How I Braved Anu Aunty and co-founded a Million Dollar company by Varun Agarwal
It is not every time that we hold a book and grin. This one of a kind novel depicts the life of a want-to-be entrepreneur. It teaches as it amuses. It is an eye opener about peer-pressure and the hard truths of one’s own individual life. It can also act as a guide for the budding entrepreneurs in overcoming the challenges in a startup.
The complete story is told in the most hilarious way possible. It is segregated into three parts. The first part starts with the initial confrontation of Varun, the author himself with Anu aunty. He recollects that it all started when he was in sixth grade.
Varun, an engineering graduate has an itching to do something on his own. His mother, along with Anu aunty bombards him with a compulsion to find a job. The temperament of Anu aunty is such that she will be either brag about her son, or intrude into Varun’s affairs. He was always allured towards entrepreneurship. He says he had the idea of entrepreneurship for the first time when he was in eighth grade. He sold brownies in his tiffin box for two rupees to his classmates and went on to sell it to the whole class. He even had an idea to promote it to the whole school!
Despite being constantly bullied by Anu aunty and her friends’ circle for being unemployed, he comes up with an idea. He propagates the idea to his best friend Mal. The scheme was “School merchandising” -retailing T-shirts and hoodies for old students of some prestigious schools of the country.
The first part continues as the idea of their business start to take shape gradually. Varun and Mal after great toil eventually manage to find a manufacturer to supply merchandise. It had a huge peril if things didn’t work out at the old boys association in Bishop Cottons. It was the place where they had planned to sell the merchandise. On the other hand, Anu aunty had other plans for Varun. She insists him to attend an interview. The same day he had an appointment with the principal of Bishop Cottons. The Business name was fixed to “Alma mater” changing it from Backbenchers. Finally, they were all set to sell the samples at the planned occasion.
The second part starts with Varun and Mal selling T-shirt and hoodies in the aforesaid event. They ended up selling all the samples including the ones they were wearing! Following his first success, Varun had to meet the counselor due to the coercion of his Mother and Anu aunty. The purpose was to know what is going on in his life. Later on, their business takes a new shape when they plan to reach out to the customers globally through e-commerce. It was not a cake walk as e-commerce was still in its infancy back in 2009. The following chapter shows Varun tormenting the tradition of following dad’s business. Finally, they get a domain name for their e-commerce site called almamaterstore.in. Their company gets a legal existence too.
The next two parts are where the readers learn. Varun uses the power of Facebook to reach out to his customers in the shortest time possible. Indeed, the numbers appear magically. Anu aunty gets to know their business and intrudes once again. ”Your son is a salesman ya!” she blurts out to his mother. Obviously, it takes a Bollywood saga to convince his mother about this.
As the customers increase, it creates chaos at his house and it is time to look for a space for his business. Ironically, he learns to brand from Anu aunty. How shamelessly she promotes herself and her son teaches him when he desperately promotes his brand. Varun gets dejected by the first valuation of his business. It had amounted to only Rupees seventy five lakh. The lack of knowledge about e-commerce in those days fetched them this valuation. When the accountant who knew e-commerce valued it, the net-worth was Rupees five crore! Here they were with a million dollars company on hand.
While going through this book, it takes us through many places in Bangalore like Shiva’s, Satya’s, noon wines, Koshy’s and so on. Shiva’s was the official headquarters of their business, where they used to discuss everything about it. Varun comparing Kitty parties with engineering classes is the most hilarious part of the book.
The Anu Aunty’s character in the novel symbolizes peer pressure, restriction to out of box thinking and follow the routine – finish degree do the job life. It was detrimental to Varun’s progress. So the title “how I braved Anu aunty” is not only he braved her, but how he came out of the box despite all the hardships- Anu aunty being the biggest one.
The book is written in a crude local language which may attract some or turn off a few. For all the budding entrepreneurs, want-to-be entrepreneurs, job hating graduates out there, this book is for you. It gives a handful of tips about entrepreneurship and teaches how to tackle Anu aunties in our lives!!
4th February 2017