All thoughts presented in the article solely belong to the author. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely possible.
Wandering in the memory lane back to my early days of college where the excitement of attending the prestigious annual techno-management fest hit the peak. It was simply exciting because you could hear inspirational speakers, make friends with visitors from around the nation and get a break from the monotonous mess food. Watching an event of such a scale in your college was terrific.
It was amazing to see organizers wearing black tees and a phone in a hand running around to fix the things. Addressing the visitors, escorting dignitaries, lifting heavy podiums and making their way with the tent house helpers. Did you realize all the above activities require varied skills? but across the team, one characteristic was clearly common – perseverance. None of them had shirked away, which made me wonder about the love they shared for organizing their fest. Yes, it was theirs. They created that. As inspiring it was, none lesser would it have been difficult for a group of folks aged anything around 19 to pull it off. Commendable!
And how could I resist joining the team to carry the baton? It started with limited responsibilities but was thoroughly engaging. Arranging food stalls (as it was a beginner’s level), local sponsorships, setting up the stages, putting up banners inside the campus and controlling the crowd. This instigated a spirit of togetherness in me and along with the team we put up a brilliant show. Going forward I headed a bigger team, cracked bigger sponsorship deals and managed to attract larger footfalls. The final night of the fest deserves a special mention where the feeling of achieving an extraordinary high let loose the tears of happiness. The way entire organizing team rejoices with a feeling of unity is beyond expressible. No matter how hard I could try, there was no way I knew to control my emotions and being a part of that high.
I learned to firefight the tough situations. Fixing things that broke at the last moment such as stage not being ready an hour before the main night show. I geared up for sleepless nights and worked hard making the things simpler for an onlooker. Missed regular classes, was labeled as a hard worker and always tried to uplift the team to create an impact.
It was hard to imagine that inculcating an intensity to perform could transform my career goals. I preferred to start my venture and cared less for that juicy job everyone was running after. Simply accrediting it to the confidence I managed to sweep during the times of organizing the college fest. I took it in a stride and convinced the world around that I wish to start up.
Driven by crazy passion and carrying the learnings I was sure of two things –
1. you cannot start a new venture without an innovation
2. anything can be achieved with teamwork
As the time passed by, I managed to get hold of similar-minded friends, shared a concept everyone would love to work upon and teamed up to solve a real challenge which we had faced ourselves – the high capital cost of furnishing your home or office when there is no other convenient method of alternate consumption to products. This was a good problem to solve for millions of college graduates to who shift to a new city for their job. This marked the birth of GrabOnRent.
Those sleepless nights came back to haunt but we were better prepared. Having learnt the techniques to finding quick hacks to practical challenges, we quickly tied up with a few suppliers and launched the product in a fair condition to test it with a real audience. The pleasure of preparing so hard for GrabOnRent came to us when we get our first order at 12 midnight and we delivered it in half hour. The journey from first order till our 2000th order makes me confidently say that the only oxygen to keep you ticking is your customers’ need for your services. It is very similar to a college fest receiving a huge footfall which makes the team feel accomplished.
Being an active member of the organizing team at a college fest was clearly the first climb of the ladder towards learning the tricks. You tackle unforeseen challenges, learn to head teams and figure out hacks to fix various shortcomings. At a startup level, you enter a battlefield on day one with an army still to be built and stand up to the competition. The game that you thought would be a smooth pathway turns out to be a roller-coaster ride with no support on either side. Being an operations-heavy venture, you require raising funds to stay afloat similar to raising sponsorships to conduct events at a fest. You learn to stand up every time you fall short of targets. You again gear up with your team to experience the exhilaration you once did a few years ago. Every time you smash a target your team stands with heartwarming applause. You position your team ahead of yourself and teamwork pays off. You soak the pressure as a leader and allow a comforting environment for other mates to excel and innovate.
I realize that I am reliving the old journey of heading the fest back in my college on a totally new magnitude. I gain strength from the performances we once delivered and carrying the confidence of bettering it every day on this new stage. One may argue that most startups are shortsighted and lose momentum more often than not. Well, that’s the beauty of it. The game becomes more and more interesting as you keep pushing the boundaries to tag along success to your name. Like in a fest, outperforming previous year’s scale helps it achieve more popularity. One underlying aspect that gets highlighted is perseverance.
I could connect the dots after several years of being in those shoes. Just thinking how a service such as GrabOnRent could have simplified my life during the fest by providing event supplies single-handedly. Each one of us could think of a million reasons to not to start up, but all that we should be hunting instead is that kick to starting up. if you have read this far and are seeking for that one reason, here’s a very useful essay by Paul Graham that beautifully addresses the speculations one makes before starting an entrepreneurial journey.