Indian Entrepreneur 101 – How not to suck at being one!

A Young Entrepreneur on a Hot Day at Portland State

Right now as I sit in front of my laptop to blog, almost after 2 months, I can hardly construct meaningful sentences of the thoughts that are swirling a million to the buck in my head. And no I don’t god forbid, have Alzheimer’s. It’s just the after effects of my day-night efforts to become an entrepreneur in this country where all engineer’s ultimately become one, due to lack of jobs 🙂

Let me expound.

As I’ve mentioned before my path from engineering to event management, it wasn’t always hard to hate engineering. Least of all the luring image of me sweating and grunting against some groaning machine all covered in grease and lube, made sure I shuddered even during my quarter life crisis, that I never take up an engineering job. However I was to learn the grass is not always greener on the other side as some myopic old man quipped in the past. Judging on the basis of my creative juices that always had wanted a vent to escape and bring forth ideas and execute them since childhood, I went with my gut instinct of setting up my own event management company. And hence in the past  few months, I resigned from my earlier employer’s company and went about  starting up my dream. But now having become one, let me tell you my readers, the deathtrap’s and the ways how not to suck when you want to become a self-accomplished entrepreneur.

Company Name

Firstly, the name of your company. This is a never-ending loop of writing down and crossing out all those witty, fantastic names you think of. Mostly because, the one you like, your partner won’t like. The one he likes, you won’t. And if by any random occurrence of a meteorite landing in your backyard, both of you like it, its guffawed and spat on by that third person you went to opinion for. And hence, this takes an eternity while you satisfy your family and friends, your partners family and friends and finally, if at all that name hasn’t been taken up by some other guy yet, you finalize it.

Stylizing your Company 

Secondly, you set about the rules, styling and vibe of your organization. This again is a rabbit hole in Alice’s wonderland, since you can’t allegedly  be ‘inspired’ from anywhere lest you wanna stand yourself in a court for plagiarizing from similar companies. So you start giving your dream a unique face, feel and vibe. But hey, your partner gets a sudden idea and wants it incorporated too. Then your dad has one. Then your dad’s uncle thrice removed on his mom’s side has a spark. If you so much as dare to oppose them saying it’s your company and your partner, be ready for explicit Malayalam wrath and curse to be showered, sentencing your entire generation to be blind, crippled and suffering from smallpox . In short, it would have been better, you didn’t start the company in the first place, with all the expletives and curses hanging in the air, wafting about reminding of the impending doom for the company. But if at all you satisfy all these people, and decide on the corporate styling you adopt, congratulations. You just finished a quarter of the work required.

Creating your company stationery 

Next we need to design the company logo, website and related brochures, fliers etc. Welcome to the inferno. You just realized you are exhausted from the previous steps and just want to curl up and go to sleep. But it’s not to be so. So you sit down with your designer and give him a brief of what you want. He patiently jots down all of them and says he will have a couple of site samples done within 2 weeks. Since you are in India, you would have three national holidays, couple of hartals and bandhs, Saturdays and Sundays  and finally if the odds come in your favor, in the second month you see those samples. Luckily, it has not even a remote semblance of what you actually asked for. Again you go on a roller coaster idea of having the website have everything you want to be in the right place  and gel with the earlier vibe and style you have adopted for the company. While this is happening, parallelly you have your company logo to be designed. Again you have the entire process repeated as you see logos after logos but nothing special. And one fine day, you suddenly see the logo that you realize would sync with the company outlook. (It’s only sad later when you realize that you have become so tired and bleary with all the logo samples you saw, that you just confirmed the one logo that you had rejected in one of the early samples given to you, albeit in a different color -_-). Finally, when you have all in hand ready, you just finished half of what you set out for.

Official Registration and Office set-up

If you are still up and running by this time, congratulations. You have true skills to be an entrepreneur in this great country and you can take a lot of bullshit. Searching for a cost-effective office space in an accessible place locally, and in a building which doesn’t shout the 19th century, is mission impossible. However, since you have to, at least, do justice to all those time, energy and months that you escaped those living ancestors curse, didn’t get bankrupt yet and those beautiful website and logos that are waiting to be criticized by the world are still there, you have to go on. Day after day you run after brokers who claim to be descendants of Parashuram himself that there is yet a place in Kerala, he hasn’t sold. Multiply this guy with two more others and you have the whole dynasty and clan of parashuram running around and calling you relentlessly on your phone, claiming to have found ‘the one’ place. Finally, hopefully, you do.

The Launch

And finally, you are set to roll. Don’t worry. There are yet no clients and if lucky you have nothing to show your efforts as an actually relevant event management company.(However personally I was lucky on this single aspect as we had events up our sleeves given by our awesome understanding clients and hence could display some photos worthy of our salt). But don’t give up now. You have your entire rep staked on this and now if you back off, you better suicide than listen to those so-called family and friends, which starts with ‘I told you so !’. Just hold on to your beliefs and your pants ( since you must have reduced at least 2 sizes from the sleepless nights) and keep your head high of what you have already accomplished. Trust me when I say this. Only a few people face these insurmountable adversities and become businessmen. I know I’m one now. Hopefully my post helps you become one too.

See you on the other side 😀

Engineering to Events management – The twisted paths of a new generation kid! Part III

This part had to take this long as mine and my friends love travails aren’t the best things to frankly, elaborate on. However I kept a promise and I have to keep it. And unfortunately there is no way to make this sound humorous, I’m afraid. The situations hurt. And I would like to share my vantage on all of it.

It’s a tale of pain, desperation, regret, whining, catharsis and redemption.

