In 2008 when a movie with a ‘near – similar’ name was released it showcased a story of 18 year old boy winning a huge amount of money on a television show. That was a movie out of imagination.
In 2008 another young man was pushed to the wall, was hit with a financial crisis and nearly bankrupt. He was down but not out. It was during this time that he came together with a friend with an idea and started company, which today is over 1 billion dollar. This is reality.
Rewind back to 1997, an 18-year-old boy who was brought up in a middle class family ran away from home. He started living in Munirka, a slum in the southwest corner of Delhi. It had been seven months. He wanted to do something with life, something different. Situations make people who they are but only when they counter it, face it and use it to get the best out of them. He did two jobs at that time. The day job included going to every house and selling magazine subscription. Night job was at a tea stall.
It was then when he spotted a ad in newspaper for a business plan contest. He applied for it. He was passionate about the new Internet. He submitted his idea, which included connecting women to Internet for free. Three months later, he found out that his plan to connect the world won.
He won some money and borrowed the rest from a friend’s dad who was a banker. He then launched his internet portal: Women Infoline. The company gave free internet access to women with low wages, and subsidized it with ads.
At 21, in 2000 had grown a company to an IPO in India. All that his parents wanted him to be is an engineer. Here he was exploring himself without excuses. How many times have we put ourselves in uncomfortable zone just to be what we might be worth.
He resigned from this company, got the money and headed to London for further education. He earned Masters degree at London school of Economics. He was attracted to British life and culture. Four days after he had arrived, he started working as a retail associate at the Top Shop clothing store on Oxford Street. Then he spent some time helping the British government build out its intranet, and tried his hands at another couple of startups.
This super guy with a slum to British royal family connection is non other than Ambrish Mitra, CEO and founder of Blipper. With all rides taken he was looking for a job, that he calls ‘proper job’ in 2008.
After his graduation, Ambarish Mitra continued his entrepreneurship by co-founding several startups, including U.K. insurance provider Swiftcover where he served as Head of Innovation. In 2007, Swiftcover was acquired by AXA Insurance. While working for AXA Insurance, Ambarish Mitra met Omar Tayeb, and the two were inspired to create Blippar after sharing a joke in a pub about imagining the Queen of England coming to life from a £20 note. Blippar today is a billion dollar company Blippar is a visual browsing app using image-recognition and augmented reality technologies to overlay the physical world with digital content via the device’s camera. In one his blog-post Rish writes,
“My dad gifted me two books when I was young, both of which had a profound impact on me as a boy. One of them was “If you can’t control your destiny someone else will” by Jack Welch. The other was “Who says elephants can’t dance” by Louis V Gerstner. Those books and my early life experiences led me to realize that life itself is a wave – problems and opportunities, sadness and happiness, failures and successes, lapping back and forth. We have to learn to ride the waves when they’re on our side and learn treat obstacles as part of our path, rather than running away from them”.
This is a story of a typical Indian middle class boy whose parents wanted him to be an engineer but he had different plans. This is a story of determination, courage, will and hard work, all to make your life what you really want it to be.
Most people don’t do well with ambiguity, achievers do. Ambiguity is the enemy of audacity and innovation. It strikes fear in our heart and doubt in our heads.
Don’t be afraid to go where you’ve never gone and do what you’ve never done, because both are necessary to have what you’ve never had and be who you’ve never been.
Not sure if there ever will be a movie about the many Ambarish’s that India has but we can at least spread the word.