“Entrepreneurship is for the rich and it is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea!” — These were the kind of comments 23-year-old Nikhil Kuruganti received when he started his own branding and business development company two years ago. Despite the fact that he was always a bright student and was confident about his future prospects, there was wide opposition from parents and extended family. He had, of course, turned down a big fat job in a multinational company after completing his MBA from University of Hyderabad. By then, he had already burnt his fingers with two other startups, one of which was when he was in Class XII.
A graduate of microbiology, genetics and chemistry, Kuruganti always inclined towards entrepreneurship and inspiration for the same was drawn from Jamshed Tata and Richard Branson of Virgin mobiles. The journey wasn’t an easy one, says Kuruganti, a first-generation entrepreneur, who established Inno Garage Branding Advertising and Designing in November 2010 as part of his final-year project in entrepreneurship.
Everything seemed like a perfect plan and an office was set up in Panjagutta here. There was no huge investment requirement, cash-flows were predictable and client acquisition was easy. “While my batchmates showed off their lucrative salaries, I was borrowing money from my parents,” recollects Kuruganti adding that the pressure to quit and join a routine job was mounting.
While the company had to delay salaries due to lack of inflows, some of the core team had already started leaving for better packages, which forced Kuruganti to take up part-time training courses for survival. Success was far ahead, but the relief came in the third quarter when the firm broke even. “We started signing in bigger deals from the fourth quarter. Today, after two years, Inno Garage is a debt-free company with 20 employees serving over 200 clients from four continents in strategy and communications,” beams Kuruganti. Meanwhile, Inno Garage has also expanded to legal consulting, social media, process and investment consulting. Parental or peer pressure, according to him, is something every entrepreneur has to face. He says, it was Robert Frost’s few lines that helped him hold together in toughest of the times. “The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep,” he signs off.