate me throughout my journey. Infact the only reason I had ever failed in my life was because I didn't had enough access to my mother while dealing with those situations.
Risk #2 :-
As mentioned earlier, I've always been a money - saving person. Before the results of JEE Advance could have come out, my dream College with major in Mathematics declared their list. I got selected and was extremely happy about it. Only to realise that they had a non-refundable policy attached with their admission fees. 20,000 wasn't a joke and so I took the risk of declining the admission offer.
Most of my school friends who had good grades got into that college as I waited patiently for the Advanced results. And eventually I was proved to be correct with my decision. KGP, you saved me ₹ 20,000 and embarrassment for the next 3-4 years.
I'm 99% useless, but that 1% when I'm not.... I'm deadly
Over enthusiasm is injurious to health. Take it from me. I didn't do well in my First Year and once again I was depressed. This was the worst period of my life. I was alone and away from home, frustrated and depressed. And as every other low performing students here at IIT, the bug named ' Entrepreneurship ' bit me at the perfect time.
I started my first venture at the age of 19. It was a B2B firm which used to provide Content and Graphic Designing services to other Startups. It worked well for the first 6 months but we were a group of 6 Co-founders from all across India. I was the only one from IIT KGP. We had One from BITS Pilani, One from BITS Mesra, 2 were from local engineering college located in Mumbai and one 18 years old dropout.
I had a real life experience of the proverb Too many cook spoils the broth.
But, that was fine. Inside my heart I was now a 20 years old who knows how to Startup.
Risk #3 :-
Q. Who wouldn't Startup once again after his/her First Failure ?
ANS :- 'Me'
Yeah, I took the risk of not Starting up once again. Instead, here's what I did :
I started taking Internship of all kind.
Remember the 18 years old dropout from the first Team. Well, he had a viral content startup of his own and I was looking for internship. Match Found - I took the opportunity with open hands as an unpaid intern.
After a month, he got busy with his another venture and asked me to lead his Team from then onwards.
So I was Officially declared as the CEO of an Unofficial Startup ( LOL )
It went well. Like really it went well. We were the new Buzz in India, specifically in Delhi. We managed to pull off 5-7 College Fest Media Partnership and bang! We were trending like anything.
What's more to it ? Our Business Plan was selected as one of the top 10 ideas for E-Preneur competition being organised by ShopClues back in 2016.
Soon, our Founder announced the Launch of one more Startup with me as the Managing Director and he being the Founder and CEO. ( Once again CXO and MD of an Unofficial Startup )
I was okay with the ' Unofficial ' tag as long as it was attracting eyes and generating revenue. And oh man! It worked like a charm. We were an Ecommerce now and people were ordering like anything.
Here's what went wrong.....
My work was to bring in Users, handling the on-site content marketing and giving User Contact and grievance support. But with time I found more and more customers started complaining about our services.
Upon further investigation, I came to know that someway or the other a huge scam was going on behind my back. Once it came to my notice, I asked the Founder to give up on his ' unethical ' networks.
Risk #4 :-
Soon, I found out that he was lying to me. He was still in contact with his unethical network.
I had Two options once again :-
Option One :- Who cares about ethics as long as something is growing and generating revenue ? After all, I had put in my 1.5 years of hardwork for it's growth. It was my company as much as it was his.
Option Two :- Ethics matters so I leave the Startups which had my 1.5 years of hardwork and go back to Ground Zero.
I took the second option. And guess what ? Once again I started looking for internship.
I did work with a lot of Startups and Ventures in my life. Approximately 7-10 startups or maybe even more. Go find me on Facebook and LinkedIn if you want the original list. Endorsement on YourStory Community doesn't look good.
December 2016, I went for an Inter College Talent Hunt Reality Show organized by one of India's most popular youth TV Channel. My talent was praised by none other than Benny Dayal.
I didn't win...but I was a changed individual. I started feeling...maybe I should become a Singer and not an Entrepreneur ?
Open YouTube... Record and Upload..... Heck Yeah !
And I got 50 views for my first video. 20 for my second. 100 for my third. 10 for my fourth and 20 for my fifth video.
What's wrong about me ? I'm not a bad singer...even Benny Dayal had acknowledge it. His exact quote was " what you did on stage was extraordinary. I would have never dared to do this myself during a selection ".
So, I was good! No doubts. Then why am I getting 50 views on an average ? I started to read...read like anything. I read about Product Launch, Influencer Marketing, SMM, FB Ads, and much more. I already knew SEO, Pursuasive Marketing and Copywriting.
Meanwhile one of my school friend uploaded a video on YouTube. I was so impressed with his music that I made out a 60 seconds clip from that video. And uploaded it on my Instagram channel which back then had only 83 followers. My friend was so happy! He was happy to see that someone had acknowledged his hardwork.
It felt good. To make others feel good. So, I took to uploading and promoting other's videos on my Instagram for free. But as i spoke to more and more Musicians eventually i realised that the problem of scaling up the career as a Musician is global.
I spoke to some of the most successful international Musicpreneurs to formulate the solution of this problem. And thus the Brand ' Dibakar Bala ' was born. Because the Instagram Channel I started working on was a personal account....I was not able to change my Brand Name as more and more people started connecting my name with terms like ' Music Mentor ', ' Career Advisor ' or ' Music Marketing Expert'.
Now, as you read this article.... I have more than 700 subscribers reading my articles on my website. Well, it is just a humble beginning as being a student I've already declined 2 Investment offers.
Now, I plan to become a Professor at IIM Calcutta ( it is 10 mins Away from my Home location ) and hopefully my whole experience and risk taking mentality will help me reach my destination even in future.
Take RISK when it feels ethical. If you're Honest towards yourself... you'll succeed eventually.