Reaching Chennai was frankly a bittersweet experience for all of us.All of us, in one way or another, adjusted . Some much well than others. Me not so well. Getting to use a mobile for the first time in 2006, which was a nokia 1110, was like getting a teleporter to a free world where my mom couldn’t eavesdrop on the other line and my dad couldn’t checklist my language. Initially though it was just a medium of device for my parents to call me up and ask me the day-to-day menu of my horrific mess, the tales of which I had described in more than graphic details to them. Such was the power and vividness of my description, that I remember to this day , my dad and mom and a couple of aunts, retched and threw up in their mouth . 😉

So back to the phone saga. Around November 2006, I came to know a friend of a friend, through purely chance. However since she had a phone, and I was already anxious to start using mine,  we exchanged numbers. Since I was always keeping it fun and genuine, slowly one thing lead to another, and soon we were going out. Let’s name here S. She was a final year M.Sc student, in one of the renowned women’s college in Chennai. S was a very fun, religious, ever smiling and chilled out girl and really brought new meanings to bubbly. For a hard-core romantic like me, she was the exact opposite. But still there used to be an aura around her, some sort of peace and fun and a kind of maturity, that I lacked . In short, it was bliss. I still remember the day that I shared this news with Gregary lying on the national highway interstate truckers parking area, tummy full after our midnight dinner, staring at the stars and just enjoying the moment. The moment I blurted out, his eyes widened and he displayed his 28 teeth, grinning ear to ear.

Greg – “Aliya, ninnaku line aayi alle… Jango Jango !! “ ( So you are hooked! Awesome! )

Even I felt happy to share with him and slowly to others about , the love of my life. But it wasn’t long lived. Talks of marriage had started at S’s place and she said that things wouldn’t be easy. Since I was in 2nd year of engineering and had yet 2 more years of expiry for hell, I couldn’t do much but ask her to take up a job in Chennai and wait. Likewise I hunted and found a job for her , ready for her to join by June . I still remember the last day we saw each other at Chennai central railway station, where she was to depart for a 1 month hiatus with family , before joining for her new job. We held hands, in the heavy rush and frantic atmosphere of the station, and she said everything would be alright. And she would be back soon. As the train pulled out, I couldn’t move from my spot, and I kept waving half walking and half running through the platform till, the train pulled out finally.

Back in hostel, nothing seemed right. I skipped meals(which was not a big deal, as I anyways did , thanks to the hairy minion), and I bunked classes. I badly wanted the month to get over , as the non communication was killing me. She couldn’t talk as her’s was a joint family and there was no means of privacy she had said. It took immense ascetic equivalent patience, to not take the phone and just dial her. The month slowly but gradually got over and June came. However , no call came. For the first time in 1 month, I rang her up. What greeted me was a network message, that the subscriber’s number was not in use. I kept ringing like a mad man every 1 hour, for the next  1 month. She hadn’t joined her new job, and none of her friends had any idea of her whereabouts. I had all but become a shell of my spirited and jovial nature, moody, cranky and snapping rudely at my friends for any reason. Gregary was there by my side and did his best to console me, which sadly was a lost cause.

2 months later, one of my junior’s sister was getting married and many of them left to kerala, to coincidentally my girlfriends hometown. I told 2 of my closest juniors Finaz and Praveen, to somehow get any info possible from her town. They promised they would. I waited for their call as the marriage date approached. They had said, once the function was over in the noon they would leave and investigate. I got a call around 2.30 pm and it was Praveen. This is how the conversation went

Praveen – “ Ivinetta, I’ve something to tell. But first ask Gregary to come and be with you.

Me – “ Tell me what the hell is it!? “

Praveen – “ Please at least go and be with him”

Me- “ Just tell me the f*** what is it!

Praveen – ” I saw S here with her husband. They married 2 months back and Arjun’s( junior) sister, is her friend.

That’s the last thing I remembered as I blacked out . After a while , I remember Gregary and few others slapping me back to this cruel reality which had bitch slapped me. Let me not go into the wretched details and show you a depressing picture of what followed from there on. But rest assured, I collapsed from everything that I once was. Became a loner, started obsessively thinking of suicide and other stereotype shenanigans, but only worse. And like that I remained for the next 2 years .  Later on many of my friends got lost in this void too. Even the so-called anti valentine, my best buddy greg. And that too, to a girl who came behind him, forced her love on him and made him accept her. I was happy for him too . But unfortunately, I don’t know till today for what reason, she dumped him. Likewise my other friends Jayakrishnan, Hari, and a lot more who prefer not to be named.

I wouldn’t say what happened to me was the worst thing in life. I’ve had much more worse things . However , now I just don’t feel nor care anymore. I just want to live a good life and contributing some happiness and lots of kindness to this world. Hopefully.

Today by the grace of god, my ever supporting parents and my rocking always ready to back up friends, I’ve finally entered the world of event management. It was a big jump, after my tryst with engineering and found that though I love the science of it, I wouldn’t probably want to do it day in and day out for a living. However if you ask me if this is what I’m set in, I wouldn’t say yes either. I am a jack of lots of trades. I would like to form a band one day with few of my close friends. I would like to travel the world. I would like to act in a realistic movie. I would like to hopefully one day start my own charity organization to reach out to the needy children in this world. But now I need to get over my quarter life crisis. And everything I do right now, leads to it.

And that was my new generation twisted paths from engineering to event management. Hope you guys were on this with me from the start and could relate to the joys and pains of my wonderful college life. Do let me know your feedbacks in the comments section. Will be waiting to hear from you , all your views and opinions.