My first Startup venture
“2000 rupees ! you are in final year now, you should learn the value of money”
It’s never easy to pitch your startup idea, especially when the angel investor is your dad.
3 days before this discussion I was negotiating with the bookbinding guy for the 3 copies of my Project.
“it will be 500 rupees per copy.”
” 2 rupees for black and white and 10 rupees for color page, and 50 rupees for binding”
“What if I only need binding?”
“Then it will be 100 rupees”
“What if I will give you 100 copies to bind?”
The binding guy was smiling but I was serious.
“What’s your final offer?”
“If you bring 200 project reports for binding, I will do it for 50 rupees”
“Deal.” I shook hands and walked out.
I had no clue what I just did but I just got a burning problem of all final year students which I can solve in the next 15 days before the final submission of the project.
“So you are saying we don’t have to go to the binding shop, no follow-ups, don’t have to pay for designing our pages, and you will be delivering the project reports to us in college, all that in 400 rupees”
Sneha (name changed) was very sure I will be losing money in this business.
“Yes, but only if you convince all your classmates, hostel mates, I need minimum of 100 orders.”
Now I can say that was my first ever “product” demo. I met 10 of my other friends who were from different colleges. I got around 40 project reports to deliver.
The bookbinding guy was known to delay the project reports and his shop was 10 km away from the main city, so students, especially female students want to avoid follow-ups. This was 2005 when students were not having access to cellphones, at least in my small city.
Now, I had two challenges :
- Making profit with my first venture
- Arranging funds to start the operations from tomorrow, as the project submission date is in 2 weeks.
” What will you do with 2000 rupees? Have you not saved money from your part-time job? How can you spend the whole 600 rupees every month and not save a penny? “
My dad knew I was doing a part-time job on weekends at a computer shop where I used to assemble desktops and accompany my boss in remote villages nearby every alternate Saturday to repair old computers in their computer labs. 600 rupees for 4 weekends was a handsome salary for me as that was enough for my expenses.
“Dad, I have 1000 rupees, I need 2000 rupees more to arrange a printer, 2 bottles of printing ink and A4 sized paper.And I will return the money in 2 weeks if…Ok I will surely return the money in 2 weeks I promise.” I don’t want to discuss the risks with my angel investor.
I spent 2000 rupees and bought all the stuff required.It took me 2 days to design the pages and align the text, pictures, codes of all 40 project reports.
For the next 3 days, 18 hours a day, that printer printed about 5000 sheets of paper.
Now, because I miscalculated the amount of ink and paper, I was facing a resource crunch in my first product delivery.
My problem Statement was: How to get the remaining 10000 pages printed in 1000 rupees?
Luckily I had printed all the color pages required so it was just the black and white pages.
Can there be any alternative solution to printing? Xerox…Yes…let me try.
The next day, I went to the Xerox shop who recently bought a new Xerox machine.
“How much for 10000 copies from this machine ?”
“25 paise per copy”
It was like Superman finding kryptonite. He was ready to start the job with 1000 rupees advance.
Now again, I have a big problem, how to deliver the 5000 pages to the Xerox guy. I called my friend, who had a car. Thank god I have good friends.
120 project reports were ready for binding. After some rounds of negotiations with the binding guy, he agreed and delivered the product on time.
And next day my logistics guy and I delivered the product in 3 colleges.
Sudhanshu, thanks for the reports, but we doubt your business skills as the printer only costs around 3000 rupees, and with paper, ink, binding, did you make anything from last 15 days of hard work?”
“I think so …”
My strategy : I bought a 600 rupee “printer head” instead of a new printer, fixed it with a printer I borrowed from the electronics dump from one of the schools, bought local printing ink, definitely 15 days of hard work, I made about 15000 rupees.
What did I learn from this 15-day entrepreneur journey?
- Now I knew, I can make big money with my skills. Believe me its an amazing experience for a 22-year-old.
- Good people support you if you are trying to solve a burning problem.
Thanks to Salim Bhai ( the binding guy ), Mishra Sir ( Computer teacher who allowed me to borrow the old printer from school’s electronic dump ), Gupta Ji ( the Xerox guy who trusted me with 1500 rupees ) and my friend Shriyansh Sharma (with his car who helped me to deliver the project reports).
And yes, I returned the 2000 rupees to my Proud Dad and paid the Xerox guy as well on time.
I think after that day, my dad was never worried about my career. 🙂
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Know more about Author: Sudhanshu Jain