LET THE JOURNEY BEGIN!!
This is a ‘direct -from-heart’ account of our journey at Kalaage and the challenges we faced.
The following happened on 20th April 2016:
“Then it is decided….. we are quitting it right?…….because we have no option…..a lot of time got in it but no one seems to understand it……..lets call it quits and search for other jobs…….(heart break)”
The following happened on 26th September 2016:
“Listen guys……. have a look at this message I just received…..we finally got funded….and the amount has hit our account….. its time for us to move steady and build things….”
Whenever I used to read or hear about startups successfully raising amount, I used to concern myself only with the number they raised and from whom, never did we used think about all the things in between. This is my effort on focusing on the things in between, the losses, more losses, heart breaks, emotional breakdowns, the fun of making things, working as a team, reaching milestones and why I think that the key to everything is being persistent.
So after shutting down my magazine – The Wounded Tiger and leaving Infosys, realized that there is a gap between writers and publication and we need to bridge the same, so though about creating that bridge and named it Kalaage. It was our aim to connect writers and publications and to give people a chance to see their ideas, views, articles etc published and printed in prominent magazines and newspapers and also to make publications easy to sustain in this digital era.
With this idea and execution plan in mind, the two of us, Raghav Sharma (me), Ravi Piplani started working on it and came out with the first version. Very quickly realized that the two of us can not do much and discovered our third partner in Himanshu Agarwal and started working on it.
At that time, for almost a year, I was working full time over it and Ravi was still in his job. We were able to show some amazing (Ok, a modest traction) in our platform and thought about approaching various investors for funding. Our search ended when we met an individual who promised that he would get us funded and that he personally loves our idea. And we thought that wow… that way easy…that this is easy. So began our association with him and the exchange of pitch deck’s, excel sheets, financials, etc. Ravi decided to quit his job, looking at the ongoing process, and decided to come to Jaipur full time.
And one fine day we got a call from the same individual and he said the the investors (some big shot VC firm) has agreed to invest around 1.5 Cr in Kalaage. This was a game changing news for us as Ravi had also left his job to join full time and we did take a huge risk, also a lot of money from our end already got invested in it. But, things were not at all hunky-dory for as it turned out that the person was bluffing us and eventually stopped taking our calls.
This all happened by January end 2016 and we were done and dusted by then. We still continued our search for investment and met a lot of investors but again, no one was ready to listen. All we wanted was for people to listen to us. Our mentor, Deepak Goel (KarmaCircles), supported us and kept pushing and motivating , and that was one thing keeping us alive.
By March end we got to know of this accelerator – Aarambh Ventures and applied there. The process was very grilling which indicated that they meant business and knew what they were doing, and so we applied there and gave our very best to get selected. Winning a B Plan competition held at SRCC Delhi and getting accepted by Aarambh ventures changed the curve of our startup journey and gave us a second chance at fighting.
The four month long acceleration program was the best thing that happened to us, and the thing about this accelerator was that they were not only helping us to shape our product. but they behaved like a part of our team. They not only worked with us, but also celebrated and enjoyed with us, and gave our platform a shape of a global product, which was much needed.
Team at Aarambh were truly god send and they entered our journey at the right time.
The last 4 months at Aarambh taught us that raising investment does not guarantee success, but building a strong foundation and keeping your feet grounded definitely does. And this is the best gift they gave us, the gift of BUILDING FOUNDATION.
Now after raising our seed round from RAIN (Rajasthan Angel Innovators Network) we have a sea of challenges in front of us, Challenges which will be fought with a strong team and capable group of individuals standing besides us. Because in the end, the JOURNEY HAS JUST BEGAN and THE WAR IS ON!!!.
I always believe in the saying ‘Grow Steady And Build Things’ the more steady you grow, the better things you will build. And always have a conclusion to your startup and be persistent in following it like a MAD HATTER…..now go and put that dent in the universe you always wanted.