A fistful of entrepreneurs are packing their bags to take the high road to success, says ARTI SHARMA
It goes beyond the desire to turn wanderlust into lucrative business. A handful of young, first generation entrepreneurs with middle-class, conventional educational backgrounds are pushing the envelope to set up businesses in unknown territory.
How else would you explain engineers, management graduates and other professionals chucking up lucrative, staid jobs to set up paragliding schools, guesthouses, trekking and biking holiday companies and travel agencies, with no prior experience or antecedents?
These aren’t easy decisions to make considering the risks involved. But if Sanjay and Astrid Rao, Rajinder Singh, Ashis Das and Abhik Dutta, Melissa Almeida, Jayesh Morvankar and Deepankar Basu were given a choice between a regular nine-to-fiver and struggling to make ends meet, they’d all unanimously pick the latter.
Shaking off old garbs and conventionalities, all these people have redefined their lives, needs and ideas of success.
“Materialism is no longer related to luxuries but making ends meet. As long as that happens, we’re happy and anything over that is a bonus,” says Sanjay Rao of Nirvana Adventures.
Coming from a conservative south Indian family of doctors and engineers, Sanjay was expected to follow suit. He toed the line with an electronics engineering degree and stints with Zenith Computers and Dubai-based Jumbo Electronics.
Two years with Jumbo and he was ready to get back to India to find his true calling. “I earned and partied a lot, as a result I was always broke mid-month. I decided it was better to get back to India and be broke here,” laughs Sanjay.
On his return he took full advantage of the upswing in the stock markets in the early nineties. About the same time, he met Astrid, an advertising executive working with Lintas, through friends and got married years later. They discovered a common love for nature and decided to buy some land in Kamshet, 120 km from Mumbai when the opportunity arose. “I grew up in a green environment and suddenly it felt like the city I grew up in was closing in on me. I had to get out,” says Astrid. Sanjay also discovered paragliding through friends.
Initially friends would drive down to Kamshet to spend barbecue, beer weekends. They then started asking about learning paragliding and that’s how Nirvana Adventures, the school, started.
Astrid then quit her job, conceived the website and the residential facilities called Native Place. Today, apart from trained pilots, students and corporates come over for weekends of flying and Sanjay’s hospitality.