How I braved Anu aunty and co-founded a million dollar company is Varun Agarwal’s debut novel. In Varun’s words ‘this book is about how I co-founded my start-up with my friend and our adventures while trying to do so.’ A filmaker at heart, Varun was force-fed with engineering, which he didn’t like (I mean, who did). From bollywood big-shots to successful music honchos like Penatgram, Junkyard Groove, The Raghu Dixit Project this young prodigy (25 is how) has hob-nobbed with all. With slight stubble growth and lots of passion, Varun has braved up to write about his successful venture (and his love interest, Facebook stalking and all) in his first novel. Kicking off dirt from his shoes with zeal, the guy is making brilliant stuff happen. And it’s always delightful to catch up with someone who has made some excellent stop-motion videos our Eds have ever seen.
What exactly do you do?
I’m a filmmaker and I have 3 startups. Alma Mater, where we generate merchandise for students of various schools and colleges (www.almamaterstore.in), Reticular, which is a social media marketing company (www.reticular.in) and Last minute Films, a film production house (www.lastminutefilms.in).
Swell. And that happened after you were….
(laughs) Yes, I got a BE in telecommunication.
Engineering scene happened out of compulsion, I see. Now, how did filmmaking happen?
Yeah, I never wanted to do engineering. I hated it really. But parents, you know. Filmmaking happened while I was still at school. My mom gifted me a handycam and I used to shoot around, making short films and music videos. I haven’t indulged into my filmmaking life in this book though, maybe in the next one.
Now, talking about your book, who is Anu Aunty?
Anu Aunty is my mother’s friend who has always poked her nose in majorly all of my decisions. After I graduated, I was at my toes, trying to start my company but my mum just assumed I had lost focus in life so she set Anu Aunty behind me to put me back on track. The book is also about all those troubles I had to go through while dealing with Anu Aunty. I wonder if you have an Anu Aunty in your life too.
We all do, man. So she is cool about it?
Yeah totally, and she’s read it too.
What inspired you to write it?
I used to write a lot of articles on my Facebook page of Alma Mater about how we started the company. The way we started this company was nothing less than a Bollywood adventure. My posts started getting noticed and I sent some of them to Rupa Publishers. They liked the posts and asked for a complete manuscript. But I had only written a few articles until then involving 200-300 words maximum. And a manuscript needs around 50,000- 60,000 words, so long story short, I was in some appreciable amount of shit.
How did you manage?
It took me to fall ill and be under house-arrest for some time last year. I couldn’t work so I decided to give the manuscript a shot. I was done exactly 8 days later with the finished manuscript (which I completely hated) with around 50,000 words. After making a few changes I sent it to Rupa and completely forgot about it. A month later I got a mail from Rupa saying I’m now an author.
Yay moment! But writing about your company is tad bit early, don’t you think? I mean you’re only 25.
I think this is the most apt time. The book is not trying to give business gyan but it is trying to get young folks like me, you, to take the plunge and not give up on their dreams. Most business books are about biggies like Jobs, Gates and Zuckerberg. These guys have been there and done that. While I love their books I could never connect with them because they are at a level I cannot fathom. At least not now. I would always want to read a book about a guy who has just started because that’s someone whom I can connect with. That’s exactly what this book is trying to do.
Hmm. And directing Preity Zinta and AR Rahman when you were what? 20 years?
(laughs) 21 actually. Even I can’t believe it sometimes. When I was hovering around them as the director, they thought it was some kind of a joke. I got to work with them when I was working in this production company called Phat Phish productions.
Pearls of wisdom for the budding entrepreneurs?
Go ahead, take the leap and then think. Most ideas fizzle out because most of us spend hours just thinking about them and not really doing anything. So don’t think much.
If anyone wants to get in touch for a college talk or just want to chat, you are available at?
Sure. You can mail me at [email protected]. Please don’t expect instant replies though.
Last question, are you a tea-sipper or coffee slugger?
Since 1998, Tea please.