Three Years in Bangalore – The joy, pain and where it leads?

18 Oct 2008, that was the day I landed in this beautiful garden cityΒ Bangalore as a 25 year old full with enthusiasm and energy to make it big. Now, three years hence, I can say it is exactly the same state I found myself in. Buzzing with energy, pumping in 14-16 hour days and excited about a lot of ideas sprouting in my head. Now I won’t say that it has been all rosy in these last three years, as there was a brief period of being lost, where I hardly was able to put in 6 hours a day, and I was either angry, frustrated, irritated or just tired all day along. But I am glad that this phase happened, and gladder that it is over now πŸ™‚

SaleRaja – The Joy and Pains of Entrepreneurship

The first year in Bangalore was full of experiencing what entrepreneurship is all about. There were good days, and there were not so good days. Technical discussions, night long marathon coding sessions, sales calls, and a lot of manual and boring repetitive tasks used to fill up my day. The Bangalore weather was the perfect catalyst for all this. Going to events, meeting the founders of other startups, partnering with a lots of people for different tasks and lots of brainstorming sessions made this period one of the most memorable of my life. I started as I felt working with InfoEdge that it was not too difficult to earn money ‘for ourselves‘. SaleRaja taught me it was not so easy either πŸ˜‰ Nothing could be more humbling than that, and the lessons from SaleRaja makes me what I am today. 15 months in Bangalore, and I had to make one of my toughest decisions to let go of SaleRaja, which might also be one of the wisest. For the whole SaleRaja journey, I can say that I started SaleRaja for earning money and getting rich. It didn’t make me any richer (in financial terms) but it ended my hunger for money and pushed me towards a journey for more meaningful things, and that was a big breakthrough.

New city, New games

New city, New games

Exploring New Territories

Once the burden of SaleRaja was no more, I felt really free and light compared to the heavy feeling of burden which I felt earlier. I started meeting a lot of people from the startup ecosystem in Bangalore, also had time to catch with a lot of friends in Bangalore whom I rarely met during the times of SaleRaja. I got interested in looking for new ideas for business, and saw a few very interesting ideas by entrepreneurs. I joined Yahoo during this time, and apart from work, started volunteering to teach school kids as part of a Yahoo! initiative. This step was path breaking as it helped me discover a new side of myself and opened up a lot of new doors. Not to forget are the many long rides I did on my bike which literally meant exploring new territories.

The Joy of Starting New Initiatives

Around the end of 2010, I decided it was time to do something (again). Well, once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur. I love starting new initiatives, and this time I decided to do something non-commercial, and something which was not related to internet and coding in any way. I took up a waste management initiative, organized an anti-corruption walk, and later started Pick a Fight. This journey, which still continues, got me in contact with some amazing people from the non-technical world, and it was an eye opening and view expanding experience.

Every city has its own language, customs and festivals

Every city has its own language, customs and festivals

The Future – I can sense some change soon

It has been almost two years since I gave up on SaleRaja, and I am really eager to get back to the game again. Although I am involved in the initiatives mentioned above, I am always excited by new business opportunities. In a way I can feel the winds of change coming towards me soon. I am not sure how long before I start something again, or whether I will start myself or join an already existing startup, or what idea it would be? But I am very sure that I am ready for it again now based on my learnings in the last two years. But this time I will not hurry up into it like last time (not repeating the mistakes) and do proper due diligence before jumping again (making new mistakes).

How letting go of SaleRaja could be one of my best decisions ever?

It was December 2009, and although I was still working on SaleRaja, it was now more as a burden than for interest. I was stumbling in the timelines for feature changes that I had set myself, my enthusiasm was low and I was unsure about what the future had in store for me and SaleRaja. Finally, after managing SaleRaja alone for the whole of 2009, I decided to let it go and focus on my career through a job. That means I was soon looking for a job when at one time I thought that I would not have to find another job ever. My motivation levels were at an all-time low, and I was confused and unsure about what next?

But I decided to take a break from entrepreneurship, focus on my career through a normal job, and come back to entrepreneurship some years later. It was not an easy decision, and it took me around six months of consideration to finally stop running SaleRaja as a business. Looking back now, 16 months after that decision, I can laugh over those uncertain times and say that it might be one of the best decisions I ever took. The first few months were tough, as I was confused, low on confidence and struggling to find a direction in life. But after that, and till now, the going has been wonderful. I have done things in the last one year that I never thought I could, and would do, ever. I am listing below everything for which I am really grateful in this past year.

I had always been good at writing, but used my writing skills only when writing letters, emails, or when somebody asked my help with it. Hence, in January 2010, I started as a blog where I would write about different things I feel about, my experiences, my life, etc. I could only do so because I was free and there were no SaleRaja deadlines to follow. It was not easy at first, and I was not able to write more than one post per week. Writing was like a pain in the ass and I had to put in a lot of concentration, patience and effort to research about a topic and write an article. But slowly and steadily, I started enjoying writing and I am writing around 15 articles every month now. Many of my articles have been well received and been shared a lot through social media like facebook, twitter, etc. Now I have plans of writing and getting a book published in 5 years.

Reading Books
I started reading books during the last few months of 2009 when I was struggling with SaleRaja, but I made it regular only after Jan 2010. I started reading two books every month and have been following this practice till now. I have read autobiographies, self help books, and a few business and fiction books too. These books have allowed me to take a peek into the stories of so many men and women, and the perspective of life I got after that have been amazing. I have a small, but good library now and have a lot of books in my to-read list.

