INK. The ink conference in association with TED.
This INK talk is brought to you by EMC².
Throughout my life, everyone around me,
my friends, my family, my teachers,
they always told me this one word:
think, before you do anything.
But this one word actually caused me more harm than anything else.
But then I came across these two words.
And I soon realized that these two words are actually helping meet what I want to do.
So I’m going to tell you guys my story
and tell you how these two words have really helped me shape my life.
When I was in school, I should think before I would raise my hand to ask the teacher a question.
I would think before answering the questions in my own words.
I would think before doing anything.
And in the process, I didn’t end up doing anything at all.
But then, in the eleven standard,
I became extremely fascinated by the concept of filmmaking.
The fact that you can take a small little handycam
and then show the rest of the world what’s inside your head.
I took that as a very very powerful medium.
At the end of high school, I went up to my mom, and her best friend Anu Aunty,
who always seems to take an active interest in my life.
I told them I want to be a filmmaker.
And obviously they weren’t very impressed.
Because in India, if you want to be anything other than an engineer or a doctor,
you’re considered a terrorist.
They obviously said no,
but the sad thing was they made me do this.
Maybe I won’t be successful a filmmaker.
Maybe I won’t make enough money.
Maybe I won’t make it.
Now this one word got me to a lot of trouble, because it got me into this.
Now not that I have anything against engineering,
but I hated it, every minute, every second of it.
But something happened in engineering.
About to learn, I was an above-average student,
I’d never fail.
But for the first time in my life, I fail.
And that one moment of failure actually turned out to be a very strong moment of success for me.
Because from then on,
I didn’t have to prove anything to anyone anymore, except myself.
So I decided to do this.
So I took up my handycam again,
and as I’m shooting all my short films,
and start uploading them.
And then in 2006 this Y little invention comes along.
You know, it lets you upload all your videos at a click of a button,
and the rest of the world can see it.
Imagine at that moment,
so I started uploading all my films in,
and I started making even more films.
Soon people started noticing it,
and decided to give me professional work.
So with the help of YouTube.com,
in the first year of college I set up my first company,
Last Minute Films,
because in engineering everything is done in the last minute.
And I soon realized that, in the real world,
everything is done in the last minute, too.
A year later, this rock band called Pentagram.
They asked me to direct a music video for them,
and it’s only going to be for YouTube.
So I made a music video, and it ended up getting a hundred thousand views.
And this production company in Bombay saw the video,
and they offered me a job: direct.
So here I was getting a chance not to be an assistant,
not to be a gofer, but to start directing music videos.
But I was in the third year of my college,
所以在孟买 我打电话给我妈妈 当然还有阿努阿姨
So from Bombay, I called up my mom and Anu Aunty obviously,
and I told them that “You know, I’m getting a chance to direct.”
Obviously they weren’t very impressed,
我二十岁 就在孟买 除此之外无所依靠
me, twenty years old, sitting in Bombay, nothing added up.
But I…So I had to come back and finish one long torturous year of engineering.
Once I was finally done with my engineering,
I said that this is what I’m going to do.
So I took a one-way bus ticket to Bombay,
I landed up there,
and I went up to the production company’s office, hoping that day they have a job for me.
And surprisingly, they did.
And two months later, I… You know,
they sended me to Mr. Rehman studio to direct small promo video.
And I was shit scared, because all I knew was network analysis and field systems,
and here I was trying to direct Mr. Rehman in a promo video.
But the shoot went on well, thankfully.
But at the end of the video, all he told me was that
“你知道吗 人生很短暂 要做你爱做的事 做你深信不疑的事”
“You know what, life is very short, always do what you love, and always do what you believe in.”
I kept those words for the rest of my life.
A couple of months later,
我在为Shankar Ehsaan Loy制作一部MV
I was directing a music video for Shankar Ehsaan Loy.
Star of the music video was one of India’s biggest actresses,
Preity Zinta, and she refused to believe I was a director.
