The team.

The team. (from left Aditya, I and Quinston) in January 2014.

It was 2:30 AM in the morning on January 31 2015, we were having tea at some hotel at Pune station. The reason to be together was Aditya’s birthday and reason to be awake was a brainstorming on an idea which we thought could potentially change the world.

It is so amazing that every entrepreneur in reality is a dreamer and more importantly believer in his or her dreams. I believe everything happens twice, once in our dreams and then in reality. The synergy of brain and hard work transforms our dreams into reality.

After 4 hours of brainstorming, our much needed sleep drove us home. The next day I called up Aditya and told him that I would like to be part of this and make this happen. Idea was to set up a marketplace for civil materials. It was gonna be an eCommerce game and we needed string tech support, by strong tech we meant a WEBSITE 😀

When our coder bouy, Quinston came on board we realized that eCommerce is more than just a website and order fulfillment.

I and Quinston were in 6th semester of engineering and Aditya in his final semester, we decided we will formulate a plan to take this ahead and 4 months down the line actually start this. 4 months later all we had is a skeleton for the website, we had not done any ground work. Right after our exams I and Aditya started going to meet different material suppliers and we realized this was not so easy!

After juggling through problems like money, time (as I and Quinston had to resume college) and mentoring, after 3 months we had to shut it down, we called it houzart. We failed to bring art of building houses to people but we surely learnt the art of starting up a venture.

The next push came from Quinston’s mind. He had this idea of creating a hyper local social platform to connect you to your neighborhoods in better way. The idea was to sting what you wish to share and that’s how Stingbox took shape. I, at the age of 21 made my first investment in buying a domain and hosting for Stingbox, more importantly I had invested in my best friend. I can’t tell you how incredulous that experience is, today Stingbox has more than 300 registered users and is on play store for android.

After all these try outs we needed our presence in something more firm and product oriented stuff. With Aditya’s avid reading and brainstorming efforts we ventured into virtual reality. The goal is to create a virtual experience which is as lively as the real one. Currently we are striving to get the prototype to the market and we don’t have an inch of doubt that this will work.

In all these endeavors I realized that though one person has a great influence to drive teams and make successful companies, needs a team to start off. That team might not have a significant skillset towards what you wish to achieve but that team is surely responsible to bolster you, adopt to your thinking and strive hard to make it happen. In all these endeavors, there were times when we had to face a lot of difference of opinions on how to proceed. When I think of it now, I feel great satisfaction and happiness to have both of these guys to make this experience a truly valuable and unforgettable.

When we were in the process of forming houzart, we had a group on whatsapp named project mortar 😀

Today, endeavors are making a rapid move with broad and practical thinking but we haven’t stopped with project mortar chats. And story continues 🙂

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फर्ग्युसन – मागे वळून बघताना.

दहावीची परीक्षा संपून चार महिने झाले होते. मामाच्या गावाला जाऊन कैर्या पडणे, विहिरीवर पोहायला जाणे, सायकल, बैलगाडी, ट्रॅक्टर अश्या सगळ्या राईड पूर्ण झाल्या होत्या. सुट्टी संपल्यावर शेवटी पुण्याला येउन जुनिअर् कॉलेज चे फाॅम्स् वगरे भरून झाले होते.

आणि अखेर तो दिवस उजाडला, बायफोकल ची अडमिशन कन्फम करण्यासाठी मी आणी पप्पा फर्ग्युसन ला जाण्यासाठी निघालो आणि वरुणराजा बरसला. असा बरसला कि वेळ पाळण्यासाठी अखेर भिजत जावे लागले. दहावीच्या सत्कार समारंभात बक्षीस मिळालेला फोल्डर, ज्यात सगळे सर्टिफिकेटस् होते तो कसाबसा पाण्यापासून वाचवून मी मात्र ओला झालो होतो. त्या अवस्थेत फर्ग्युसन चे पहिले दर्शन झाले.गेट पासून पहिले प्रस्थान म्हणजे अॅम्फि थिएटर. बायफोकल ची अडमिशन नक्की करण्यासाठी स्टेज वर पोहचे पर्यंत आता मात्र हेच काॅलेज हवं हे मी पक्कं केलं होतं. फायनली शेवटून दुसरी जागा मिळाली आणि माझा जीव भांड्यात पडला.

