In this special segment with STW, we meet some incredible dreamers, who decided they did not just want to sit around and wait for something to happen to them, but took matters into their own hands. It’s not easy following a passion, it comes with a lot of risk and sacrifice. We hear from some folks, about what makes this all worth it. We speak to young entrepreneurs and seasoned professionals, who made a brave decision to solve a problem. Read on for this ‘Ode to Entrepreneurs’.
Naresh Shetti is a science graduate from Goa. Here is his story. He started off with a dream as a young college student and saw it through, despite the most trying of times. (as told to Shruti Bharath)
When in college, I never knew what I was doing, just like most other youth in this country. Our only intention was to ‘pass out ‘. We did not think beyond the next day of receiving our final year results.
But there was this day when an animation company had come to my college to give a presentaion about a career in 3D animation. That interested me and I got inclined towards it, only to realise that the field was not the best choice in India in 2002. But the creative bug had infected me and I was on a look out for something in the creative field. I moved to Bangalore in search of life.
To sustain myself I took up a job in a BPO and continued my part time courses in film making, design software learning, photography and more. Cost of living in Bangalore was high compared to Goa and earning and living all by yourself was turning out to be very difficult. I had to keep moving BPO jobs to sustain my courses of interest. I then joined a bigger BPO where I opted for a night shift so that I could do a part time with a senior photographr and learn the tricks of the trade. I learnt photography and was now equipped to take up assignments. But soon realised that it was an expensive profession and it might not be possible for me to be a photography businessman. I therefore wanted to learn the tricks of advertising. I quit the part time photo studio and joined an advertising firm. I used to spend about 4-5 hours of my time at a small time ad firm in Vasantnagar, trying to understand and learn from live projects. I remember how much I got yelled at for not being able to make a table in one of the design works. All the while I still worked at the BPO in the nights. My schedule was night shift in a BPO, then go home and sleep for about 4 hours and then work at the agency for 4 hours before my BPO cab came to pick me up . I worked for free at the agency for about 8 months.
After I had a decent portfolio, I started looking for a full time job in design. I got a break in a software company as a designer. So I quit my BPO job, I quit my agency part time and had a job that paid me enough to sustain myself. However this happiness was a short lived as my company was acquired and I lost my job after 10 months of working. I had realised that working at an IT firm in the design department was still not getting me anywhere in terms of quality of work. Jobless now, I was looking for a full time job in an agency. But with my given experience and a shabby portfolio the big players never liked me, but a small firm offered me a job at merely half the pay. I took it up as that was the only option then. Another year in that small company and I moved to a bigger name in advertising.
2 years later I wanted to venture out by myself so I quit and became a full time freelance professional. A year later I started my own company called nlights dot me.
What made me step out and freelance?
When I worked with the small agency, I never liked my work, I always wanted to be by myself, I didn’t want anyone pointing at me or directing me on what to do. I had a great boss, but had a craze to be my own. It lead me to quit a good paying job.
Side effects of working alone? you can’t bounce of ideas, if you have no meetings you are hardly seeing another human being, there have been days when I never spoke a word the whole day. I then realized I cant work alone. So I packed up from Bangalore and went back to Goa, my home town thinking I will try and start something there and stay with my family.
Business didnt pick up and I was left shattered. Money was running out and I wanted to so something. I started looking for a job again, but somehow destiny had something else in store. The jobs didn’t work out. Suddenly all my old business contacts from Bangalore started missing me. They had assignments for me. This made me come back to Bangalore. An old friend and me then started this venture, by accident we’d like to think.
it so happened that we went to meet a client and the client demanded company documents. The friend confidently said “yes, you will have it in a couple of days.” I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t even know what all goes into making a company. I thought the best bid would be to register something in my home town Goa. I made a few calls and in 2 days my company was set up with the bank account. 🙂
We are now over a year old and are already doing great work with a few good MNC’s and some local business. We are on a journey now. looking forward to making it big and we are sure we will be able to make it.
Something I learnt over these 10 years
Every human being is important. Never ignore a contact, never be judgmental. I remember how some of the people I met in my early years have helped in present day business for me. So never miss an opportunity to meet anyone. I love to meet new people, no matter who they are and what their profession is.
Respect your employees, and all your vendors. It’s your duty to bring out the best in them, not just challenge them and demotivate them. Be calm, do not shout or yell at anything.
Money is important. I learnt this the hard way. If you believe in that then money wont care for you. I have suffered a lot with this attitude. Now I respect money, I love money, I want to earn a lot of money, but I wont do anything wrong, for money.
Respect yourself and your work. I have come across a lot of people and clients who have put forward their tragic stories to get a discount on your work. If you empathize they will sit on your head and then you are lost in frustration and for under cutting your price.
Stick to you word . If your promise something please do it. DO it for yourself and not for anyone else. No matter who the client, or your servicing team, all you need to do is work for yourself. This is my motivation and that’s how my company name which means ‘I work for myself, this is what enlightens me’ works. So we called it nlights dot me (with a little quirky angle)’
Follow your heart to take decisions and execute with your brain.
STW gives Naresh Shetti a big high five! One for hanging in there and two for doing such an amazing job!