I was twenty years old and I look fifteen,
And she definitely didn’t buy it.
And you can see from the pictures, she definitely doesn’t look happy with me done as the director.
But after I directed this video, I realized that, you know,
I really want to do something on my own.
So I came back to Bangalore,
and that’s when accidentally the second part of my life started.
And it started somewhere like this.
So I believe all great business is at the bottom when you’re drunk,
因为当你喝醉的时候 你毫无拘束 一切皆有可能
because when you’re drunk you have no inhibitions and anything is possible.
So me and my friend were sitting in this bar,
and we’re getting drunk and we starting missing…
We’re starting to miss our high school.
So we passed the school called Bishop Cotton’s,
and we would call Catonians.
所以我们就 你们懂的 我们应该买件汗衫 上面写着卡顿人
So we’re like, you know what, we should get sweatshirts with the word Catonian written on it.
But we were drunk, right? So anything is possible.
So we’re like: “dude, why not this for every school and college in this country?”
So on a piece of tissue paper,
we wrote down a grand business plan,
to make merchandise for students of every school and college in this country.
OK, so now that we have an idea in hand,
this is not what we’re going to do.
We’re not going to go to Mom and Anu Aunty and tell them my idea.
Because we already know what’s happened there, right?
So we’re not going to do this.
But the problem was that we didn’t know anything about running a business.
Nothing, absolutely nothing.
So, this is what we’re supposed to do.
But four years of engineering and they never taught me Microsoft Excel.
And I realized that that’s the only thing needed.
That one software practically defines everyone’s life.
那么 之前这个字很明显造成了很多麻烦 对吧？
So and obviously, this caused a lot of problems before, right?
This is what we’re going to do.
So we found this manufacturing friend in a small town in throughput.
And he offered to make us some samples.
We landed up at the old boys day of Bishop Cotton’s with a small stall,
and hoped that people would be interested.
At first, nobody showed up.
But then this one kid came and asked us you know, “where did you get this hoodie from? Can I buy it?”
Then we said “Yeah, you can.”
And then he got ten of his other Catonian friends, and they got ten of theirs.
And in the first day that we started ended up selling 2500 hoodies.
So that’s when we knew that,
“Yes, we have something in our hands.”
And the good thing was
when these Catonian kids started wearing the hoodie things and starting moving around town,
students from other schools and colleges got insecure.
So they were like “Where did you get that from?”
And that is our intention,
so we knew that they’re going to come to us.
But then we knew that if you’re going to do this,
and for the entire country we got to figure out a plan.
So in 2009, we officially launched our motto
as an online store to cater to students of schools and colleges across India.
But the moment we started, that’s when all the problems started.
My friends were like, “dude, what’s wrong with you? Why are you doing this?
You know you should just get a regular job.
Why are you taking such a big risk?”
My mom was really worried,
because she thought I won’t get any in doubting.
在印度 如果你不为兴趣而工作 你就不会被质疑
In India, if you don’t work for interest, you do not get doubted.
My mom was really worried,
and I know Anu Aunty called me a T-shirt salesman.
All of this like really started playing with my head,
and I became really insecure,
and I was like “What am I doing? What am I doing?”
And then, I just went back to that one small moment of engineering where I failed.
And I thought, you know,
I failed in engineering and nothing bad happened.
If I fail in this, what’s the worse?
So we decided to give it a shot.
And soon enough things began to change.
We started growing, people started noticing us.
They put us on the cover of India’s biggest magazine.
They wrote more than 50 newspaper articles around us.
And this is where Alma Mater in city with 2,000 colleges across 200 different cities with over 4 lakh students.
All are sitting out of that one small office in Bangalore.
But the coolest part about this is exactly a year later,
my friend and I were sitting in the same bar,
and this random kid walks past us, wearing a Catonion hoodie.
