QPrize-Make In India / 20 Feb
The news was official. We made the top 5 and I received an invite to the finals which was scheduled to take place in Mumbai. The much covered, prestigious event of Make In India week was inaugurated by Prime Minister Modi himself. Along with the invite I saw the attached that listed the Top 5 companies. Interestingly all four belonged to IIT/BITS founders. To be honest, It did make me a little nervous. It is very usual for us in India to see IIT/BITS guys take all the glory. India's start-up success stories are filled with many such IIT/BITS founders. So the odds were against me. But hey, we had a great product. Upon reaching the venue, I got to know we were about to present live on TV and an audience of 500 people. The venue was overwhelmingly huge and the stage was massive. To top it all we got a list of Jury members all of whom were eminent persons.
Only 1 winner among the top 5 will take home a prize of $350,000 which is one of the largest prize money in the Indian startup ecosystem. Another runner up would be given a gift hamper :P
I made acquaintance with the other contestants. Each of them building innovative products that even I could appreciate. Soon it came to me that we were all equally nervous and the contest outcome played on our mind all along. After all it was not just the money, but the Title. I prepared my PPTs and rehearsed over 10 times up to 4am. I couldn't sleep well and I kept thinking about winning. We would get 6 minutes to present and then 6 minutes of Q & A. That is it, that would decide the winner. I was going to present first. I goofed up in getting my company shirt that morning and reached the venue just on time. I was supposed to reach the Airport and my Pilot friend was supposed to deliver me a parcel that was supposed to have my company logo printed T Shirt. I was at the airport at 7 and the rehearsals were at 9. The T-shirt never came and I rushed to the venue and reached at 9:00. My heart was pounding and I could not think straight. My competitors almost thought I gave up since I did not turn up at the venue :D
I remembered the previous such occasion which was back in 2007 when I shot my National Medals in Rifle Shooting. The occasion was bigger and I was all the more nervous. So I said to my self this is way easier than 2007. I just had to focus on my thoughts, say the right things and the rest, Ark Robot would do the magic. I knew going in we had a very strong product. I knew if I present well, just as in shooting you put the pressure on the opposition. That is the advantage starting first. I know there were advantages in going late, but such was my mindset I was not willing to think negative and saw the brighter side in everything that was happening. I presented and covered everything I wanted to say although I said nothing wildly similar to my 10 rehearsals! I did awesome and a few contestants goofed up. The Jury was tough and asked some tough questions. It seemed to me, everything you did in life was getting judged here.
Then came moment of truth. I had my fingers crossed. I began to think how many times in the past have I come close to success and missed. Will it happen today again? I was thinking No gift hamper please :P I stopped thinking negative. I told myself, I gave my best so I should win. Its immaterial whether I am an IIT graduate or not. It only matters if I made a product innovation and the impact of Ark Robot was huge. I then herd the winner pronounced as Ark Robot! Thats it we had won. I went crazy. Lots of hard work paid off. Not just those days of the contest, but all those years of learning and fighting to keep the journey alive. It pays to not quit and fight on. It pays!