Four Start-up Founders Straddle Work, Passion

We are all passionate about something, but it usually gets lost in our hectic lives. Akhila Damodaran writes about entrepreneurs who do what they love alongside their jobs.

Published: 27th February 2016 06:33 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th February 2016 06:33 AM   |  A+A-


Running on ‘Me Time’

Forty-four-year-old Parveen Mittal, who has co-founded Affimity and a start-up Knowledge Communities, has participated in about 32 half-marathons.

Five years ago, a colleague encouraged him to start running. “I slowly picked up and started running 2 to 3 km in Cubbon Park with my colleague. Another colleague suggested we participate in marathons, and that’s how I registered for Kaveri Trail Marathon (KTM) three-and-a-half years ago. Running 21 km was a major achievement for me,” he says.

Apart from keeping you fit, he thinks, marathons are great places to meet people. It also gives him his ‘me time’. “I can run alone too. I don’t keep my phone with me or listen to music. I like to see things around. Marathons give you a chance to travel, ” he adds. “After the marathon, I stay on for some more days to holiday with my family.”

In 2011, he completed his first full marathon in Auroville, Puducherry. The maximum distance he had covered before this marathon was 30 km. So, completing 42 km was a daunting task for him.

“Credit to the localites, foreigners and the expats who supported and motivated me to keep going. I could achieve my target 42-km before I turned 42. I was 41-and-a-half when I ran it,” he says.

He runs around 5 km a day and 10 km once a week unless he is practising for a race. “My wife has also started running. She runs 10 km.”

FourA.jpgStreaks of Art

Suman Howlader, CEO and founder of CarZippi, is passionate about painting and cooking, apart from automobiles. Hailing from a Bengali family, he was sent for painting classes as part of his education.

He studied painting for about 15 years. “I started enjoying sketching and painting. When I am happy, I paint. When I am sad, I paint too. It helps me express myself and de-stress,” he says.

He has received Shilpa Visharad and Shilpa Ratna certificates in fine arts, and participated in couple of exhibitions. He paints landscapes and lifestyle images at least once a month. He working towards launching a website for amateur painters my mid-2016.

“It will be a platform where painters who haven’t had professional training can showcase their work and discuss about painting,” he says.

FourB.jpgSuman learnt cooking by the time he was in Class 10. “As the oldest son of a small family, I used to help my mother. I was interested in cooking, I did my graduation in hotel management. I observe chefs garnish and present food,” he says.

The advent of computer technology in India in early 2000s made him curious about exploring that field. He did diploma in computer technology and worked for some tech companies before he founded CarZippi.

He still cooks on weekends. He is partial to the continental dishes as he finds it less time-consuming and more convenient to prepare them as they require fewer ingredients. “Grilled chicken with honey sauce is everybody’s favourite,” he says. He wants to launch a recipe book now.

Off the Track

Having followed Formula One for years, CEO and founder of Shopmatic Anurag Avula registered to volunteer for race marshal when it was held in Singapore in 2008. Ever since, he has been volunteering as a senior official at the SingTel Singapore Grand Prix.

FourC.jpg“To be a Formula One racer, you need to start young and be super fit. I am not close to fitness,” he says, giggling. “So, the next best thing was to volunteer. Around 23 different groups work without pay for the event and do not report to anyone directly. The volunteers are from different walks of life -- from high court judges to company CEOs. So you get to meet people from various backgrounds and cultures passionate about the sport.”

His duties included overseeing support category races, and assisting the clerk of the course in operational issues such as infrastructure and security. “It is a high-precision sport. Cars race at a speed of 300 km per hour. Yet, everything around the track should run smoothly. A lot of team work is involved and you need to stay alert every moment. I learn a lot from the event I can apply in my life,” he says.

Striking a Chord

Advaith Mohan, co-founder of MobiusWorks, feels that performing in a band improves his creativity and gives scope for improvement. He plays guitar for the metal band The Down Troddence.

For him, music is more than a passion. It is inevitable, ‘something you have to do’. “When you see people coming to listen to you, it feels great.” The band’s album How are you? We are fine. Thank you won eight Rolling Stone metal music awards in 2014.

He learnt how to play the guitar online when he was in Class 11. He joined his college band, Iterate, and released an Extended Play with his friend Siddharth. The two are working on reviving their college band this year.


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