What is stopping you from starting your own business? The fear of failure? Difficulty in reaching out to the right customer? Unpredictable results? Don’t be a bundle of nerves. Learn how to overcome your fears from the inspiring stories of these youngsters!
EOINDIA introduces the best five young entrepreneurs of the country who weathered the storm and achieved superlative success. Read and get inspired!
1. Amit Agarwal – 21, CEO & Founder, UpCart
The crowd in the magnificent Rashtrapati Bhavan delivered a loud applause when Amit, ranked as the number one young entrepreneur in the country, proceeded towards the stage to receive accolades from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
While addressing the crowd with a remarkable title in his hand, Amit recollected how he overcame hurdles to pursue his dreams. During his childhood, Amit had to travel 108 KM everyday to reach school. But he knew he would make it big in life someday.
Who’s Amit? Well, he is an entrepreneur from Siliguri, West Bengal. His company UpCart is now creating waves across the globe with its all terrain carts for carrying luggage.
How did he do it? Great inventions are born out of necessity.
Years ago, Amit and his mom were returning home from city. They had a lot of luggage. Upon reaching home they found it difficult to carry the luggage upstairs.
His mom had to tip the rickshawala to carry their them upstairs. That’s when the idea first struck him. He pondered over the idea of creating a cart to easily carry luggage.
Designing a smaller and effective cart was challenging. When he first shared the idea with others, they ridiculed him. But he never lent his ears to their scornful words.
Finally he succeeded in designing a cart that could help carry heavy luggage everywhere. “I let my work speak for me,” he says. His parents always stood by him and encouraged him to finish his endeavours successfully. When he first shared the idea with others, they ridiculed him.
Amit submitted his proposal when the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship announced an event to find budding entrepreneurs who effectively address the problems faced by Indian market. His proposal got impressive feedback and recognition. In his opinion, Upcart had a vision to solve the problems of luggage carriage.
Amit is also the winner of NASSCOM e-summit 2016 and that helped him understand the challenges faced by entrepreneurs in India and gave him a clear picture about Indian market. So he decided to modify the design in a cost-effective, yet reliable way.
UpCart comes with flexible and user-friendly design that can carry heavy luggage and it has a separate space for gadgets. It works on a triple-wheel mechanism and can be folded. Carrying the luggage along the stairs is a piece of cake with these carts. The new versions even have GPS tracking system that can be enabled through smartphones.
Amit is BBA student of Inspiria Campus, SIliguri. His friends and teachers are proud of him and they are not surprised at his achievements. Amit does not want to confine his role to entrepreneurship. He is active in philanthropic activities.
He’s at the helm of the social service club of the college, has been giving training to school students for free on skill development, and is an active member of BHAWANA Society, a group associated with orphanages.
“ I let my work speak for me ” – Amit Agarwal
2. Ritesh Aggarwal – 23, CEO & Founder, OYO Rooms
We all travel. But finding a room with good amenities at reasonable rates while traveling is a tough task. Even some pricey rooms may not have basic amenities. This is where OYO comes to the picture. It provides budget rooms with top-class amenities. Sounds great, right?
Meet Ritesh Aggarwal, the brain behind OYO rooms, the largest chain of budget hotel rooms in India. Ritesh is a college dropout. But he had a clear idea about his plans. He even sold sim cards to earn a living and to hone his entrepreneurial skills.
The greatest challenge for entrepreneurs is to find a problem in the market, which they intend to solve. Right from his school days, Ritesh was a frequent traveler. He used to visit places and stay at cheaper hotels that lack basic amenities.
From his experience as a traveler, he discovered that standardized budget rooms had a great possibility in India. And OYO was born.
Though he dropped out of college to work out his plans, he didn’t get his parents’ nod for his choice. They tried to dissuade him. But things took a turn when he received the prestigious Thiel Fellowship to start off his business.
Initially, at 18, he set up Oraval Stays in 2011. It was a hotel-rental startup. Later, as the business grew, he changed the name of the company into OYO (On Your Own). He started with just 11 rooms at a hotel in Gurgaon. Now OYO has over 70,000 rooms in 7000 hotels across India and the company started international operations with its launch in Malaysia this year.
According to Ritesh, every person who travels is his potential customer. He believes Indian travelers mostly look for budget rooms with great amenities, and OYO makes it possible. Every room you book through OYO has been maintained according to the OYO standards. It includes free WiFi, complimentary breakfast, branded toiletries, etc. The standards of the rooms are audited regularly to ensure quality.
Ritesh’s story convinces us on how to approach India’s vibrant startup atmosphere. He has already carved a niche for himself among Indian entrepreneurs. OYO is scaling new heights as it fetched an investment of $250 million from SoftBank. The company is planning to expand its international operations next year.
“ It is extremely important to build something that a 100 people absolutely love using rather than make something that a 1000 people would just, kind of, like ”
– Ritesh Aggarwal
3. Shashank ND – 30, CEO & Co-founder, Practo
Nine years ago, Shashank ND, a biotechnology student hailing from Karnataka, came across the problems in healthcare sector when his dad was asked to undergo a knee-replacement surgery.
He was confused. So he decided to seek an expert opinion. He contacted a doctor in the US. But unfortunately he couldn’t send the medical records of his dad to the doctor as they were not available in digital format.
So Shashank thought of building a platform that digitally stores medical records and provides room for doctor-patient discussion. He co-founded Practo along with his classmate Abhinav Lal.
They offered two platforms – Practo Ray, an online platform that allows doctors to store medical records of patients, and Practo.com, a website through which people can find doctors across different specializations.