महिन्याभराणि म्हणजेच २८ ऑगस्ट २०१० ला पहिला दिवस होतां. अॅकॅडमिक कॉम्पलेकस मध्ये गेल्यावर, एक दोन ओळखीचे चेहरे दिसले तेव्हा हायसं वाटल. मी आणि शाळेतले दोन मित्रं आपले कोपर्यात गप्पा मारत थांबलो होतो. न्यू इंग्लिश स्कूल ला फक्त मुलांच्या शाळेत असल्याने, इथे एवढ्या मुली पाहून जरा अवघड वाटत होतं. मुलांच्या मध्ये शिव्या देतानाची हिम्मत हि मुलींकडे बघायलाहि कमी पडत होती. अखेर लेक्त्चरची बेल वाजली आणि जीवात जीव आला.

इलेक्ट्रोनिक्स च्या लेक्त्चरला सरांनी जेव्हा विचारलं, कि कायं रे वैशालीमध्ये गेला होतात का ?, तेव्हा वैशालीतला वेटर विचारतो काॅलेजला गेला होतात का, असा मिश्किल शेरा एका पुणेकराने मारला.

फिजिक्स, केमिस्ट्री ची प्रक्टिकलस करत करत एक महिना उलटून गेला होता. लेक्त्चर मधील नोकिया ५२३३ आणि समसुंग काॅरबी ची चर्चासत्रं बंद झाली होती. रोजचा दिनक्रम करता करता अखेर डिसेंबर उजाडला. काॅलेज मध्ये इवेन्टचं वारं वाहू लागलं होतं. पहिल वर्ष असल्याने आम्हीही खूप एक्सायटेड होतो. टाय डे ला आयुष्यात पहिल्यांदा टाय घातला. दुसर्या दिवशी ट्रॅडिशनल डे ला स्पिकर वर सगळं काॅलेज नाचलं. व्हेनु दुसरा तिसरा नसून आपलं ‘किमया’ होतं.

यानंतर सुरु झाला तो परीक्षेचा सिझन, लायबररि मध्ये जाणं, बसमध्ये रिव्हीजन करनं हे सगळं चालू होतं, कारण रोज तर कधी अभ्यास केलाच नाह्वता. आता सारखी तेव्हा जुनिअर् काॅलेज मध्ये खूप कपल्स् नसायची त्यामुळे सगळ्यांचे मित्रं परिवार मोठे होते. नोटस घेण्याच्या बहाण्याने बर्याच जनांनी नाती जोडली, पण आमची मात्र पेन मागायची पण हिम्मत झाली नाही. पुढे बारावीत थोडा धेर्य आलं होतं पण संधी कधीच निघून गेली होती.

मग बारावी !

चातकाने जशी पाण्यासाठी परीक्षा करावी तशी आमचीही लढाई सुरु झाली. फर्ग्युसन मध्ये आजू बाजूला हुशार विद्यार्थ्यांची कमी न्हवती त्यामुळे स्पर्धा आणि माेटिवेशन अगदी पुरेपूर.

सकळी काॅलेज, दुपारी झाेपं आणि संध्याकाळी टिव्शनस् मध्ये उन्हाळा एकदम निवांत गेला, मग आला पावसाला. पावसाळ्यात फर्ग्युसन ला जाणार्य माणसाचा मला महाबळेश्वर ला जाणार्य माणसापेक्षा जास्त हेवा वाटतो. आआहा ! ती हिरवळ आणि ते वातावरण. थोड्या जरी सरी पडू लागल्या कि पब्लिक किमया मध्ये पळायच.

फिजिक्स च्या प्रक्टिकल मध्ये पावसामुळे ऐकू येत नसल्याने प्रक्टिकल बंद करावं लागलं होतं. पावसाळ्यानंतर पुन्हा डेज् आणि इवेन्टस, पण क्लासवाल्यानी आणि पालकांनी अति केल्यामुळे त्या मजेवर पाणी सोडावं लागलं. त्या दरम्यान अॅम्फि थिएटर मध्ये अविनाश धर्माधिकारी सरांच विवेकानंदांवर एक सेमिनार झालें होतं, अंगावर रोमांच सळसळत होतं पण काही दिवसात तेही विराळून गेल. बारावीत हनुमान टेकडी तेवढि आम्ही नक्की सर केली.

