john_lennon_quote_lifeI’m writing after years months here – mostly due to lack of inspiration to scribble anything worthy enough for you to keep your reading attention. But today was different. Today I’m leaving my cozying up and spilling something which I’d kept within myself for 5 years. May be few close ones know but 99.99% of you reading don’t.

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It’s about “the sickening feeling” of running low on personal cash. Yes for some, you might have been there and for some not. But there’s always of back story to everything.

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It all started some 30 odd years back arriving to a 1st generation entrepreneur (my dad). He’s a real life fighter. During my growing years, he taught me lot of stuff about life. Amongst them I remember one advice the most – “keep your brain cool and your mouth sweet” – caveat being its hard to follow but will always give you rich dividends.

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Looking at my dad, taking risks and doing something on my own has always been my goal. But as they say it always take a little push to take that extra stride.

THE DOG YEARS

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My so-called corporate life began in June 2008 joining a big company in Mumbai. By then the very idea of starting on my own was a distant idea. Every morning getting draped in formal clothes and gearing to win the world was my motto. But three months into my first job, I realized I’m not cut out for this. I wanted more awesomeness – more responsibility, more autonomy, more challenges. Not to mention my 56 year old boss who was counting his retirement days didn’t buy into this logic.

THE ACCIDENT

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Four months into my job, I met with a road accident in October 2008 (whose marks I still carry on my body). Later after the incident, many mentioned that I was minutes away from saying my final goodbye but fate had some other plans.

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After the accident, I stayed at home for almost a month healing my scars with minimal contact with the outside world. That was my moment of truth and comprehending the fragility of life. That moment of truth was staring at me and asked “What am I doing?

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Soon after I left the job and moved on.

THE FINAL REALIZATION

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…not to start on my own but another job. This was going to be amazing and epic. Finally stepped into a job where world wide web was bread & butter and not just remotely connected to googling search results for analysis and paralysis. I loved the job. Couple of months into it, I faced the same circumstances of a job from which I was running from.

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I realized that I’m anti-authoritarian. I can’t work under strict regime. I loved stress, chaos, unstructured environment as it provides me some kind of high simplifying the complexity.

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So I finally moved on.

FIRST MOVE

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I ganged up with my old buddies and started my first company, Wanamo. It was September 2009 – exactly after a year of my accident. As always, the initial phase of ideation, brainstorming was involving and addictive.

During my end-of-the-month salary days, I’d saved some little money. So I put a large portion of my savings and started off.

Few months into starting up, I faced with the sickening truth of life – depleting bank balance. It went down to ₹13.65. Pretty bad shape I was in. Fortunately, I’d my GF (now wife) saved me for the months to come and I survived somehow.

THE LIBERATING FEELING

There’s something amazing about having no money – you feel liberated. You don’t own anything, you don’t chase anything. Your meaning of happiness changes forever.

Along with that, comes the reality of practical life of making ends meet; not just for you but for your family.

Frugality gives you a powerful weapon which otherwise is invisible – “desperation“. Desperation to make things work. And all I had was to make Wanamo work. We tried everything possible with the available information but nothing worked. We couldn’t raise money which could have sustained our business and possibly us.

So, we sold out in mid 2010. Not a major one but enough to make my loved ones happy momentarily.

SECOND MOVE

Come 2011 – now I’m married and things are all hail and hearty but same old question – “What am I doing?” Although I continue working with the new team post acquisition but my left & right brain were not in cohesion.

But this time, things are slightly different – I’m financially almost stable with little bit of experience.

End of 2011, I quit and get back to the drawing board and start working on Instamojo with few of my old buddies.

BIGGEST NEWS OF MY LIFE

On 31st December, 2011 at 8:40pm, me and my wife got the biggest news of our life. We are going to be parents. That’s not all, we are going to be parents to two identical babies. My jaw almost dropped on the floor – first out of amazement & happiness which soon turned into anxiety and disbelief.

Later that night I looked into my bank balance again. My bank balance of ₹56,658 stared at me and I stared at it for almost 10 mins without a flinch.

Although I’d saved quite a bit lately then but we were working on the idea for little over 4 months and I’d spent a good amount by then and it was depleting fast. More so, I didn’t see an outside investment rightaway.

Might I mention that I’d miscalculated how hard it can be to raise money. And that too when our idea was radically new and distinctly different considering those times (this was during those times when you get to hear everywhere about the massacre and blood spilled all across the startup ecosystem whenever someone remotely mentioned about commerce).

THAT SICKENING FEELING

My life’s events has turned my paltry bank balance (cash-in) into an ATM machine (cash-out) – both from personal and professional front with no sight of external financial help.

In one side, I’ve a lovely pregnant wife with two babies coming and on the other hand I’ve another baby yet to take its flight. On top of it, most of my waking hours are being spent on either building the product or pitching to the investors.

At that point of time, I was so desperate that I agreed to a friend’s brother who was kind enough to promise me a loan of ₹500,000 for Instamojo at 20% monthly interest.

But my first true angel investor bailed me out of it. Soon after, we joined 500startup’s accelerator program in fall 2012 and raised more than I’d initially expected from some of the marquee investors across the globe.

LIFE’S LESSONS

I’ve observed that we are always worrying and preparing for the worst outcome. I say, why are you so afraid. What are you afraid off anyways? Life’s schema doesn’t follow any logic. It treads its own path. So only way you can out beat is by treading your own path and making the most out of it.

Finally, signing off with my dad’s wisdom: “keep your brain cool and your mouth sweet“.