There are stories of achievers. Then there are stories of misfits. And then, there are stories of achievers who somehow struggle to fit in the pre-designed destination all their hard-work has got them to.
Nitesh has one such story. He is that adarsh ‘IIT – Kanpur, IIM – Calcutta’ guy. The guy with a profile that paints to us a picture of him getting placed on day zero during campus placements. But here is a smudge, a disturbing, unconventional smudge.
Born and brought up in Jaipur, Nitesh comes from a ‘simple, conventional family’, as he puts it.
“My father is a television operating expert and my mother is a homemaker. My younger brother is currently studying computer science at Delhi Technological University”
To start the conversation, I ask the usual – ‘So what’s up?’
“Right now, I am doing my summer internship”
“In my own startup”
This is Nitesh’s second startup – Appeti.
“After my graduation, I joined Hero Motor Corp. By the second year, frustration aane laga. Kuch khud ka karne ka keeda toh tha hi, so I started up an edu-tech startup with a friend at the same company. We re-located to Bangalore, tried a lot but it didn’t work out”
“Were there any reasons you identified?”
“Yeah, four reasons – we didn’t have any entrepreneurial experience, lack of funds, lack of expertise and had a product for which the market wasn’t ready. We were in a really bad situation and best option then was to shut down and move on.”
When Nitesh and his friend shut down, there was no immediate plan B.
“Everyone in the society thought I was earning really well since I had graduated from IIT-Kanpur. That wasn’t really the case. But I told my parents that I will do whatever, but will never ask them for money. Uss chakkar mein, pichle 2 saal mein bohot udhaar lia hai dosto ka”
Nitesh’s tone, at this particular moment too, is confident. Nothing that’d add sentimental meat to this story. I ask him if he isn’t afraid about returning the loans.
A foodie himself, Nitesh tells me how he’d cringe every time he couldn’t get food he got craving for.
“Kanpur tha, tab Jaipur ke khaane ki yaad ati thi. Gurgaon gaya toh Kanpur ke ‘thaggu ke laddo’ miss karta tha. It troubled me every time I had to compromise on my craving just because I was at a different location”
What do you do when something troubles you SO MUCH? You start with something that solves it.
Appeti is an online market place where you can order authentic regional delicacies, being anywhere in India, and the team ensures to deliver them right at your doorstep. So next time you get a craving for Mysore Pak, Dodha Burfi of Ludhiana, or the famous Ooty Chocolates or the famous Shankar Namkeen or Pachranga Achaar of Panipat, you don’t have to compromise anymore.
“I pitched the idea to my mama, Narendra Prajapat, who is a Chartered Accountant by profession and his boss Rakesh Garg. They loved it and gave us space at their office in Bandra Kurla Center and invested in the idea. Gradually my friends – Navin Gupta and Shivendra Yadav joined in as co-founders”
*secretly wishing for a mama like him*
“So you had already started something, got really good support, why did you even appear for CAT?”
At this point, I was very curious. There’s a reason why companies pay a good amount to people who get out of these B – schools. The reason is – ability to work hard and use certain functions of this brilliant in-built app in our bodies called brain. Why would someone want to put that much effort while already doing well?
“Uski bhi alag hi kahani hai – I fell very sick when I was in Bangalore and was called back home. I had no immediate plan. My parents asked me appear for CAT, which was to be conducted a month later and so I did, because I wasn’t doing anything anyway. Mazak mazak mein CAT nikal gaya, covert hogaya, call letter ghar pahucha parents ke pass, fir toh aap jaante hi ho..”
Having friends in ‘proposed institutions of national importance‘ (that’s how we tease people from premier colleges at our office, and so does MHRD), I hear a lot about erratic, hectic schedules and insane pressures students are subjected to. And so, I ask.
“How do you manage a startup along with your studies?”
“It isn’t rocket science really. My motive to get to IIM-C wasn’t about getting placed, this was clear from day 1. So I don’t really bother much about preparing for interviews and internships. Scores bhi unko matter karta hai jinko resume mein likhna hai, mujhe woh load nahi hai. I get a lot of time that ways”
He tells me that his focus to get here was to get into the right kind of network.
“The kind of students and professors you get to connect with at a college like IIM-C, is phenomenal. Personally, their insights have made me shift my perspectives for better on a lot of things related to my company. And of course, the IIM tag helps.”
Nitesh tells me how supportive his faculty at college is.
“It took me a lot of efforts to convince the IIM – C management to allow me to work in my own startup for summer internship. I’d anyway not be as dedicated if I took up internship at any other company. Eventually, they agreed.”
Appeti’s team currently works out of BKC.
“I shuffle between Joka and Mumbai at least 2 times a month. Pehle do-do long-distance relationship chala chuka hu, manage ho jata hai”
While it is a testing time for food startups, Nitesh has satiated over 500 taste-buds by the end of 2015 and has plans to expand in over 25 cities in the coming months.
“What if this comes in the way of your studies?”
“Other way round – studies might come in the way of my venture, and the day it does, I will not have second thoughts about leaving the college”
While we are about to end the phone conversation, there comes a cute, little request from the other side,
“Am going to be with my parents for a next few days. Is it possible if you can publish the story then? I want to see them reading it.”
Sure, sir 🙂
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