My journey towards a startup started after completing my graduation (B.Pharmacy) in 2005 I quickly joined the sales team of Glenmark Pharmaceuticals and later jumped into the booming hospital industry. Initial 3 years was filled with fun, learning, good pay and the motivating perks. From the 4th year I was not as motivated as I was before, job seemed monotonous and I believed that there was more to me that a regular 9-5 job. I wanted to become an entrepreneur but without a strong financial backup I was clueless on which industry to put my foot into.
I felt that the best place to learn all these things would be a B-School and a right MBA can help me understand how to start my own business and scale it. I decided to join a B school and in 2010 I joined a decent B-school in Hyderabad (Institute of Public enterprise). That year they started a new program for executives and my online and offline research suggested that this was the best option I have.
I met my batch mates during induction and felt there was right synergy and I could learn from them, as they come from different work background. My objective of joining a B-School was not to get a better paying job but to gain enough insights about business and use that knowledge to launch my own startup. My imagination and expectation was very high from school and here is what I saw in reality.
|Practical and real-time learning||Books were the only source of learning|
|You will be taught by entrepreneurs themselves||Only academicians where teaching. They had zero knowledge on entrepreneurship|
|This will help me to launch my own business||This might only help you to land on to your next job|
|Case study and discussion based learning||Only books and guides. Only focus is to get you better grades|
It was my 2nd or 3rd month in the program; I started feeling that I am wasting my time. Professors daily come and teach what is written in books. Technically if you read through all the books, you do not have to attend a class. One fine day I felt this is of no use and decided to drop off from the school.
It was a tough decision and my family was not happy about it, however it was my call to decide what to do next. Though I do not come from technology background, I had great inclination towards simplifying healthcare with innovative technology. While I was in B school I learnt a bit of HTML from “Google School”, bought a domain and hosted it myself. I wanted to create a platform for patients to interact with doctors online.
In early 2010 I started the portal by engaging one doctor to chat with patients. Response was good and through word of mouth we started receiving more customers daily, as it was free to use. We wanted to monetize that by adding payment option, but there were only two payment gateways in the country and they said they couldn’t give an API to us. Meanwhile we realized that chatting is not feasible , as patient was taking 20-30 minutes to chat and doctor was not able to handle such long chats. By hiring more doctors we will eventually end up in losses. I immediately changed the model to a phone based service (Dialurdoctor.com now called evaidya.com) and discontinued chat. E-commerce was evolving very fast in 2010 and we were able to get a payment partner but people paying online were pretty less.
Managing finance was a big challenge as I hired nearly 6 people and all the money I had perished in 6 months, I started hunting for investors and reached out to few Venture capital firms. One of it was sequoia capital, I interacted with a lady called Taru kapoor and she advised me to look for angel investor before going for a VC. In next two months I has 2 angel interactions and one was successful. As we moved on, the business changed many directions and faced multiple challenges. I exited my first company in mid 2015. Being a first time entrepreneur I had gone though lot of learning cycle. All the success stories are fun to read but the real learning happens from failures and real startup is all about how many times you fail and yet stand strong.
In the last 5 years
“I made many mistakes and every mistake built a better me,
I faced many challenges and each new challenge built vigor in me,
Every time I fell down, I bounced back with twice the pace.
Every Time I am puzzled with a new problem my brain started finding solutions faster ever,
All The knowledge and the experience I gained in last 5 years of startup journey built an asset in me”
This transformation in me would have not been possible if I had chosen to pursue my MBA 5 years back.
If you are thinking of spending 10-15 lacks to pursue your MBA from a good B-School, Think again! You can use the same money to launch your startup and gain better knowledge than an MBA.