天啊 那个时刻 我觉得那个时刻就是成功的时刻
Man, that one moment, I think that one moment is a success.
For me success is not money,
is not God, or is not a bank balance.
It’s… It’s moments like this.
You know, the moment we saw that kid walked past us.
And exactly a year later, we just look at us.
We didn’t say anything.
So for me, that was my greatest greatest moment of success.
And that success came because of “Don’t think”.
So in the meantime,
we kept…we kept last-minute films running obviously,
and we ended up with over a million views on our YouTube channel.
And the best part was YouTube made us a partner.
So finally they sended me a mail that’s saying that,
“从现在开始 每当有人观看你的视频时 我们会向你付款”
“Now every time anyone sees the videos, we will pay you.”
I thought that really really awesome,
because my dad was really worried why am I uploading all these videos.
But the moment he… he came to know that I get paid for it now,
he was like, you should upload as many videos as you can.
So now I come to the very interesting part of this story.
This unwanted character I chose always always is a strong part of my life.
He’s that character who always, you know,
but ignoring all of my activities.
So how to figure out? You know, how to, how to deal with the situation?
So I said I should had a lot of notes on Facebook and blogs about Anu Aunty, you know,
secretly telling them what…
You know, how she’s damaging my life.
And then somebody said, you know,
“you should write a book about it.”
The problem was there’re 50,000 words in a book.
The most number of words I’ve ever written is 500 words.
So I was like, how would I write a book?
But then I remember my English teacher once told me,
“Everything looks tough until you actually go ahead and do it.”
So I started and I never stopped,
and I actually wrote 60,000 words.
And I wrote a book called
How I Braved Anu Aunty and Co-Founded A Million Dollar Company.
She made a greatest adversity,
Anu Aunty into a brand ambassador.
Alright, because the book was about how we started our model.
And Anu Aunty became really famous.
她到处跑 告诉其他人来反对我们 现在她很有名了
So here she was going around, telling everything against us, and now she was famous.
She couldn’t say anything up against us anymore.
But the most interesting thing about the book was, we were bootstrapping, right?
So we never had money to market a company.
So now somebody else is marketing our company and paying us.
You get paid for marketing,
I never thought that the concept like this could exist.
I only… I only realize that you have to pay a lot for marketing.
But it’s also a way that someone else can pay you to market your very own company.
I knew that the book was doing really well, because it sold a lot of copies.
But the most interesting thing was when I walked into an auto,
and the auto guy was selling my book,
and I took this picture and I sent it to Anu Aunty.
And she sent it to all her friends,
because for her this was, this was a high point.
So I’m going to end my talk,
which this model story since INK is all about stories.
It’s about two gentlemen, Mr. Rajat and Mr. Ashok.
So I met Rajat on a plane and he told me the story.
上个世纪八十年代时 他俩都去了IT行业 然后去了哈佛商学院
They both went to IT in the 1980s, then they went to Harvard Business School.
Ashok went on to work for Apple.
Rajat went on to work for a big consulting firm.
Rajat recently came down to India for a business meeting.
His car broke down in Calcutta, and they took him to this garage.
And he found the guy who’s repairing the car was Ashok.
That it was shock, he was like
“Ashok, how could you be repairing the car?
you’re the smartest kid I ever knew.
You should probably this the CEO of some company.”
Then Ashok told him his story.
He said, “You know where I came.
I’ve worked for Apple for a few years.
And I came back to India,
made a company that increased fuel efficiency,
sold that, and then started this garage.
Because all I really loved was repairing cars with my very own hands.”
Rajat was once telling me the story.
He told me, “Varun, I’m 65 years old,
I’m the vice president of my company.
My only regret in life is that I didn’t have live a life that I wanted to live.
I lived a life that somebody else wanted me to live.”
And all he told me was, “Don’t give up on your dreams.”
至于我要怎么做 我觉得是“别想 直接做”
And for me to do that, I think, “Don’t think, just do.”