i to ikigai

I don’t know what an entrepreneur should know, I don’t have what an entrepreneur should have, I do know what an entrepreneur can do, So I do what people say no to.

Sounds very philosophical and overtly ambitious… Right ? But the baniya blood flowing through my veins resonate closely with this thought. L.N. Mittal, Ambani Brothers, or the Flipkart Bansal duo would be proud if they read this.


|| The Break-Up

I come from an era where you knock at any door and you would find a man with his chest held high, shoveling his moustaches and proudly proclaiming, “My son is an engineer plus an MBA.” Perhaps the perfect combo an ideal mother-in-law would

Well, a non-IITian guy, working as a software engineer with India’s beloved startup Infosys Ltd, decided to leave the corporate buffet and eat ghar ki roti.

Reason ?

I was doubtful of my marriage with programming language. So I divorced her within a few years.

|| Aye! It’s our Baby

My new job or should I say my new girlfriend was actually interesting. I use to spend 8 hours with her and thereafter I had ample amount of time to do nothing than ruminate over the purpose of my life. I felt I was already sitting on the tip of Maslow’s pyramid. Gosh !! Overthinking is infectious.

I didn’t know what I was doing with my life but all I knew was that I am working with a bunch of buffoons, making my ends meet, living up to an unwanted societal image, but contended to work as a soft skills trainer- the only thing that kept this relationship going. Things happen when you really want them to happen.

With a common vision, mutual trust, and a combative spirit, I was lucky to have my college friend cum colleague Sukhleen Arora to share and mutually work on our idea. A girl who loves math more than anything else had the courage to leave Accenture to do what makes her happy. So logically, we both were happy with what we were doing but not how we were doing it.

As Prof. Safal Batra (Strategy) says, 71% of startups happen from the learning you had from your past job experiences. We soon became a part of that percentage.

While working in a university as a trainer, we understood that education is free from recession, coaching industry is lucrative, and above all, we loved what we were doing. So, we started with a small coaching class (ain’t a wow idea, but wait there is more to come…). Training the engineering graduates for competitive exams was our domain. We had 2 batches running, one in the morning & the other in the evening and we were working from a happy 8 hours to an exhaustive 16 hours/day.

So, FRC Classes (don’t ask us the full form, we have been hiding it since ages) was born in a 10 by 10 sq. ft. room (literally). With a handful of kids, we grew in number with time but the brick and mortar model did not entice us anymore. We completed the running batches and meanwhile decided to leave our fulltime job and give more time to our baby.

|| She’s expecting. Again.

Within one-year of leaving our job, we had covered six states across the country, had trained thousands of students on skills required for campus to corporate transition and had earned lots of experience & goodwill. The learning from our classes at IIM was practically implemented. We realized that doing a business could be learnt, provided you really want to make a difference.

As luck would have it, we came across an opportunity and voila ! We became a company and were rechristened to ikigai learning private limited. Ikigai is a beautiful Japanese word which means “…..” (umm.. Google it (:) With months of rigorous brainstorming, valuable inputs from Prof. Kunal Shandilya (Finance) & Prof. Rajat Sharma (Marketing), we successfully completed our presentation that we were going to pitch in front of the honorable members of BRICS CCI (Chamber of Commerce & Industry).

Trust me, as a trainer we have never been so nervous than we were while pitching our idea in front of those industry giants. It was like a war cry. Do or Die.

Our training model is a welcoming change for industries, academia & students. While industries are able to drastically reduce the cost of hiring & training, the academia will be able to spur their placement records and students would be able to get a coveted job in one of the best organizations across the world. With our synergies in sync, the proposal was appreciated. One might imagine that signing a contract with BRICS CCI for a multi-million project is like waking up one morning as Paris Hilton.

Yes! We had started really small; we literally bootstrapped like a penny-pincher baniya, had even gone to the extent to cut down on meals to save money (…this ain’t exaggeration) but today as things begin to connect we feel ‘good’. This ‘good-good’ feeling is way above the momentarily feeling we once had when our cell phone use to beep -“Dear Customer, Your Ac XXXXXXXXXXX8668 is credited with INR… ”

For all those who are still wondering, we aren’t born with a silver/gold/platinum spoon, we neither have the best brains in the country, nor we have Vijay Mallya’s wit, but all that we have is a ray of “hope” that keeps us going. Trust us, just keep chasing. Playing Tom & Jerry LIVE is fun, though scary too! What we have read in books is turning out to be a reality. Pitch book, venture capitalists, marketing plans, lifetransforming ideas, all are shaping up. Ah… What more to say than to work & to pray. Life is expecting for more. Again.


The article is being shared by Ikigai Learning Private Limited , a venture of Divas Gupta and Sukhleen Arora  IIM Kashipur EPGP Students.


Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *