Being a First Generation Entrepreneur

Article By: Ashish Rajadhyaksha

Whether entrepreneurship is a product of Nature v/s Nurture is a debate for eternity, and sometimes it’s planned in advance and other times, it just happens! For almost every individual, there comes a time when an event occurs or observations are made that transform their thinking and lives forever.  It’s a truly human experience, and you may call it Destiny, Serendipity, Life’s Calling or anything else!

Ever since I finished my college studying finance and international relations from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, I was trained and planned to stay in the world of numbers and capital markets, and had no particular inclination to start my own business nor thought that I had any creative genes in me. During summer of 2001 while still working at Chanin Capital Partners, my wife and I had gone to California for a weekend, and at a café over there, we saw an adorable little girl named Emma playing with blocks while her mom was busy chatting with her friends.  Sitting there and observing little Emma, I dreamt about a “Third Place” for young parents where friends and family could come to celebrate life with their little ones.  So I risked my high-paying investment banking job at Chanin to start a family-friendly café in New York City.

As any good entrepreneur should do, I hired an outside expert consultant, wrote a solid business plan, created a sound financial model, did all my research, and thought it would be a blockbuster concept.  What could go wrong?  As luck would have it, I hadn’t anticipated the complexities of Manhattan real estate, tough food, sanitation and ventilation inspections, and other issues that entrepreneurs typically face here.  Finance background gives you a good grounding in numbers and models, but does not train you in starting or managing a multi-dimensional business.  For that, there’s no substitute to real life experience and going through the hardships and difficulties of a small business, by either starting one’s own or doing an apprenticeship at someone else’s new business.

Looking back, I’ll always remember what MoonSoup’s commercial landlord told me.  He said, “Forget about all the mistakes you made, you at least got going!”

So remember the takeaway from this short article, GET GOING.   For me, the concept evolved from a café to an education center, and it’s been a truly rewarding journey from the world of investment banking to the world of babies.  Now that we’ve opened a few locations, it’s with immense satisfaction that my business partner and I are able to present that vision of a “Third Place” to a few different communities.  Who knew I had such a creative force in me to complement my analytical side?  You may have that too, so remember to dig deeper inside your core or partner up with a capable Co-Founder(s) who will help round out any experience deficiencies, and don’t be afraid to experiment!  And Good Luck in Getting Going!

The author presents his own experience into entrepreneurship to help readers empathise and know that the experience he shares in the articles is based on his experience as a first generation entrepreneur.

The Tri-Part Series will  continue from July 10th.