From GE to MD...
Back in Jan, we'd blogged about sharing our #startup story of setting up Manifest Design. We thought it made sense to share both our individual perspectives and reasons to set up.
This month, I'll share how I got interested in establishing a new business, what were the circumstances and how I view that decision today.
In my 11+ yrs of work experience, I always tried to see the company I was in objectively - how it ran, how it made money, what kind of people issues popped up and also how the management dealt with stuff.
While politics runs riot in most places (and is tempting to get involved in) I decided to focus on the bigger picture.
Circa year 1999 - 2000. Gurgaon. GE had just started a transaction processing (a.k.a Call center /BPO) center in Sector 18 and kicked off the Great Outsourcing Gold Rush. Almost overnight, a new source of employment had been created which was going to change thelives of lakhs of educated youngsters in India. What followed was a race to set up BPO/ KPO/ Transaction processing units by all and sundry.
Every one with a spare dime wanted in. Gurgaon had more money coming in than imagined!
Why am I talking about Gurgaon? Because this massive transformation created such huge opportunities that forced me to look at every job as a business. I was motivated to see myself as a business owner who was getting things done- cut costs, improve productivity, motivate people, kick BS and seek constant improvements while enjoying it thoroughly.
Consequently, I outgrew every role quickly. Changing jobs didn't help because I was always thinking of doing it on my own. Then, one single incident at work one day pushed me off the fence to take the plunge. I was managing a team of developers supporting a large cloud CRM company’s project in Noida at the time. At 2:30 am we got a Sev 1 escalation (in simple words, the client using the CRM was shut down and his business was at standstill).
Procedure kicked in, meeting bridges dialed in, sleepy Techies from Sydney to Tokyo were pulled out of their beds. In that moment I saw the entire company hierarchy from the Sr. VP to me doing exactly the same thing - calling customer, keeping a tab, pulling resources for a fix etc.
It was a Flashlight moment - "When I'm gonna be 40 yrs old, I'll be in their shoes. Life, an endless repetitive cycle of solving other peoples problems”.
My ‘employee’ plane had started losing altitude and I was ready to land on the "entrepreneur" runway.
I resigned a few days later. (Disclaimer - My last company and bosses were amongst the best I've worked with. Career, money and exposure wise I had a very enriching experience and I wish there was something to whine about ...although all of it ultimately lead me on to my future dreams).
I then took a 6-7 month breather. Bear in mind that I'd not taken a single days break between jobs - so this was the first 'blank' time. Manreet, my elder sister and now co-founder had just returned from a 8 yr stint in New York. We were both ready for the next chapter in our work lives.
In the free months, I did a lot of re-search and read up on what were my options.
Then at 11 PM one June night in 2012, my 'third eye' woke up. I knew what I was going to do. I called Manreet, told her about my plans, she said she wanted in too. And that's all it took and we have not looked back since.
Manifest Design was soon born with the support of my parents and my wife, Avneet.
My next post will carry the heavy duty stuff on the actual process of launching a #startup in India - stay tuned.
And I leave you with a flavor of how life was after the ‘flash’!
Managing two laptops is tough. But always remember which one is precious ;-)