I still remember when i was in primary school I used to put those half ‘chaddies’ with nice little cross chex shirt on it with a belt at waist to hold it over there :D. We all grew up with the same. School used to start with the rainy season wiping the slate clean for the fresh start. Almost every kid in the school had some or the other ambition, ambition to be a pilot, a scientist, a doctor etc. We all were struggling through those days to someday reach to those ambitions. Each one of us wanted to make those ambitions a reality.
Just like every other kid in the school, I also had an ambition, though I took little time figure it out. I wanted to start my own business some day. I didn’t know anything about business at that time but the thought of having leeway to do what I wish to do was the main reason behind it. We all then moved to the secondary school with the same ambitions, our views towards things started becoming more clear and concrete.
As days passed, we all got stuck in the daily regime. After we got done with 10th we had to select stream for 12th, which everyone took science and along with that I took electronics as bifocal subject. The thought behind selecting electronics was that if I like it I will be able to pursue it in my graduation. After 2 years I discovered, I didn’t like electronics at all!
Now we had to select the graduation stream, the subject with which we have to live for next 4 years. Before making the decision I looked back at past and realised machines was my first love. I would like to get my hands on them and hopefully will start something in the same field. I was finally in mechanical engineering. From the day one I was trying to make sense of the marks oriented education system. Trust me, till today I haven’t got any sense out of it.
Fortunately my college had entrepreneurship development cell which was a great platform for budding entrepreneurs. I heard this word entrepreneur for the first time when I joined the cell. Through EDC I got chance to represent college at Various national and international conferences across country and it helped me develop a maturity needed to start something at young age. More importantly, I made some very good friends there who are today my loved ones.
When I was in my final year, Me and 2 of my friends started a venture in civil material suppliers. (It was Aditya’s idea to start this). We worked on market research and ground work for two months and realised we needed capital and full time dedication for this. It wasn’t possible as only one of us was graduate (Aditya) and me and Quinston (my friend) were still in college. So we closed it down. Later when college was going on, me and Quinston started on this another idea of hyperlocal social media platform. This time, one of our friend Sidharth was on board. We worked on this idea for few months, got the copyrights and put it on Google Play store. We had around 300 active monthly users. But here we failed to find ways to monetise it and had to stop further development on the platform.
Later in January 2016, Aditya (one out of the original 3) came up with an idea to work on the virtual reality technology. Aditya has a very good foresight when it comes to the new tech. Me and Quinston were still not convinced to dive in but he somehow made us jump in. (In my opinion he’s a very good leader, I hope he’s happy to read this :D) Initial work on VR was started on Google cardboard platform. We pulled few ready made models from Google, coded the functionality and clubbed it in an application on phone. Our first clients for this were our contacts. We met few of them and got a quick feedback on it. They were happy to see some cool piece of tech but didn’t buy. They told us to get our shit together, quite literally.
Now Samsung had launched a consumer version of VR headsets. It was for 8k and the supporting device for that was Samsung S6 which was another 33k. We needed this cash to play with these new devices to make products. Now we didn’t wanna take cash from our parents (And I think they wouldn’t have given it to us anyway :D) so we decided, we’ll raise it ourselves. In the month of February 2016 we held an android app development workshop in our college, taught app development to students. ( who were mostly our juniors because our classmates didn’t care what we were doing :D) In two days we raised 60k. Thanks to Quinston’s programming skills and my crazy ideas to market it and we hustled to make it happen. We worked even on the valentine’s day :D.
Now we had bought these devices (which were expensive obviously) which came with performance pressure. 😀 We started our work on these and developed a raw prototype. We went to someone who was in real estate and asked him for an order. He got impressed with our hustle and offered us a partnership deal. Now we were in big dilemma of working this out.
Amidst of all this, I had gotten accepted in a business school at San Francisco for Masters in international business. I was gonna leave in August 2016, three months had left and I really wanted Quinston and Aditya to take this ahead after I leave. Aditya had left his job and was working full time. Quinston was placed in an IT company with monthly salary of 50k +.
I wanted this deal to happen so that it gives us some kinda of leverage to stay in the business and do more. Unfortunately deal didn’t happen. We couldn’t find any middle ground on finances. I was heartbroken because of that.
Now me and Quinston had our final year exams. So we decided that we’ll finish off our final year exams and we’ll give our 100% in the two months of runway left before I leave for USA and Quinston joins his job in August. (Aditya was insanely brave to be the one without absolute no back up option).
Exams went well. We started off on the same day our exams ended. We shifted to Aditya’s house (His bungalow had an empty top floor, which then became our incubator). (Our brochure Includes a tagline, “we don’t have a garage but we have an upper floor” :D). We worked our asses off for 24 days in a row to develop an industry grade prototype for real estate sector.
The very next day we started meeting clients. We were using our contacts in the initial period. We were in B to B sector, it was taking lot of time for negotiations and closing the deal. Amidst of all this, I got my Visa rejected first time. I decided to reapply for the visa.We had no orders and Quinston’s joining date was coming close.
I thought a lot about my priorities in life and my ambitions. Me leaving the country would have a very significant impact on the venture, it might fail and I would hate myself that I didn’t give it a shot, so decided to stay. Thanks to my parents who supported me on this. I went to my visa interview and said I would like to stay, I don’t want your visa. I had taken a big risk. Now I needed to give literally everything to this venture to make this happen.
We still didn’t have an order, Quinston had joined the company. We had decided Quinston will quit his job once we get one order confirmation. A week later when Quinston joined we had no orders, our R and D on the products side was almost nothing. 7 days after joining, Quinston took a brave decision to quit his job.
Now all of us were in it together, finally and fully.
After hustling for a week more, finally we had our first order confirmation. We had done it, we were in business. (thanks to Aditya’s negotiation skills, we closed this order to its maximum). Those seven days were the toughest days of our lives.
Just before that, we got our company registered with name, Quark Experiences Pvt. Ltd. Two days later we had our first cheque in our hand and we were fucking happy.
10 days post that date, we had our second order confirmation. Wheel started rolling.
In this journey which still continues today with more and more challenges, I learnt that nothing is easy. Today entrepreneurship word is quite glorified but the hustle is still undervalued. People will always try to snatch you when you’re vulnerable but those are the real times. It teaches you the patience, it helps you find the real ones around you.
When I was in college we had exams after every 2 months. Today, everyday is an exam but we aren’t afraid to face it, because we are doing what we love the most, we are living the dream which we always saw, we are bending each and every damn problem which is holding us back from making it happen. Trust me, It feels surreal.
I would like to quote one of Mr. Steve Jobs quote here,
“Have a courage to follow your heart, it somehow already knows where you belong”.