Serendipity with Amit Ranjan


By Sahiba Sethi and Kumar Tanmay

If you have ever seen Amit Ranjan’s picture, you can’t ignore when you come across him. That’s his charm. It’s inexplicable. You got to experience it first hand. Here is a teaser about our experience.

We are shameless in meeting people. However, we were surprised that Cofounder of Slideshare and Director of LinkedIn sits in the same café as we for shaping the future of amazing startups he invests in. We were under a notion that multi-million deals happen in star hotels. (Thank God, saved few thousands before we raise our first round! The next time we don’t have to account for the coffee expenses in our investment pitch! I am serious.)

We had made our mind, the next time we see him we are going to steal a moment out of his schedule. While he was regular to SDA, we always saw him occupied in his meetings with a gentle smile on his face. But not long until one fine evening when we were just coming out from Chaayos cafe we saw him placing his request at Costa. We right away went ahead and said, “Hi Amit, we are really fond of you and it would be pleasure to talk to you and learn” and then he was really kind to give us his precious time to share our experiments.

We never felt meeting a man whom the Government of India has roped in to develop the next generation products for the nation. He was candid enough to inform us that he was early for a meeting so we could chat. It was totally unexpected and out of the world feeling for us that we have actually managed to steal a moment in our very first meeting. He could have easily asked us to meet next time citing his meeting then. For his credentials, anyone would believe him without any doubt. However, great people are more approachable than those who have tasted success without much struggle (we have experienced it in our own circle!).

We spent memorable 25 minutes, and we got a direction with a very important input that changed the entire direction of our start up. We have come across quotes and blogs that success comes to those who listen more and then respond (and not talk!). Amit Ranjan is one of the few who is a living example of being an excellent listener. And last but not the least, he offered us his coffee and snacks too! He never took a bite till we left and if we recall it right; he did not touch his coffee either. Even though he was listening to us all the while, his eating would not have diluted the essence of an unscheduled-meeting. We learned an important lesson of mutual respect for humans no matter who one is.

We have tried our best not to judge the man behind making our lives easier with Slideshare and LinkedIn. It’s our bit that we are doing to pay our gratitude for his invaluable contribution to our lives without knowing who we are. We are mere human beings!


To the man whom Bill Gates paid a surprise visit

bill gates

By Sahiba Sethi and Kumar Tanmay

The world doesn’t stops to amaze us because there are beautiful human beings around us. If it was Dharamveer last time, today it is Abhishek Sinha, CoFounder, Eko who shared his precious time and invaluable experience with us. It was a long desire to meet him in person for the lives he has impacted at the bottom of the pyramid. The curiosity and desire to meet him reached its zenith when we learnt about Bill Gates surprisingly visiting Eko’s office few years ago! Today we were fortunate enough to meet the three guys we have heard about at Eko – Abhishek, Abhinav and Anupam Varghese.

Tanmay recognised Anupam Varghese, who heads Technology at Eko, almost after 6 years at the entrance. He had first heard about Eko through Anupam because of the faith he had then in bringing banking solutions to the poor. We couldn’t have been greeted better if it was not he – he dropped us to the lift leading to the office and he wasn’t heading to the office then. We were humbled because we were mere strangers.

Before we head into Eko’s beautiful office, we see the picture of the man who is on a mission to improves lives of poor across the globe with the entire Eko team – Mr Bill Gates. You cannot ignore it! Abhinav Sinha, Cofounder was courteous enough to greet us at the entrance just as any guest would visit his home.

And then entered the one whom we had been waiting to meet for years – Abhishek Sinha, who gave us an appointment to meet at short notice. The serenity on his face leaves you speechless. We had a small conversation over the phone last morning and later he showered his praise upon us. I don’t know for what, I couldn’t believe it. But when he spoke the same words looking into our eyes today, we understood we are somewhere doing something right.