नंतर उन्हाळ्यात बारावीची परीक्षा हाच तेवढा फर्ग्युसनचा शेवटचा संपर्क. बाकीच्यांसारखे जिवलग मित्रं मैत्रिणी किवा कॉलेजमधील तुफान मजा असं माझं आयुष न्हव्ते पण आयुष्यभर पुरेल एवढं इन्स्पिरेशन फर्ग्युसनन मला दिलं. आजही फर्ग्युसन रोड ला गेल्यावर मी कॉलेज मध्ये चक्कर मारतो आणि त्या ४-५ वर्ष पूर्वीच्या आठवणी जाग्या होतात. त्या अप्रतिम वास्तू बद्धल विचार करताना टिळकांन् बद्धल चा आदर मात्र वाढतच राहतो.

“4 years which gave me an inspiration for next 40 years”

Many times we embark on a path which either creates an insanely significant value for us or changes the direction of our thinking, in my case it happened both.

Four years back a curious kid entered engineering with a vision to imbibe as much as knowledge as he can, but destiny had its own course of action.

The Journey started with attending the classes which either made a lot of sense or no sense at all but they all failed to prevail me till the end. Fortunately, I found an organization which was a kind of a hidden treasure for me. Entrepreneurship development cell of VIIT was a gem which helped me stimulate the lackluster mundane.

Here I am gonna focus on only one thing which created a copious value for me.

In 2013, cell started with an ardent initiative of organizing entrepreneurship summit named ‘Vishwapreneur’, vishwa highlighting the global and preneur as an entrepreneur. To be frank, I heard this word ‘entrepreneur’ first time in my life but the meaning of it had already inspired me to thrive and do more.

“In 2005, I was in 5th standard. My father used to drop me, at my school. After dropping me he used to rush to his work. Looking around, I found there were many parents chilling with their kids and from the belongings it seemed they had fulfilled all their desires. Which wasn’t a case with me as I belonged to the great middle-class background. After doing a little research, I found out that those people worked for themselves whereas my father worked for someone else. This inspired me to say that, ‘even I will work for myself’. After that day, a lot of fest air helped me clear what I really wanna achieve.”

Back to the story,

In the first year, 2013, I volunteered for the event with sloppy jeans and out of fashion white shirt but the very first experience to hear Mr. DSK sir made me give no damn about a style or looks. Teaching me that thinking is far more important than how you look.

The Second year had something different to offer, Miss Nisha Advani, the first and the only female convener of Vishwapreneur so far, architectured the concept of laser focus in my thinking. Thereby highlighting the importance of focus over speed.

The Third year was incredible. I was a vice president of the ECell and now had a plethora of opportunities in front of me. We successfully made a dream come true by getting Mr. Mahesh Manjrekar and Mr. Varun Agarwal for the convention. We touched a peak in reaching out to 50,000 students across Maharashtra. This year taught me the value of execution and timing.

Now came the last year, after exploring almost everything, I had to invigorate my thoughts. I was a co-convener with my best friend Saurabh Bhanage as a convener. I exclusively worked in guest speaker arrangements and made a history by making Vishwapreneur a true global extravaganza. We had a didactic social entrepreneur from the USA and crazily passionate musician from the UK. We made a captivating and transcend experience for enthusiastic participants coming across Maharashtra. Here, I learned a value of breaking dogma and not accepting the things as they are.

Today when I think of all those experiences, I feel it was destined because my ambitions needed aspirations. I needed to entrench myself and more importantly, meet those awesome people during the process. Before this, I had never ever thought that four years can bring so much of a change happiness along. Perhaps I don’t know what would be the right dream for me but I surely know how to live each of it to the fullest.

PS: Thanks to my friend and mentor Aditya Joshi for prodding me for this blog. 😀