Annkur is another of my friends I made via Twitter, a hard core entrepreneur. Whenever I am muddled about something related to my startup he is one of the few people I go to for advise. Something unique about him is that he started his own ventures from the very young age of 15.

Business: PriceBaba, a location based search engine

What is the most significant difference you see in yourself as an entrepreneur now after all these years of experience?
Thank you for asking this Priyanka. It makes me think. I would try and put down what I think has changed, but I wish I can go back and ask some of my life coaches who have seen me evolve. Unfortunately there isn’t any one person who has seen the entire journey with me 🙁

After about 11 years of work, the biggest change is within me. I can’t be sure if it is just running my own business, I was 15 when I started working (probably 14), I have had some life altering experiences and setbacks. Any teenager would change in a decade. For me it has been accelerated and intense. There are several changes, some of which are still happening. Here are a few:

– I don’t fear monetary loss anymore. Having been close to bankrupt a few times, the fear of losing money or letting go some money on the table doesn’t bother me as much.
– I take an extremely long term view on things. Be it business or relationships. It scares me when I don’t see things working in the long run. I don’t look to make a quick buck.
– This has been true for a while, but I rely more than ever on my intuition. In absence of enough data (which often is the case in life), I rely very heavily on my gut feel.
– The most important of course is, I part ways amicably. It no longer is necessary for me to have the emotional or moral win when things go wrong.
– I trust. It is way too personal, but I trust people more than before.

Backstory:  I am revealing this for the first time, but I was once caught cheating in a school exam (5th grade). I was helping a friend and a girl told the supervisor. I stopped trusting at that point. I never spoke to her again. I closed myself. The only good thing that came out of it was, I stopped caring about exams too. I never copied again (maybe once), wrote several of my university papers within an hour during HSC / TY-BMS (Graduation) and didn’t care about the results. It took me several years to realise the impact of that moment. I promise myself to do better now.
– I also fall in love with this poem every time I read it,

Learn with Every GoodBye

After a while you learn the subtle difference

Between holding a hand and chaining a soul

And you learn that love doesn’t mean security,

And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts

And presents aren’t promises.

And you begin to accept your defeats

With your head up and your eyes open,

With the grace of an adult, not the grief of a child.

And you learn to build all your roads on today,

Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain.

And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn that even sunshine

Burns if you get too much.

So you plant your own garden and decorate

Your own soul, instead of waiting

For someone to bring you flowers

And you learn that you really can endure.
That you really are strong,

And you really do have worth

And you learn and learn and learn.

With every goodbye you learn.

By, V Shofstall / J Borges / Unknown

There are also things I think I am still learning:
– Leading a team. Every time the team grows, I see a huge gap in my leadership skills
– Anger and Stress management. I have improved, but miles to go
– Working with people I don’t like. Inevitably I need to do that at times, I find it hard to learn

What led you to prefer the idea of starting your own venture as opposed to a job?
I never had the choice. I started right out of school while I was still studying. So there was no job opportunity. Though if I remember correctly, I did do a part time job at a cyber cafe during my summer vacation sometime around 2002-2003. Against the promise made, I never got paid for it, I was heartbroken. Anyway, to answer your question, I am not averse to the idea of a job. I would do what I love, be it my own venture or started by someone else 🙂

Your startup PriceBaba was recently chosen in the 500 startups accelerator. You are most looking forward to?
Looking forward to a lot of things. Learning from the amazing founders at 500 Startups, building a sustainable business and give back what I can in this short duration to the Mecca of Startups.
Also a bit of clarification, while chosen is the right term, many people think of this as a ‘contest’ or ‘lottery’. It isn’t that! 500 Startups like our team / product / business and chose to invest in us. It is a business decision and merit based. Though I do love the way 500Startups does angel investing. Pankaj Jain, Dave McClure, Paul Singh –  they understand angel investing and internet businesses. It is hard to find that in India.

What would you like to say to anyone who is considering taking the plunge into starting up?
Think twice. Plan. Plan more. Look back once. Jump. Don’t ever look back.

How important is it and how can a startup create a distinct brand?
Very. I have made consumer brands, but I think this holds true for enterprise businesses as well. You create a brand that has its own aura, it would be distinct by itself.

Success secrets?
Integrity. Do what you say, by the time you say you will do it. This also includes what you promised to yourself 🙂

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