Entrepreneurs ! - Here’s Why pushing yourself into a corner can be a good thing!
It is then that you realize you need to give up or come out swinging.
It was my last year in college and was stuck in the conundrum of what I should be doing once I get out, where I should go to pursue my MBA, what industry I should consider, and what not.
I had so many people giving me career advice, I started to consider myself a project that one takes on in Business or in college and the best part is all the while that people were advising me, there was a very convenient last line being added by everyone, “it is your choice at the end of it”.
Even though the advice for which MBA School and what I should do did not stick, purely because of the number of discussions I had on it, the one thing I did remember at the end of it was that it was my choice.
So when I stumbled upon a few of my friends talking and one thing led to another I ended up as the Director of a newly registered Private Limited Event Management Company.
The reactions I got were typical, do you know the A about running a business? How are you going to make money? Who will pay the bills? Do you have any capital?
Although the question for Capital was answered by my and my colleagues’ parents, I drew a blank for the rest. I had missed the deadline for applications to any business schools as well! This is when we decided to get a popular DJ and do a rain dance, we will make money, we will kill it! Rock the city! We thought.
The next day we all landed up at the office with determination on our faces at 1 pm( I know right). We quickly started drawing up a plan and trying to see how we can raise money. We booked the DJ (Thinking booking the DJ will automatically get us the money we need ), got the production plan in place, and in a few days had a complete product in hand except for the Venue.
Armed with vigor, we started approaching brands for money. None of them gave us any. Being the optimists we are though, every meeting or conversation was giving us a valuable lesson about how a business works, and what a brand considers when shelling out precious bucks. The more rejection we faced, the more brands we kept approaching because we did not have the money to push this through, we did not even have a venue! The time of arrival at the office ( a small sofa in the storeroom of a hotel owned by a colleague’s dad ) had become 10 am by then.
The feeling of not having the money to do anything gave us the push of doing anything and everything to get some money. There was a party where someone needed help with setting up a bar and we went there as bartenders after getting liquor at a discount from a friend's wine shop and selling it to the client at a 10 % discount and we doubled up as the hosts/bartenders just to make that extra buck. At the event when my colleague served a guy a drink, he asked me if we had organized the whole event and my colleague said no, but we are organizing one with a very famous DJ at the time. As luck would have it, he was the secretary of a very famous club here who was ready to give us space at his club if we were to let his members attend the event for free, we agreed and we had a venue.
Then the question arose about how are we going to sell the tickets, so we decided we are going to gratify all our friends by giving them a free ticket if they can sell at least 20 tickets each. What we did not take into account was that we shared a common circle of friends. College was over, social media was just about catching on and in all honesty, it did not strike any of us to use it as a tool to try and sell tickets to friends. At that point, it was all about the profile photos and trying to make new friends.
To further add to the stress all our friends and family had already bought the tickets and the number was 40 only. There was dejection all around as we had thought just getting the most popular DJ at the time would get us our audience, but we did not realize we did not have the medium to sell the tickets.
After the rude awakening of realizing that having a good product does not necessarily mean it will sell itself, We contacted a popular coffee chain asking if they could help, and help they did. They placed our tickets at more than 30 outlets all across the city. A local radio channel gave us a chance to be interviewed by a famous RJ and our tickets started selling, but it was quite late.
Before we knew it was a night before the event, we had sold only 200 tickets out of a 1300 ticket capacity, but with every ticket sold, we had promised someone a great evening, and canceling the event was not an option even though we were broke and had payments to issue the next day, the company would die before being born.
We decided to go ahead with it because we figured irrespective of the mistakes made, only if someone is born that they grow up to become an engineer or a doctor.
We got fliers of the event printed overnight and the next morning, around the time people go out for a jog, we reached and started distributing to passers-by and local tourists informing them about the event. We ended up selling 500 tickets throughout the day and accumulated the money to at least get the event to start.
The rest is history, we monetized not only with tickets but also through the alcohol and food sold at the event and packed the place with 1250 people including the club members. The DJ exceeded the expectations set and all was well.
As I sit here writing this today, I laugh because the choices and mistakes we made were silly and it was just us doing what we thought was right at that time, but the harder the hit we took, the more valuable a lesson we learned.
This company grew to be Pegasus Events, an agency that has been working with brands successfully over the past 10 years now, delivering quality events within the corporate space. I now also run Ting Tong Marketing, A boutique brand and marketing consultancy, and we are touchwood doing some amazing work for brands.
I have a lot of reasons to be thankful, but the biggest one was that unknowingly pushing ourselves into a corner helped us to come out swinging in all directions, helped us start at the absolute bottom without anything to fall back on, and allowed us to climb slowly and steadily to where we are today.
The practical experience takes time and the struggle is real, but it leaves an unforgettable mark on how you end up doing things in life.