I dropped out of RAIT right after second year after trying my hand at interning at a couple of places. While at college, my marks at vivas were always better than those in theory exams. Was a passionate volunteer during Horizon, an event head during the first Rhapsody and the editor at The Wall (few of the best months spent). My first fling with KTs was in first semester and we simply couldn’t let go of each other till the end. I was just another confused teen, without a clear goal or reason behind choosing engineering (getting into RAIT in my first CAP round was easier than getting into top 4 minority BMM colleges, my first preference).
With academics going downhill after 2 years in college, the world outside (exposure thanks to the extra curricular activities) was talking an entirely different story. I had to take a break and try things out a bit. So, thanks to RAIT, I got an internship at BARC. A month or two in there and I lost all inclination to be an engineer. My second stint was with a web entrepreneur with whom I worked on HR and content creation projects. While it was a refreshing change and opened up new perspectives, it was difficult to return to the box-like job profile every day. That was when I realized I’m a bad employee, but loved the way my employer was working. These experiences coincided with the Kiyosaki and Trump authored books I was reading then.
Guess I had to take a leap then. Going back to college and wasting 2 years running after a degree that isn’t going to be of much use was not an option. That amount of time could be spent in building something that will generate cash flow. Study and preparation was needed, and I set to work. I chose Entrepreneurship because it gave me total control over my successes and failures.
Had you ever thought about having your own firm?
Somewhere, always. My initial plan was to complete engineering, do MBA in marketing, work in the retail coffee industry for a couple of decades (I love coffee) and then start my own chain of coffee shops :) However, I stepped out of college to start an online magazine and ended up building a premium cleaning services company.
Dropout. Confidence. Motivation. Challenges.
I dropped out because I had the confidence to run my own firm. 30% of graduates are employable, so clearly the skills required to do good in the big awesome world are not taught in colleges. As a result, companies who seek to employ talent lay a big focus on performance in extra curricular activities. That makes students way smarter. Handling an event in a typical RAIT ‘jugaadu’ way, building The Wall team from scratch while ramping up the budget 10 times that of the previous year was a gift from my amazing college that gave me the confidence to start up. Being a part of RAA and interacting with Soumendra Nanda regularly was a lesson in itself, it taught me basic communication lessons that we often don’t learn while in the safe environment of a college.
As mentioned before, Kiyosaki and Trump books were prime motivation. So was the ample online literature that revolved around the act of starting up. Entrepreneurship is not something that can be learned, but something that can be realized. All you need is guts and focused efforts, everything falls into place then.
The key challenges included getting off the warm seat and being on the field to test our ideas. Getting people together, keeping them together, motivating them to work on a greater, common goal was a task in itself. So was staying true to oneself and not giving up in the first few months when everything seems tough.
About Hammer and Mop.
Hammer and Mop provides premium cleaning services to homes and offices across Mumbai. Most of our clients are HNIs and expatriates. In 2 year of operations, we have built a solid reputation of good customer service and consistent quality. We also work closely with Consulates and 3 of the top 5 Indian architects. We’re based in Bandra, currently a team of 35 and growing. We love having interns on board and have visited NMIMS and IIM Lucknow for summer placements.
Why only cleaning services? How did I get the idea?
There is never a Eureka moment when you start up, it is always an evolutionary process when you learn from experiences and mistakes. Cleaning Services seemed like a good solution to the problem the numerous nuclear families faced in their busy lives. On building a good product, we focused on the premium segment because they are early adopters who are willing to pay for quality. While we did start with cleaning as a focus and built it into our core strength, we’re already working on diversifying into property support services. When you decide to solve a problem, we should focus on how our skill sets help add value. Cleaning is a logical and an intuitive process so the decision to start this business was an easy one.
Being a lazy kid, I disliked being drawn into annual cleaning rituals before Diwali at home. I feel it has always been a recognized problem at the back of my mind since then. That’s probably the reason this was one of the first ideas that came to mind after the online magazine venture failed.
Future plans for Hammer and Mop
The company has potential to have pan India presence and build a scalable business model. I see Hammer and Mop as a brand to reckon with and would like it to be known as a good employer. We have a fantastic team and I’m keen to see it grow.
Family’s support is a key aspect no matter what you do. Interestingly, this translates into convincing them that what you’re doing is right and NOT giving in to their whims and fancies (because it’s your life, not theirs). Also, it is easier to find customers once you master the skill of ‘selling’ your concept to your parental units. Their warm love, unconditional emotional support and financial backing (as a youngster, you might always need more money to invest) is essential. Do understand that your parents love you. Their resistance stems from the fear of you not having your head in the right place. Communicate that you mean business, show results and they will gladly accept your decision.
Stay at RAIT
In addition to what I’ve written in the first couple of paragraphs- I do owe a bunch to my dear college, where I learned the basics of being ready for the world outside. Supportive professors, amazing student community, a strong sense of belonging, culture of free will, connected alums and a history of being wacky- this seems to be ‘the’ engineering college to be a part of. However, I do feel that all of us need to pay some serious attention to RAA because that is one powerful way of being in touch with the fraternity and a way to give back to the institution that made you into what you are today.
No advice, just simple suggestions- do what you want to do, responsibly. Be a honey badger, because honey badgers don’t care. And heed your intuition :)
Big thanks, Jinisha!