When Shashank approached doctors to discuss it, they supported the idea and encouraged him to move on with the plan. The first version of Practo was created with suggestions from doctors in 2008.
Initially, he collaborated with the doctors in Bangalore. The response was phenomenal. This persuaded Shashank and team to push the limits and the company started expanding.
Doctors can log into Practo and update their profile to communicate with patients. To ensure credibility, doctors are added only after a strict verification. Shashank says that Practo acts a bridge between doctors and patients. So when you feel your health isn’t ok, just download Practo and chat with your doctor.
Now Practo is spread across 15 countries, delivering consumer and software businesses. The company has 50 million appointments a year, 200,000 healthcare providers and over 5000 employees worldwide.
Practo recently raised $55 million with a lion’s share of investment coming from Chinese internet company Tencent Holdings to expand the business. It is one of the most promising companies to look for in coming years.
“ The goal has never been about being an entrepreneur or starting a company. It has always been about solving a problem we deeply care about ” – Shashank ND
4. Bhavish Aggarwal – 32, Co-founder & CEO, OLA Cabs
Every city might seem strange on your first visit. The most confusing part would be arranging cabs to take you to different places. To add to the misery, local drivers may burn your pockets and you might not be guaranteed a safe trip.
All these are now just stories. Today, you are the ultimate planner of your trip! You can select a destination, locate a cab and go to places at reasonable rates. Thanks to Bhavish Aggarwal, the co-founder of OLA Cabs.
The idea of setting up an online transportation network company struck Bhavish when he was working with Microsoft after graduating from IIT Mumbai in 2008. In Bhavish’s opinion, the first thing an aspiring entrepreneur should do is to convince the family.
His parents thought he was crazy when he left the well-paid job at Microsoft to start a ‘taxi company’! They didn’t have any idea on what exactly he was doing. They even felt that their son was a travel agent. But Bhavish had already laid out his plans.
When he started OLA in Mumbai in 2010, online car hiring was at its infancy in India. But with consistent hard work and dedication, OLA is now one of the most trusted brands in India with over 6000 employees across the country.
Bhavish feels the most important thing that helps your company grow is the customer feedback. He still responds to the mails and ensure the best service to the OLA patrons. He also handles marketing strategy and frequently communicates with branch heads to stay
ahead in competition.
Many ask him about the complex business structure of OLA. He smiles and discards their opinion. OLA cabs, in his opinion, follows a simple business structure. The company just takes a small commission from the drivers. He claims that OLA is at the helm of Indian market with an average 150,000 booking per day.
Bhavish has devised different strategies to popularize the brand. In order to persuade customers, the company has recently introduced OLA Outstation for longer journeys. This helps users to choose from different types of car and plan a trip with family.
The 7 year old OLA is now one of the fastest growing companies in India with a net revenue of $ 150 million. Today OLA operates across 110 cities in India. Looking back, Bhavish feels that all his decisions were right.
To expand the operations, OLA raised $ 1.1 billion from SoftBank and Tencent Holdings. In future, Bhavish is planning to make a presence in AI related industry and machine learning. Presently, OLA facilitates transportation through cars, auto-rickshaws and bikes.
“ It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen ” – Bhavish Aggarwal
5. Phanindra Sama – 35, former CEO and Co-founder, redBus
It was a Diwali season in 2005. Phanindra Sama, who had been working in Bangalore, desperately wandered along the city bus stations to catch a bus home. He had promised to be home on Diwali, but fate had a different story for him. Unable to get a bus, Phanindra missed that graceful festive gathering at his home.
But the bitter experience never let him down. It persuaded him to start redBus, an online ticketing platform for buses. Phanindra co-founded redBus in 2006 along with his friends.
Earlier, booking bus tickets was a tiring task and there were a lot of credibility issues. With the arrival of redBus, bus ticketing became hassle-free. You can book a ticket with a few clicks.
Indian bus transportation is a complex system involving scores of travel agencies and agents. Phanindra and his friends organized all the main travel agents under redBus and made things easier and systematic.
redBus mainly operates inter-state buses, which finds a good traffic of passengers every day. With Phanindra’s unparalleled hard work, the company’s turnover reached 1000 crore within a couple of years.
Phanindra, hailing from Andhra Pradesh, had his education from BITS Pilani and Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. Before creating redBus, he worked with Texas instruments. The idea of starting an online bus ticketing platform was strenuous, but it gave him a kick. His experience as a passenger motivated him to start redBus.
Ibibo acquired redBus in 2014. It is now the number one online bus ticketing platform and the most trusted brand in India.
Phanindra’s story underlines the fact that the first source of inspiration for every entrepreneur is his own life experience. Because experience is the only quality that counts.
“ Waiting for the perfect time is never as smart as making progress ” – Phanindra Sama
Hardships are common in every business. If you’re innovative in presenting your ideas, nothing will hold you back from overcoming them.
A thorough understanding of the nature of your business will help in overcoming your fears and concerns. So stay updated. Your skills and tactics are necessary to remain in the competition.
Understanding the new trends is crucial in designing your product. That’s how your company becomes unique. Listen to the problems of customers and find an opportunity to flourish. So address the problems correctly. Just be a sensible thinker. There are still a lot of unsolved problems in Indian market.
These youngsters shrugged off their fears and believed in themselves to deliver extraordinary results when their peer groups were busy watching cricket or pondering over their love. Get inspired. Don’t be too late. It’s time to work your fingers to the bone!
Don’t ever let your fear overtake your passion. Each idea takes its own time to evolve and bring results. Take calculated risks. Go beyond your comfort zone and work harder. Because one brave decision will be enough to change your company’s image!
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