Life is fortunately unfortunate for many of us who have seen a hurdels and bumpy roads on the way to making big in academics. Our emotions go on a toll and some might fight and make it big, and other might just make the most of their failures. Same is the story of Mr Raghu Nandan Choudhary, Founder & CEO at Team Variance, who shared a writeup on how his entrepreneur journey started and how he made big in a short span of time.
Raghu is a passionate digital strategist who created a “group” of like-minded friends in 2013, to take vision to start a company to support the brands for better ideation and growth. Below are his words on his journey to make it big in the competitive market of digital:
How my 2 % low academic score ended up into a Startup
Starting with a brief background, I was fortunate that I was sent to a private English medium school to study compared to my sisters who studied in a government Hindi medium school (I feel guilty they obviously deserved equal opportunity). English education is vital in the country as its the minimum criteria required to succeed. It’s not only time to focus on #SkillIndia but it’s our own individual responsibility to combat against these basics: Equality #qualityeducation
After Schooling, I remember, it was 26th April, 2007 & I was 19, when I landed in the Capital to do higher studies (Reality: I wanted to be independent, because of all knack-knack — why, when what and trashing from Dad for getting lower score) Higher education was a good reason for me to be able to leave my small town to a city like Delhi as I always wanted to be independent.
With no clue about the process of admission and competition in Delhi University, I suddenly felt the heat when I realized I was competing with the entire country with limited seats.
LESSON 1: Don’t just be a dreamer; always do your ground homework before getting into for anything new.
I missed the regular college gates by 2 %. I had already given up on Science stream, as I hated balancing equation, so decided to go on with B.Com by correspondence instead. As far as Indian education system goes there are only three options you can choose from: Science Stream (become a doctor/ Engineer), Commerce Stream (Get a bank job), Arts (which has no value). Since I decided to do a correspondence degree, I missed my chances of meeting new people and interact and experience the college life. I guess, this is how, it was destined.
This was my first failure in the real world after which I had nothing to do other than sitting back in the room and studying, which obviously got too boring. I got influenced and ended up wasting an entire year (2007–2008) enrolling by one year course in Hospitality & Aviation draining 1.25 Lakh (arranged via private financing USD 3125 back then, I wish I knew it was so valuable). In 3–4 months, I understood Hospitality was not my cup of tea. but I had to continue since most of the fee was already paid.
Lesson 2: Do what you are passionate about and not just fall into trap by getting influenced by your friend or uncle’s son.
How I ended up doing a job at an early age of 19 which lasted for 15 days
I was residing in a rented apartment like other students in Delhi with three of my school friends. Something interesting happened which was a turning point of my life, My neighbour friend with whom I use to hangout fell ill (Dengue) and I used INR 10,000 (USD 250 back then) to get him admitted to the hospital, and arranged his ticket for his hometown by which, I was supposed to pay tuition fee of my course. To my shock, he stopped responding to my calls and messages and disappeared completely. I was shattered. I had no clue what to do and how to arrange funds, the only option I had was to find a job, I started looking for a night job, but with poor communication skills, it was hard as most of night jobs needed me to speak with international customers. Even after more than 30 interviews, I was always being rejected. With each rejection, I prepared harder for the next interview.
Lesson 3 : Never ever lend money to anyone blindly even if it is for a noble cause, If incase you do always have a backup plan!
The institute wanted their fee on time and they ended up calling my Dad for delay in payment. I was terrified and gave them an excuse that I have lend the money to a friend who would be returning me next month. (I lied as there was no hope of getting the repaying as it was already two months I even heard from him) I desperately needed a job. Only option I had find a night shift job. While I was going through all this, I kept appearing for interviews, get rejected came home and then prepared for the next interview. While this was happening Avinash my friend referred me his company where the job involved to sell mortgage. I prepared for the interview but terribly failed during the interview process due to my heavy accent. Still I was glad that still hired, (seems like the reference worked) at a salary of INR 9100 pm (USD 227). So that’s how I started working at the age of 19, while I continued my hospitality classes in the morning and at night talking with Americans whom I could hardly understand what they were saying (due to their accent & also I was always drowsy since I was not in habit of working at night) I hustled daily thinking of I will get used to night shift, Each day I was making 500–700 calls to generate 1 lead in which i significantly failed. In 15 days they figured out that I wasn’t performing well, and they kicked me out on the 15th day. I got paid for 15 days work borrowed the remaining money from my friends and paid the tuition fee. But this was not it.
Lesson 4: Focus on one thing at a time whats in front of you might get kicked anytime.
My second job ended up in a liquor store!
I still needed to repay my friends from whom I had borrowed, so I had to find an evening job while continuing classes in the morning. It happened with the promotional job (6 PM -10 PM) at a liquor shop (I had never tasted alcohol then). I had some experience of direct sales while I was in school, I use to sell Vodafone sim cards in my locality for pocket money, but it was different here selling the unknown. I gradually learned the art of approaching people and started selling Royal Challenge at the counter who asked for Blenders Pride at the counter, (RC would cost 10 % more than Blenders Pride). It was a one month contract which helped me repay all my debt.
During this job I understood the art of sales and I did well, I learned quickly about the product, the customers, the market, and the competition. My next job was at Wipro where I spent three precious years of my life working exploring and unleashing my potentials, I was fortunate being the top performer, which excited me being the cool boss, to be able to work independently. In a very short period of time, I received promotion. There were new challenges ahead, so that wasn’t sufficient. It kept feeling like I needed to learn more after which I decided to work for two startups of different kind where I significantly learned on how to build a business over the internet and founded my first failed startup. My second company Variance Technologies kicked off well with my co-founder Vivek Sharma. I was fortunate to have passionate tech geeks around at Variance who loved what they did and their passion to code and solve any tech problem that comes across, made me confident that this journey will continue.
Maybe that’s the lesson: It’s better to live with the experience and make the best of it. And who knows if I could ever have a chance to experience it again, I will start from not just by doing basic school education rather I would pick up something which gives me the ability to create something of my own, like some craftsman.
All of this made me feel that there is a huge gap between the education provided and the guidance which was actually needed. Kids don’t know the opportunities available to them to even start with, and most of the kids still hear only about IIT’s, engineering and medical. And for those who are weak in studies, a BBA or a BA is suggested. I think much more beyond these professions, they need to wisely decide and do things that they love doing.
Author: Raghu Nandan Choudhary, Founder & CEO, Team Variance
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