Abhishek is a very humble, helpful and courteous human being. We were really amazed with the way he makes a person feel good and important. According to him the following things should be kept in the mind before starting up –

  1. There should be a free trade zone – Don’t do your first business interfering/ partnering to change government regulations.
  2. Technology – Use it to the fullest. Think of processes where fewer people and paper is used.
  3. Rapid scale – Cash burn is light and scalability should be viral, it should have a network effect.
  4. Mobile first business like Whatsapp – Don’t do business with a particular niche, do it with the masses. 
  5. Most important of all –  Daily watch Guy Kawasaki’s video on Art of Start.

He said that you should never over think about an idea, just go and talk to the paying customers and understand the problem, dig deeper into the problem. I remember Abhinav and I doing two night-outs and writing 30-35 ideas, then selected one and working on that. Success is about persistence and perseverance, for some it comes early and for some it might take time. But if you have jumped off the cliff then you’re bound to succeed today or tomorrow. Just stick to it. You learn from other peoples mistake and your own failures, try and learn more from others mistakes, don’t do what wrong I did, never ever repeat a mistake.

At the end of our conversation, we observed a common behaviour at Eko. If Anupam had dropped us to the lift directing to their office, Abhinav greeted us at the entrance. At the end of our conversation and to our utter surprise Abhishek, the CEO saw us off till the lift and we were again speechless because we have never been shown such an immense respect. I don’t have words to describe it but I came across a company made of beautiful human beings.

Last but not the least, we were gifted a book “Startup Sutra”. Our happiness has no boundaries today. It’s just the beginning, we will keep sharing the experiences of fantastic people we have met and are meeting in our journey.

P.S: Abhishek, Abhinav and Tanmay are alma maters of BIT, Mesra.

startup sutra

Our learning from Dharamveer Singh, cofounder of Zostel

By Sahiba Sethi and Kumar Tanmay

Our journey cannot be what it is today because of awesome people we have met till date, especially in last couple of months. We have made sure that we keep on meeting good people and keep ourselves in company of awesome people. We learn from them and implement without wasting time. And trust me we have not seen the results yet, however we have enjoyed the process.

Many of them have been generous enough to spare their precious time for us for interviews and without keeping us waiting. They have reaffirmed that success comes with humility. Few have disappointed us too, might be they didn’t take us seriously. We don’t mind, we are and shall always remain grateful to all whom we have met. And hence we thought of writing about some of the amazing ones we have met in last few days.

We start with Dharamveer, Co-founder of Zostel. He is generous enough and invited us straight to his office on the same day. It was a short but a worthy meeting. What we learned from him that he wants to be known as a good human being first and then a successful entrepreneur. He believes in succeeding each day because success is not a destination rather a journey.

Keeping people happy and focused in the team is a necessity and that’s where the culture exists. There is no culture in building and teaching protocols. I believe keeping people happy in his team has made him approachable and we need no proof for that. His message to us :-

“I can’t say that I’m generous in helping startups but yes I do it for myself it makes me happy. But, good to see your persistence for meeting quickly. I do get a lot of people calling, but when I push them around they lose the passion easily. Keep going hard, keep yourself motivated, form an impeccable team. Above all keep taking risks. You’ll love the way you live your life. There’s no success that is to be chased. Success is in each day, which keeps you motivated to work hard and have a peaceful night sleep.

It’s the journey much more than the end. I don’t understand at all, why do people ever get tensed? Like ever! If you just think 2 steps ahead, there’s nothing worse that can happen! It’s stupid.  Specially hate that intelligent people run for placements! That’s just so stupid.  I mean It’s just too exciting and too short to be anything but awesome. Good luck to you guys.

I do hope to create more. At least inspire someone! I used to take out time to write earlier for the same but now don’t get time”.

We wish to meet Dharamveer sooner; learn and share more.

By the way, the best way to conclude is his fantastic piece of writing. Take a look, we read it one go. Don’t forget to thank Dharamveer Singh Chouhan