A screenshot from

A screenshot from

Landmark Education
Right after SaleRaja, I was looking for some kind of education to fill in the gaps in my skills which I had found during my stint with SaleRaja. I looked at MBA options, some short time courses done by IIMs and other B-schools, but nothing interested me. I started finding groups online related to business, entrepreneurship and started meeting like minded people in Bangalore, but that also didn’t sustain. Then I enrolled myself in the various programs of Landmark Education since July 2010, and am continuing this education even now. This could not have come at a better time for me. It has helped me get my confidence to a new level and clear a lot of doubts about life. Also, I met a lot of people through Landmark Education who are very successful and leading wonderful lives, providing inspiration and support. I can without doubt say this last seven-eight months of Landmark has been the best education of my life. It is ironical how we keep studying about specific skills / courses but never study anything about life and living in general.

Joined Yahoo
Yahoo, Google and a few more are the dream companies of many people. I was open to both startups and big companies when I started looking for a job again, and found myself in Yahoo in March 2010. Having spent the last one year here, it has given me my first experience of working in a multinational company. Dealing with different people and teams from Singapore, Brazil, Europe and US over the last year has given me much needed exposure about how work happens across continents, cultures and languages. In the future too, I am sure there is a lot I can gain from Yahoo and working here.

Waste Management Activities
In September 2010, I got intrigued by the idea of waste management and thought of a business idea around it. Since starting a new business was out of question, I got involved in waste management related activities in Bangalore to know more about its details. I took an initiative to implement waste management in apartments starting November 2011 and have got a decent response from that. I have met a lot of people who are already working in this area and am totally amazed by their energy levels. They have been a great inspiration about how to to live life responsibly. It also gave me the confidence to take new initiatives in any area, irrespective of my skills and knowledge in that area.

Dandi March 2
In March 2011, I got a chance to organize an anti-corruption walk in Bangalore. In less than three weeks, I put together a team and on 26 March, over 400 people walked over 11km under 4 hours to make this walk a huge success. These three weeks were one of the best of my life, with all my learnings in the past year put to test. I got confidence like never before after this event, and the Anna Hazare magic caught the attention of the whole nation soon after that. It was during this time only that some articles written by me attracted huge traffic from google as people searched for anti-corruption keywords on the internet. The success of this walk is the reason nothing seems impossible now to me.

What Next?
Although I have gained a lot in the last one year, I very clearly see a long journey ahead with lots to learn and do. I am in the most calm and peaceful state of mind that I have ever been, and with confidence that I can take on anything now. It has not been all uphill too in the last year, and I have tasted some setbacks too, but I have surprised myself with how well I have handled myself during these breakdowns. I have taken the lessons from the mistakes I have committed without getting frustrated and upset, and moved on to newer things. For the remaining of 2011, I have atleast two more initiatives lined up in the social space, so watch out in the coming weeks for more updates πŸ™‚

Update – Pick a Fight was born soon after I wrote this post

No Waste – Call for Action

No Waste

In my last few posts, I have already written about “What happens to our waste?” and “What can we do about it?” If you have not already read those posts, read them now before continuing. In this post, I am going to list down a ‘call to action’ plan where I intend to implement dry waste segregation, collection and recycling in residential apartments across Bangalore and Delhi/NCR. I am already involved in some waste management related activities in Bangalore for the last few months. Apart from that, I am participating in Landmark Education’s Self Expression and Leadership Program (SELP) and as part of that, I have to do a community project. So I am taking this up to fulfill both the above objectives…

What I want to accomplish is to implement dry waste segregation at source (into paper, plastic, others) in residential apartment complexes and ensure the segregated waste is sold to the recycler. This will reduce the waste going out to landfills by a good percentage (60-80%) and also generate income for the residential apartment. This income can be used in the welfare/salary of the housekeeping staff in these apartments. So lets get to the plan now and see how do we go about executing the “No Waste” initiative –

Step 1 – Talk to the group managing day to day affairs of the apartment and educate them about the “No Waste” initiative.

Step 2 – Do a door to door educational / awareness campaign educating the residents about the need to segregate waste and its advantages.

Step 3 – Distributing colored bags for three different levels of segregation of waste. Step 2 and 3 can be clubbed together.

Step 4 – Doing weekly collection of the segregated dry waste (every Sat/Sun) from the residents, educating the residents at the same time if they have not done it properly, or educating the households which are not participating.

Step 5 – Organizing a event where residents / maids / housekeeping staff will be educated about the need for waste segregation. Some NGO will come and readily help us with this. Can be done independent of the other steps.

Step 6 – Storing the collected waste in the apartment complex, where it can be picked up by the recycling company or some NGO where it can be recycled. This can be done on weekly or fortnightly basis depending on quantity of waste generated.

Step 7 – Revenue generated from selling off recyclable material can be used to promote the campaign and to pay the salary of the housekeeping staff involved in the same.

Lets stop dumping our waste into landfills

Lets stop dumping our waste into landfills

So it will be a win-win situation for all. It will be good for the environment as the waste going to landfills will be reduced drastically. It will be good for the industry as it will get recyclable paper/plastic for use as raw material and reduce their input costs. It will be good for the housekeeping staff as it will generate income from the sale of recyclable material which can be used for their welfare. The only thing required is a little effort from our side. So lets join hands to make this a reality.

So if you live in an apartment complex and want to implement this there, get in touch with me. If you know anyone who is willing to take this up, get me contacted to that person. And if you want to be a part of this project but don’t live in an apartment, there is still a lot you can do, so get in touch with me. You can call me at +91-9916532966 or ping me online.

Current Status – Step 1 and 2 have been done in many (8+) apartments and all steps (till step 7) in around 5-6 apartments. Kudos to all those involved!!