Summary of Arise, Awake by Rashmi Bansal

BookSummaryClub Blog Summary of Arise, Awake by Rashmi Bansal

People generally think of India as a bustling, over-populated country rooted deep in tradition. What many fail to realize is that India’s economy has been growing steadily at five per cent per year for more than ten years. This incredible growth is accredited to the rise of young, new entrepreneurs who are changing the way business in India is conducted. It’s one thing to keep track of the success of these entrepreneurs but it’s much more inspiring to learn of their journeys of determination and perseverance. 

This book summary looks at six of these entrepreneurs from all over India and aims to show you how they are changing the way the world sees Indian business. 

In this book summary readers will discover:

  • Shashank ND and Abhinav Lal
  • Sourab Bansal
  • Prakash Mundhra
  • Prabhkiran Singh
  • Aruj Garg
  • Anurag Arora

Key lesson one: Shashank ND and Abhinav Lal

The National Institute of Technology Karnataka wanted more students to be introduced to the concept of entrepreneurship in the early 2000s. They decided to start an entrepreneurship cell called the Eforea E-cell as a way for young people to start thinking about business. Shashank ND, originally from Bangalore, was an average student at NITK but shone more at extracurricular campus activities. He eventually joined the E-cell in his second year and it would forever change his life. He was deeply inspired by listening to other top businessmen in the country. 

Together with another E-cell member, Abhinav Lal, he decided to start his own small business creating software for doctors. The two young men borrowed 10 000 rupees from Shashank’s mother so that they could register their company, Practo Technologies. The two were so determined that even though they did not iron out all the details, they organized a huge event where they planned a presentation in front of a number of doctors. Needless to say, it was a disaster. However, despite their unpreparedness, one of the doctors at the presentation told them to continue with their work. He even gave them something to work on that he found was needed in his practice – reminders for patients about their checkups. 

Shashank and Abhinav worked on software to send automated reminders to patients for their regular checkups. The doctor was pleased with the outcome of automated SMS reminders. Shashank and Abhinav were encouraged by their achievement and decided to work on Practo Technologies full time. By 2010, they caught the eye of Sequoia Capital which was an American venture capital company. They invested in Practo Technologies and by 2015 they had grown to service almost 10000 doctors across India. 

Key lesson two: Sourab Bansal

Sourab Bansal was an ordinary student in university with big dreams. He told his friends one night that someday his company would be worth fifty billion rupees. Sourab had no idea what company it would be or how he would achieve his goal but he knew that he would make it happen. 

His breakthrough came whilst working at his father’s quicklime factory. Quicklime is a substance used in the construction industry to make concrete blocks. One day when he was helping out at the plant he noticed a rather peculiar order. A customer had ordered thousands of tons of quicklime to make autoclaved aerated concrete or AAC blocks. These blocks were substantially bigger than bricks and 70 per cent lighter. The only issue with this type of block is that it was extremely expensive. That was when Sourab realized that if he could lower the cost of the blocks, he could quickly conquer the market. 

He began experimenting with different production techniques trying to find the cheapest one. Sourab also began looking for an investor to get the business going. In India, it is common for investors to be wealthy relatives or family friends that were willing to take a risk on a business idea. The uncle Sourab found to invest in his business was a man named Rajesh Poddar. Poddar invested 100 million rupees into Sourab’s company, Magicrete Building Solutions for a whopping 70 per cent equity stake in the business. Sourab was eventually successful in finding a way to reduce the price of the production of AAC blocks. He was able to cut manufacturing costs by 60 per cent simply by switching to a coal-fired boiler instead of a diesel one. Orders were soon flying in and before long Magicrete was making 1.5 billion rupees a year. 

Key lesson three: Prakash Mundhra

Prakash Mundhra started out studying HR at one of the best institutes in India. However, it didn’t last long. He became interested in the business world and left HR studies to focus on his business ideas. It was during this time he heard of the show called Business Baazigar. The show allied contestants to submit their business plans and the winners would receive funding to start their business. 

