The man behind Youth ki Awaz, Anshul Tewari, shares with us his experience of having an early head start.
Truth be told, I was never the brightest student in my class of 50 students. I barely managed to be an average student and our education was very restrictive in 2007. The idea of entrepreneurship did not even exist. Right before my 12th board examinations when I was starting a blog, I had no idea that I’d be embarking on a journey that would define not just what I do for the next 8 years but for the rest of my life.
8 years hence, Youth Ki Awaaz has become one of India’s largest online platforms for young people to speak up on issues of importance with a strong sustainable business around it, but these 8 years have brought along lessons that no education or degree could have taught me. Today, I feel that the best decision I made was to startup at the age of 17, while I was in school, and here’s why:
I learned that starting young and failing fast was important: Our society puts us in boxes – of career options and choices and the kind of education we can purse. As a culture, we are rarely told to take a stand on matters that concern us or to take risks and fail. There is enough taboo attached to the idea of failing, but failure for me was the best and most important learning curve in my journey. While building Youth Ki Awaaz I failed many times – had many trials and errors – but having age on my side, I made sure that I learned from each of my failure and moved fast ahead.
Being young and foolish is important: It makes you see the world in a different light, and value your experiences a lot more. Education becomes a lot more purposeful and you know exactly what you want to learn from it. But at the same time, it helps to be a bit foolish, a bit crazy and tread the rarely traveled path. After all, it is the crazy ones who change the world.
A lot is at stake, including friendships: One of the toughest moments in my life was when I realised that my friends did not connect with my hardships as an entrepreneur and that it was unfair on my part to expect them to. In fact, they had started to dislike me because of my constant unavailability and diversion towards my startup. It reached a point where I got bullied by many who I thought were friends. Overcoming that also made me value the ones who stuck by a lot more. I discovered that in the toughest of times only a few people stand with you – and they are the best allies you can ever have. Moreover, when we’re young, we should value our challenges and turn them into our strengths. So years on, today, what I learned about creating allies is a part of the company culture at Youth Ki Awaaz.
Profit is the reward of bearing risks: Be it in entrepreneurship, your job, or your hobby – it is risk taking that defines how you grow. You need to believe that the dots will connect in the future and persevere. Entrepreneurship comes with its own baggage and its own set of pressures. If you’re getting into it, don’t quit so easily. But don’t take risks for the heck of it either.
Nothing matches the joy of building something meaningful: This one’s self explanatory. If you do decide to take the plunge, remember – build something that solves a real problem – and the rest will fall in place.