“In life, how much you screw yourself up does not depend on which path you take; it depends on which path you do not take”, so starts a famous Bollywood flick (I leave it for you all to find out the movie and watch it if you haven’t. No prizes for the correct answer as the movie itself is a treat to watch). The first time I came across this line was in one of those wonderful undergraduate days when I watched the movie. The line had immediately grabbed my attention, but I didn’t know it then that five years down the line, one fine morning, I would be thinking of it again.
Having passed my undergraduate level from a reputed college in Nepal, I applied for a scholarship in India. Whether the decision to apply for the scholarship and accept it later was good or not, I do not know, but I would like to be the proverbial optimist who is not a prisoner of his past but an architect of his future and would see the brighter side of the scholarship. An MBA from India sounded good, and the scholarship tag was the icing on the cake. I left Nepal with determination, enthusiasm and some apprehension.
Bangalore wasn’t much different from what I had expected. Having watched a lot of Hindi movies, read some Indian magazines and followed cricket for quite some time, I was acquainted with the culture (minus the language) and the lifestyle of South Indians. But that they are one of the most helpful, extremely hardworking, and the most down to earth people one would ever find was something that I knew only after a few months. To describe my MBA days in one word is beyond my verbal repertoire as I do not have a single word in my vocabulary that would perfectly describe all these : the fun of being a student, the examination stress, the adrenaline rush moments of a ‘prolonged two sided attraction’, the bitter realization that it could never develop into a relationship, the pain of having lost some friends for ever– thanks to the ‘attraction’ and its aftermath, the pleasure and –at times– the pressure of being in the college merit list, the anger of receiving less internal marks in the final semester for no apparent reason, the discomfort in eating the rubbish hostel food, and of course that last bench fun –I have always been a last bencher throughout my academic life (except for those rotation policy days in high school and a few days of the aforementioned attraction when the view of a single person was the only reason to stay in the class). My penchant for last bench has had mixed results. An advice to juniors: Try it at your own risk!
With all these bittersweet memories, I left India after successfully completing my MBA. And then came the job offer from Biruwa Ventures. I discussed the prospect with a friend, and he asked me what Biruwa actually does. I responded in the typical MBA fashion saying, “It is a ‘business incubator cum accelerator’ that also provides office space for ‘startups’, offers ‘seed capital’ for ‘viable ventures’ , and offers ‘mentoring’ for entrepreneurs.” I saw confusion written all over his face. My parents too didn’t understand what I was up to and suggested to go for a ‘permanent job’ with ‘regular income’. I did not want to sound smart or confuse anybody, but to be honest, with no firsthand experience of entrepreneurship or consulting, I was in no position to describe my own job to anyone. Having spent two months in Biruwa, although I cannot claim to be acquainted with all facets of entrepreneurship and business consulting, I certainly have learnt a lot. The pleasure of seeing a startup grow into a viable business makes the learning process all the more pleasurable and it more than compensates for the slightly less pay as compared to conventional finance jobs in India- the path I left at a crucial juncture of my life. The flat organizational structure and absence of complex hierarchy, the moderately challenging nature of the job, the flexible work schedule, the energy level of the young yet talented team, and the frequent group building exercises in Biruwa have amazed me to say the least and have made every moment of mine in Biruwa pleasurable. As I am writing this piece, some of our team members are enthusiastically planning for a team retreat to Chitlang. I have some academic goals in my mind for the next few years, and I believe Biruwa is the best place to be in while I chase those goals as everyone here has a penchant for learning and would back me up in my pursuit of academic excellence. My transition from amongst the last benchers to Biruwa Ventures has indeed been pleasurable so far.
Coming back to that fine morning and that movie quote, it was a tough call for me that day. I had two paths to choose from: a conventional finance job and a challenging unorthodox job at Biruwa. Choosing the former meant taking the path of least resistance; choosing the later meant voyaging into unchartered waters. Both options came with an opportunity cost and I didn’t want to be regretting few years down the line for not having taken the right path. Thankfully the path I took hasn’t ruined me, and if my experiences so far in Biruwa are signs of things to come, I will probably never have to think of the path I didn’t take!