One of the main reasons I started my venture, was to be rich and famous. Sure it didn’t get there and sure it died in 2008-09 – for a pretty good reason – but it’s still something I’m proud of. Not in a vain “pride for the sake of it” – but for the reason that I started with clear vision, but zero capital, hired a bunch of people – and even today many of my past clients come back to me asking for technology assistance, because they saw quality, focus and plain old satisfaction in using the services I offered.
I’m going to rant on a bit about how this worked for me, which will likely give most employee-types some form of insight into how ‘entrepreneurial’ entrepreneurship can be and how stupid I must have been to ignore interview invites from the likes of some famous tech companies.
During my GNIIT course, I admit I scored the highest in all forms of practical, proven technological expertise. I will also gladly admit that my written scores were less than spectacular, but overall the percentages add up – I had a decent 90 under my belt at the time I finished the course. So of course the next business of the day was job hunting, for which I had only three rules:
- I will not travel
- I will not take anything less than Rs X
- I don’t want XYZ, ABC, etc companies – so I will skip them
Simple right? Well given I stay in a residential neighborhood with minimal businesses around it was probably a stupid thing (in retrospect) to do. But that is no bar for a technologist who writes programs in advanced ASM (386 Assembler) in his 10th grade, and creates a usable beginner-operating system in his second year of college. Plus the XYZ companies I refused, today are some of the more appealing ones for most techies.
In October 2005, fresh out of BSc Physics, with zero real-world experience and only one computer – no cash – to begin with, “Wherrelz IT Solutions” was born. And we did OK, modest income for a startup, and when it grew, it grew real well. Hired some kids from GNIIT (yes, my old institute!) and had a great time. I could work from home, was free to come and go as I please, no “boss” or whatever to speak of – except sometimes the late night meetings with some of the US customers were a bit tiresome. But overall it was an experience I would love to have again – next time with a fresh idea, and maybe start with some friends so I don’t need to do the late nights all alone….
Then near the end of 2008, some of my clients came back to me – “We’re having a hard time here with the bad financial situation, and lot of our $ is tied up in [land, houses, etc – different for each]”. And we were like “Oh crap”. Though we didn’t stop, from end 2008 to end 2009, we worked on and finished all the projects we had with us. All my employees were given good farewells, although it was not feasible to offer them an exit package (which I still do feel bad about).
So, a startup is not for everyone. Even if it IS for you – chances are the economy may not be in your favour – plain and simple! There are many, many variables and even if you ARE a one-man-army, don’t push it. Share the success, else share the failure – all the greats we know today have shown us that.
Not having the foresight at the time to bring in someone with greater fund raising experience, and not knowing the benefits of saving for the company I lost out big time.
NEXT time, I WILL NAIL IT. And I’ll be sure my partners score real well with me too.
But for now, I will continue along my goal, my current target is ambitious as always – CIO, Fortune 500, by the year 2020.