The business world might appear buttoned-down from the outside – but in reality, it’s a lot more interesting than you might realize. Many entrepreneurs are known for their colorful characters, both at work and in personal lives and few just mesmerise you with their journey of starting up. After all, following rules and staying inside the lines doesn’t often make for business success!
First and foremost, to all those who might be struggling in some way or the other, let me tell you that nothing comes easy in life but if you keep trying, right opportunities will find you, eventually.
From being a non believer in astrology to launching the biggest brand in this field, sharing all the ups and downs that came in his way and how he became a successful entrepreneur. Presenting the journey of Puneet Gupta, Founder & CEO of AstroTalk :
I often come across this question from my friends in a very astonishing way, “How come you into Astrology?,” as I had mocked everyone who ever talked about astrology. However, today I am proud to share my journey with everyone.
Back in 2013, I quit my job with Nomura to pursue my dreams but things didn’t go as planned and I struggled for an year and exhausted my savings. In order to make ends meet, I went back to Mumbai and did some odd jobs as I was not getting shortlisted for any technology job interviews, sighting a gap of 1 year. After some networking, an old colleague referred me to BNP Paribas and I got the job at a pay cut. After working there for an year, I got in touch with one of my school friends, who later went to IIT Delhi, and we both planned to start an IT services company. It was time to put down the papers yet again, and I typed the resignation letter with full enthusiasm (that time I didn’t have to look for email templates on google) but I got very anxious before sending it, as the old struggling days started haunting me.
As I was staring dead at the resignation email, one of my colleagues came over and enquired, “Is everything okay? You look lost.” I showed her my resignation letter and told her how my own negative thoughts are not letting me do what I really wanted to.
She looked at me with empathy and said, “I can see your birth chart and tell you what to do as per Astrology. What are your birth details?,” and she opened one very badly designed app on her phone to input my details. I was shocked and amused at the same time. I promised myself to hire good UI/UX designers to develop better apps than that).
“Like seriously? Do you really think I believe in all this? Padhe likhe hoke aap andh vishwas faila rahe ho!” I scolded her but I wished I could get some help.
She waited for me to complete and demanded, “Are you done? Now tell me your birth details. I don’t care if you believe or not but let me try to help.” I shared the details as I would rather not mess with a senior. But knowing her coding skills, I could totally judge that she would screw up in Astrology as well.
As she was analysing my chart, I waited curiously to know the outcome, the way I had waited for my 10th standard board results. There is something about Astrology, it doesn’t matter whether you believe in it or not, but it fascinates you like nothing else. However, as I didn’t trust her and would never had liked to take a biased decision based on Astrology, so I quickly sent the resignation letter and locked my screen. Meanwhile, she was done with her calculations and it was time for the results.
“You are Leo Ascendant and your Sun is exalted…” I interrupted her in between and asked, “I don’t understand all this. Tell me something about the past to make me believe you,” I was such a spoiler.
“Beta, jitna tu bhaagta hai na isse, aage jake utna jaada believe karega (Dear, as much as you are mocking this today, you will believe in it much more, in future),” She mocked me this time but after hearing that I was convinced she knew Astrology as good as Database designing, as I would never do that.
“You don’t choose Astrology, Astrology chooses you”
Then she told me many things about my past to make her point including the date of my accident in school days, which was shocking. And once she observed the change in my body language, she stopped telling about the past and came to the main question. She not only predicted the past correctly, but was also such a nice observer of behaviour. Oh God! Why the hell was she a MySQL developer?
“Yes, you can quit your job as the next 2 years are very promising for an IT business as per the placement of Saturn and Rahu,” she smiled as she made the prediction. I am still not sure if that smile was for a positive prediction or for the virtual win over me.
“Just 2 years?,” I exclaimed with a sheepish laugh as I had to pretend that I was not interested.
Like every other story this story was also filled with some twist and turns. The twist was that my business partner might leave after 2 years from then and I would face some issues in resuming the business and it might take a year to pivot to a new venture, “But you will make it” she assured after observing my not-so-good body language.
“You can press the send button,” she finally said something with a real smile as she observed that I wasn’t mocking anymore and had surrendered myself, unlike a Leo.
After that I served my notice period and came to Noida and started an IT services company named CodeYeti in April 2015. We managed to scale up very quickly to 45 employees, serving about 15-20 clients at a time and clocked a revenue of $0.5 million in the first year itself. We started working for big enterprises like Yamaha, GreenPly along with startups. Everything was going well until my partner told me that he is not getting a kick from the services business and wanted to do a tech product. We spent the next 6 months on 2 products but ended up wasting capital as nothing seemed to work and he finally quit in March 2017 to do something else.
And that reminded me about the prediction, my ex-colleague had made about my partner’s exit. I called her after a gap of 2 years (Let’s just assume that I was busy and was not bad at keeping in touch) and told her about the prediction. I could sense the happiness in her voice as her prediction came true but she showed concern as it was a loss for me. To my surprise, she knew everything about CodeYeti as she followed our social media channels and congratulated me for what we had achieved in such a short duration.
“Do you want me to check your chart again?,” she enquired.
I paused for a moment and proposed an idea, “How about I start a product in the field of Astrology and I become your first customer?” She halted for a few seconds and said, “Hmmm…I had quit my job 4 months back for some personal reasons, and I can take out sometime to work with you but I won’t be very active, so you will have to find more astrologers. I can connect you with a few in my network”
“Yes Yes !! You can work whenever you have time and you can interview and train other astrologers and we will keep hiring. You can become their mentor and take care of the department of Astrologers”, I said in excitement.
“Hmm…So, when are we going live?” she straightaway asked for a deadline, the way she did at BNP. Some people never change.
And then, there was the ultimate turn – I worked on developing the product and launched an MVP (minimum viable product) of AstroTalk within a month and assigned a dedicated technology & operations team to it. I called her as a customer and asked, “How would AstroTalk do?”
Total Installs: 500,000+
No of Astrologers: 125+
Daily Transactions: 500+
Repeat Rate: 5+ (Higher than Swiggy)
Rating: 4.7/5.0 (Highest in this industry)
Within 1.5 years of launch, we have changed the way people interact with Astrologers and gave 20+ years old companies a run for their money. There were 2 basic fundamental problems with companies in this industry, which we could fix very precisely.
- Companies were run by Astrologers who lacked technology expertise and made a very low quality product with the worst possible customer experience.
- Companies were run by some decent technology people (still lacked a good UI/UX design) who had no idea about how to build a business. They just focused on making money and offered no customer delight. Customer support was so poor that they had a very poor repeat rate in an industry with such high demands.
However, I feel the biggest reason we could do so well was that I never believed in Astrology as I had seen so many fake astrologers my entire life, predicting everything incorrectly, which made people like me hate the concept of Astrology. However, after getting an accurate prediction about my partner’s exit, even before starting the partnership, I started believing in it and I realised that ‘the Astrologer could be wrong, but Astrology is always right.‘ So, I made sure we appoint the best in class Astrologers. It is not easy to get a place on our panel as we have a special recruitment team which reaches out to the best Astrologers from India, and we make them go through multiple case studies and interviews, to be sure about their prediction quality and communications skills.
If you have any feedback, we would love to hear from you. Please reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Entrepreneurship is about turning what excites you in life into capital so that you can do more of it and move forward with it.Richard Branson