What Drives You

It’s 1:30 AM, and I’m lying wide awake having a million things run through my mind. So far, that’s par for the course. However, for a change, I decided I want to write my thoughts down.

The past year or so has been ridiculously crazy, unfortunately often for the wrong reasons. In that time I’ve shut down Twocents (though my heart’s still in it), went through a phase that I’m certain WebMD would call depression (then again WebMD would probably say everyone has depression) and, to top it all off, had a few months of my life written off thanks to a horrendous bout of Tuberculosis.

And yet, I’m sitting here quite grateful for everything I’ve been through. Sure, I could have done without certain aspects, but I genuinely believe I’ve learnt a few lessons.

About a year ago, nothing mattered more to me than succeeding with Twocents. I had given it my all and believed that I was onto something great. All I needed was an investor who shared my vision and was ready to fund it. Easy peasy, right?

WRONG! Investors in India typically don’t care for a one-man team for a product that, despite showing some interesting data, was yet to catch on. Whether that’s fair is a topic for another discussion. The stubborn guy that I am didn’t want to hire anyone but the best, which meant people I could in no way afford until I raised funds.

I ended up spending a ton of my time trying to solve this chicken-and-egg problem. I tried to become a “hustler”, as the startup crowd love to call it. I did get quite far, reaching GSF Accelerator’s final round before they failing to make the cut (which they did with a smaller number of companies last time). I try to console myself by remembering that flying solo, I really should not have lasted that long, particularly after a horrible pitch session in the dead of the night after a 24-hour flight and a long, long day at a conference.

But, the fact is, I failed. And I’m bloody thankful for that. By sometime in August of last year, I was left running on fumes. I was heartbroken, stressed, unmotivated and, as perfectly described in an episode of How I Met Your Mother, struggling to find a reason to put on my pants.

The next few months weren’t a lot better, since the memory of what had happened was still in my mind. As I tried to get past it and decided to make an effort to get a bit healthy, Tuberculosis struck. Even though I knew I’d always get past it, there were a lot of horrible moments.

Finally, as the ides of March arrived (I’ve always wanted to use that phrase since reading Julius Caesar 10 years ago) I had started to recover. Driven by a need to recover the time I had lost, I put my energy into Haptik.

It’s during this time that I slowly realized something: while working on Twocents, I had forgotten the real purpose of why I was doing what I was doing, and that is a major reason why I had failed. I started out with Apps Culture back in 2010 with this childish enthusiasm to just “build something cool”. I lost my way, tempted by the millions and billions everyone else seemed to be making.

Once I remembered the motives that had actually inspired me to do what I do, I found myself free of a number of burdens that I had put on myself. I found my mind at ease, able to think more clearly. In the past two months I’ve released and open sourced Elections 14, open sourced RobotoText, released #pixelpushing into beta, designed something thatGotStared.At should be releasing in the near future, launched Apps by Indians and, to show that I’m not ignoring my employers, released two key features with Haptik that were never on the roadmap until even mid-April. I also started reading novels again, something I once loved but hadn’t done so for over 5 years.

Don’t ever let anything deviate you from your goals, yet never let money or fame become your goals. That road will only lead you to a life of unhappiness. If you retain your original, most basic motivation, and work hard, success will eventually find you. In it’s own way.

Also, I’d like to highly recommend this video by the great Conan O’Brien, who knows a thing or two about failing. Most people go to Steve Jobs when they look for a speech to motivate them, but I think this one will come in hand at the more crucial moments in your life.

About me

I’m a Google Developer Expert for UX/Design, and the Product Manager for Mobile at Haptik. If you’re working on something interesting, I’d love to hear about it!