Prakash jumped at the opportunity to present one of his plans. His idea was to make kits containing all the requirements for worship or puja on special occasions in India. From the initial 200 000 applicants to the show, Prakash made it to the top twenty. Then he was given 50 000 rupees to create a prototype. He made it to the top ten but was eliminated shortly after. Prakash, however, was not discouraged by the experience. If anything, having to produce a prototype provided him with many important lessons in business. He went back to school even though his heart wasn’t really in it and continued to develop his idea for the kits. He launched Sacred Moments after he graduated and his Diwali puja kit was a hit. Prakash then expanded his kits to include other events. 

Prakash’s business is still booming today. He has seven employees and enjoys every moment he spends living his dream of working for himself.

Key lesson four: Prabhkiran Singh

Prabhkiran Singh also started at university studying something he wasn’t completely interested in. His business idea came to him when he tried a flavoured drink called lassi. It was a traditional Indian drink but Prabhkiran was inspired to give it a modern spin. So, together with his best friend, they bought a mixer, blender and kitchen tools to experiment. They eventually rented out a small space and opened a store called Khadke Glassi. 

The shop became popular due to Facebook advertising and word of mouth. Just four months later, they were ready to open a second location at a shopping centre. However, the new store was only busy if the weather was good. If the weather was bad, sales decreased by 90 per cent. This eventually led to the business failing. This failure, however, did not stop Prabhkiran from discovering a new potential business. His friend Siddharth created a website called Bewakoof and Prabhkiran was inspired to get involved. So, he began printing t-shirts to promote the site. 

From this small step, Bewakoof Brands has now become one of the most popular youth brands in India. They sell up to 200 T-shirts a day and have an annual turnover of 500 million rupees! Prabhkiran’s perseverance was based on the lessons he learned from his failed business. He did not let failure discourage him, he took it as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Key lesson five: Aruj Garg

Aruj Garg left a prestigious law school in Bangalore to pursue the business world. He was a natural problem solver and when he found a problem he wanted to solve, he stuck to it. The problem he chose was one that all students are familiar with – unsatisfactory canteen food. His solution was to put together a tastier menu inspired by Subway which included pizza, burgers and sandwiches. He managed to rent a small space near campus and opened Bhukkad. Within a month, Aruj was raking in two to three thousand rupees a day. 

The business was going well but Aruj’s eating habits led to him having extremely high cholesterol levels. This inspired him to expand Bhukkad to include healthier options as well. He launched Bhukkad Code which did not have any processed meat, white bread or sauces and dresses high in calories. These high-quality and healthy food options were even more popular than the food at his original restaurant. 

Bhukkad now has three locations and three full-time employees. Aruj is still in his twenties and is still looking for the right investor to take Bhukkad to the next level.

Key lesson six: Anurag Arora

Anurag Arora’s business idea came to him because he understood the plight of university students. Just like how Aruj tried to solve the food problem with Bhukkad, Anurag wanted to solve the student housing issue. Being a student in business school himself, he was familiar with the terrible hostels available for students. He had to pay 48 000 rupees upfront for a single room in a horrible building that didn’t even have hot water. He eventually abandoned the hostel for a private apartment that he shared with a few of his friends. 

When new students started looking for accommodation, Anurag saw the opportunity to give them something better and decided to open a hostel on his own. He was given the go-ahead from the university as they knew him as a student. Anurag started looking at potential new properties even though he did not have any capital. Eventually, he started showing students his apartment and telling them the set-up would be just as neat, clean and furnished as his own. This move paid off and when the first student signed on with 56 000 rupees, he had enough money to place deposits on five apartments and to furnish one completely to show to other students. Once again, this move was a good one and more and more students signed on allowing Anurag to get more apartments. 

Ganpati Facilities became extremely popular amongst students making a net profit of 2.5 million rupees monthly. That’s incredibly impressive given that Anurag just wanted students to have a better experience than he did. 

The key takeaway from Arise, Awake is:

If you have a mind for business, you have an opportunity to achieve greatness. Just like the entrepreneurs in this summary, it does not take much except determination, perseverance and the ability to spot an opportunity to get you going. It’s also okay if things don’t work out. Use it as an opportunity to learn and continue your journey as an entrepreneur. 

How can I implement the lessons learned in Arise, Awake:

Try not to overthink and overanalyse too much. If you have an idea for a product, start on your prototype. Do your research and start to test your product. The feedback you get will be crucial in you refining your product before its launch. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes at this stage, you never know what you may learn from them.

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