What have I learned in last 10 months?

From registering the domain name www.internshala.com on 29/12/10 to writing this blog today, it has been one hell of a ride.

The above is an understatement. I remember seeing When was the last time you did something for the first time? on someone’s facebook wall sometime back. And the answer, for last 10 months, has been just today! And that sums it up. From starting a blog back in January, to quitting a full time job to work out of a 8*10 hole (picture below), it has been all about learning something new EVERYDAY. Today, I want to talk about 2 biggest learnings that I have had so far –

1. The world is full of people who want to help: – Yes, its also full of people who may want to cheat, do it wrong way; but why focus on minority. Majority of us, I believe and have found, are genuinely interested in helping a fellow human being.

When I started Internshala, I knew nothing about setting up a web portal, did not have a facebook account, had done no press & media, knew none of the 200+ organizations that have used Internshala till date, and the only student that I knew looking for an internship was my own cousin. The words like entrepreneurship, stake holding, angel investors, VC funding, company incorporation were distant and at times scary dreams. But we did move needle a bit in last 10 months and how was this made possible?

All I did was to reach out to friends and strangers with a question that I may have been looking an answer to and hoped they would help. And boy, help they did! Be it Khushroo at Indianblooddonors.com, Deepinder at zomato.com, Roshan at mindstix.com, Apurv at Pagalguy.com, Ankit at gyancentral.com, Pranay at CIIE-Ahmedabad, Meera & Pooja from The Hindu & HT Cafe, Himanshu at IBM, Aparna and Somna in Hyderabad, Vaishnavi & Surya in Mumbai, or the entire IIT Madras support system (faculty, students, and alumni), the list is practically endless. And why did they help? It was not as if they were getting something out of it and neither I knew them upfront – they helped because they wanted to. As simple as that.

Friends of course (again the list is endless and they know who they are) chipped in with whatever they could and that made a huge difference. I personally feel that there is a VERY strong eco-system that exists today for an idea to take shape of reality and for a start up to take wings. So remember, whenever you need help, just shout! Someone somewhere would hear it and echo back with a solution – just keep your ears and eyes open!

2. As a start up, your team is the ONLY asset that you have – so invest in it. And investing does not necessarily mean money (you will not have much of it anyway) but time!

In first couple of months, I was caught up in the dilemma of whether to outsource most of the operations and execute rest of it myself as I wanted things to move fast. Finding a co-founder and building a team felt like such a herculean and time consuming task. I was afraid that I would spend all my time meeting up people and not do anything on setting up the website; but  again better sense prevailed.

Today with a team of 14 members in place (a mix of interns, free lancers, friends who chip in part time, and active mentors), I can safely say that the investment pays off. A team not only helps you execute quicker, but more importantly helps you stay on track for the long term vision. I have had my fair share of moments of self-doubt, desperation, and frustration and reaching out to someone in the team (more often than not its either of Ankur, Chaitanya or Ashish who plays the Agony Aunt), helps you de-stress and re-energize.

Another lesson that I have learned about team building is to hire only the best (preferably youngsters with zero or minimal experience but tonnes of intelligence and fire in the belly), indoctrinate them into the vision, and let them loose. You may be surprised by the unleashed collective creativity of the team.

These are my 2 cents. Would be great to hear from fellow start up visitors on what have been their top 2 or 3 learnings in the initial days of starting up. I will keep updating the list as I learn more. As promised, a picture of Internshala’s first office is below. I really wish I had got ourselves a garage – that seems to be a prerequisite for a successful venture, or atleast it sounds so much cooler than a store room!

You may also like

19 thoughts on “What have I learned in last 10 months?

  • November 5, 2011 at 4:31 PM

    :)

    Reply
  • November 6, 2011 at 9:10 AM

    Very inspiring.

    Reply
    • November 7, 2011 at 11:01 PM

      Thanks, glad to hear from you again :)

      Reply
  • November 7, 2011 at 10:34 AM

    Nice Sir , and all the very best :)

    Reply
  • November 13, 2011 at 1:50 AM

    Insanely inspiring sir… :)
    esp. ” whenever you need help,…..just keep your ears and eyes open!”
    keep motivating us like dis.
    Wish u all d very best for ur future endeavors..:)

    Reply
    • November 19, 2011 at 6:03 PM

      :) Thanks.

      Reply
  • November 13, 2011 at 2:27 AM

    :) x 100…… keep up the good work Sarvesh..

    Reply
  • November 13, 2011 at 2:27 AM

    and congrats for ur achievements till date..

    Reply
    • November 19, 2011 at 6:04 PM

      Thanks :). You all deserve the credit! Cheers to more to come :)

      Reply
  • November 13, 2011 at 2:28 AM

    the graph seems to have touched peaks :)

    Reply
  • November 19, 2011 at 11:18 PM

    what u said s exactly correct sir..
    I wish u all the best in ur every step of ur life….
    Ths site s very helpful for us.
    Thank u sirrrrrr……..

    Reply
  • November 27, 2011 at 10:49 PM

    Great stuff! keep rocking

    Reply
  • January 29, 2012 at 4:01 PM

    Definitely feel you on this one. It really is the team, the support system that exists to make such a venture happen. I am a student in the US, originally from India, I run an education reform organization in Ahmedabad and we’ve had a ton of trouble finding institutions interested in partnering with us in Ahmedabad although we’ve had a ton of support in the US. Might that just be an Ahmedabad thing or are we missing something on the networking/connecting part of the puzzle?

    Any insight?

    Reply
    • February 8, 2012 at 7:37 PM

      Though it would be difficult for me to comment without knowing specific of your venture and the troubles you faced but yes as you may have found out, people is US are far more open to new ideas and you can work your way up through sheer hard work. Here in India, we prefer status quo or need a shoulder to step on to the success ladder.

      However, in my experience things are changing for better. More and more youngsters are taking to entrepreneurship which I think is a good sign. As an entrepreneur you are more likely to have respect for another one trying something new and society as a whole benefits.

      Feel free to write more on sarvesh@internshala.com if you would like to exchange notes.

      Many thanks
      Sarvesh
      LinkedIn – http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=3932887
      facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Internshala

      Reply
  • March 12, 2012 at 9:57 AM

    hats off to your hardwork…
    wish..!!! i was a part of ur team…

    Reply
  • April 26, 2012 at 10:35 PM

    It’s great to read something so inspiring and motivational, especially from a person who has been there and is already on the same journey which you so wish to embark upon. It’d be great, if you would keep posting more about your experiences.

    Reply

Leave a Reply to sindhura Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *