I was born and educated in Northeast India. All the learning in life has come from the region. I did my schooling in Sikkim and my graduation from Arunachal Pradesh. As far as I can remember, my mother used to run a vegetable shop and then a restaurant in Gangtok. I used to take the morning shift in our restaurant which also had a PCO (Phone Booth) then, that was when I was 6-7 years old. It's my earliest memory of taking responsibility and I enjoyed it.
Leadership was extremely natural to me. Also, another incident from my boarding school was when I was around 12-14 years old I remember having a phone which had some simple games, I used to rent the phone to my friends to play games. But nothing started until I reached college. I always knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur.
After my 10th grade, just like every other Indian family, my parents too wanted me to become a doctor. I had actually been preparing for my medical entrance exam, CET, but unfortunately, I didn't get in. Another option was Forestry. I had already applied at the universities in the North East for forestry and had also gotten through before I even gave my medical exams. It is the best thing that happened to me to learn about Northeast India.
'Entrepreneurship Gave Me A Sense Of Freedom'
Since college, I have always had some form of an entrepreneurial venture. I knew from the beginning that I never wanted to work under anyone. I wanted to exhibit my own leadership skills and build something on my own. To be very honest, I have never even sat down for an interview with someone. I started up NE Taxi when I was in my second year of forestry. Entrepreneurship gave me a sense of freedom and that taste inspired me to continue as an entrepreneur post-graduation. I liked being in control of my businesses.
Any idea is worth trying and failing. Before my current position, I went through a phase where I enjoyed brainstorming and working on ideas right after college, some ideas failed miserably. Of those 35 ventures, some were small like a website and some were big enough to scale.
To talk about one, I started a commercial laundry in Gangtok thinking of it as a tourist destination and targeting hotels. I enjoyed it at the beginning but realized that I wasn't passionate about the business and exited after a year. I also created a microblogging site where I hired bloggers to interview celebrities but later I did not know how to keep it running so I exited.
I am the kind of person who loves to try and build on all the ideas that come to my mind. There was a time when I used to build on all the ideas that came to my mind. I had also started a news platform for my college where I used to update everything that used to happen on the campus. Failing has just made me stronger and has built me resilience.
'Passion And Purpose Is What Fuels Me'
I have never in my life felt like giving up on entrepreneurship. I used to try and test everything, if an idea did not work out or if I did not feel passionate enough for it, I used to back out of it and move forward. Many times, it's always easier to give up.
When I was working on the commercial laundry, it was heavily dependent on tourism. There was a time back in 2017/2018 when the Gorkhaland Agitation was taking place and the Sikkim highway had been blocked. For 90 days the highway had been blocked and the worst of all was that it was during the tourist season. Already being under a huge debt with no business, I was having one of the worst moments of my life.
I had a lot of anxiety and I could not wait to sell the business which was another huge task. Selling and starting a new venture in the North East is not as easy as it is done in metropolitan cities. But after a while, after being under severe depression, I was able to sell it off and incur a huge loss and move on. Even after all this, I didn't want to give up on entrepreneurship. I never shy away from failing. Passion and purpose is what fuels me every day to keep going ahead.
'A Title I Will Carry Forever In My Life'
I remember when the announcement had come out. It was 2 am in the night and I was literally in my sleep! I remember going up on the website and searching for my name. Honestly, I pinched myself. It was too good to be true.
I woke my brother up to share the news and celebrate I thought my life would be broken into two parts, before Forbes and after Forbes. But after a week, as things eventually died down, everything went back to normal.
It's a title I will carry for life and am grateful for. Another aspect that I don't think a lot of people are aware of is that I can easily access others who have made it to the Forbes list. I also have a lifetime invitation for attending all the Forbes events which have helped me network a lot and be a part of a large community.
'I Believe In Winning Small Battles'
Everything that I have today, I was born here, raised here, educated here and now I feel blessed to be part of the region and work with the community here. I think in a way, I have been programmed to work in the North East. My college was the biggest catalyst for the same.
It's an ongoing process, I believe in winning small battles every day. I feel that my biggest achievement would be making the word 'entrepreneur' mainstream. Before the word, 'entrepreneur' was unheard of. People would rather refer to themTeaching Them Young: This Not-For-Profit Organization In Delhi Offers 'Farm-Based' Learning For Childrenselves as a businessman than an entrepreneur. I am grateful that after people started reading about me and after media houses started covering me, the word has reached all homes.
Life in Delhi and Bangalore would have been easier for me but nothing better than working with the local community. Living in North-East India and being able to work with communities across the region which is so diverse with more than 100+ tribes across 8 states. Every state feels like a home, the warmth of hospitality gives me the strength to push further.
I feel proud that there are so many aspiring entrepreneurs in the region I am able to connect through my work. Recently when I visited an institute, I was really amazed to find that there was a club which consisted of aspiring entrepreneurs. Being able to break the barrier and give entrepreneurship a go-to path for the younger generation in the northeast.
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