It was 1998. I had recently graduated with an engineering degree. Most of my classmates had joined a software company or moved abroad for masters. Neither of these ideas made me want to sing and dance. I couldn’t hack the idea of sitting at the desk the entire day and punching a keyboard. And I wasn’t feeling ready to study again, yet.
I wanted to work. I wanted to meet customers, sell stuff, try out some new ideas, make a balance sheet, and all that. Call me young and foolish if you will, but I think I was already ‘business minded’. I knew I wanted something more.
Now I know what I needed then. I needed a mentor. I needed people who would coach me, push me, and show me how things are done. God bless my parents. They really tried. But think I was way too emotional then to learn from them! I wanted to freely try new things without the fear of failing. I was not lazy. I needed an environment that would energise me and give me dump loads of work to do. I need to find myself.
I did something cool after I graduation. I started a business with my mother, who is and was then an artist. We created a new product ranged based on her body of artwork. After 2 years of doing that, I got myself a formal business degree. But those 2 years became a foundational experience for me. I learn’t how to make a new product, how to create a logo, how to hire people, how to find vendors, how to tie up a distributor, how to package my product, how to manage cash flow, how to convince my partners of my ideas, and many others things that even the best MBA couldn’t have ‘taught’ me. I have referred back to that time countless times in my MBA classes with my teachers and classmates, and later in my years as an entrepreneur.
It surprises me that for most professions there exists a well chalked out career roadmap. If you want to be a doctor, an IAS officer, a chartered accountant, or even a scuba instructor, there are clear career pathways available. But what if you want to be a businessperson? MBA? Family business? Work in an MNC? How do I sharpen my business instincts and equip myself with the skills and attitudes needed? It’s a dark cloud of confusion out there.
We are attempting to build a program for undergrad students interested in the world of business to help them sharpen their business mindset, while they are still at college. Participants are selected based on their ‘hunger to get out there and do stuff’. They are coached on finding, testing and building a business of their own. They learn to apply cutting-edge business tools on their actual businesses. They have to sell and make profit. They fail more than they succeed. But it’s amazing how fast they learn!
It is very satisfying to attempt to solve for others the problem that you suffered from yourself the most. If you too feel that we need to rethink how we groom our young generation for a life in business, please do connect. We would love to explore more possibilities!