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The Man Behind 'How I Braved Anu Aunty & Co-Founded a Million Dollar Company'

 24th Feb 2017    22:44    Simran 


He isn't like any other entrepreneur you have seen or met. At first glance he looks just like a regular guy in his twenties, wearing canvas shoes and sporting messy hair, at ease with himself. But in fact, he is not. He is an entrepreneur, a filmmaker, an author and just recently started a pizza joint of his own!! He is Varun Agarwal, the author of 'How I Braved Anu Aunty and Co-Founded a Million Dollar Company'.

Varun Agarwal's 10 things for a first-time entrepreneur!

1. Don’t be an entrepreneur just for the heck of it. There’s no point in getting into a business that everyone else is already doing. Like the guy who wanted to get into the soft drink business but then he invented the straw.

2. Don’t just start a company. Start a whole new industry. Remember Post-Its.

3. Never give up. The guy who started Victora’s Secret sold his company and jumped off a bridge before it became Victoria’s secret.

4. Don’t be afraid. Ron Wayne was so afraid of starting a new company that he backed out of his partnership contract. He is now living on his pension. Oh, I forgot to mention, the contract was for Apple Inc.

5. Good artists copy, great artist steal. The entire Macintosh idea was stolen from Xerox. and then Microsoft copied it from Apple.

6. Sell yourself shamelessly. Branson is probably more popular than his own company Virgin.

7. Be creative. Very creative. There’s this guy who took a circle, put a price tag on it, patented it and made billions. It was called the hoola-hoop.

8. Don't wait. Jobs, Zuckerberg, Gates were all billionaires before they were 25. You don't wanna wait to be 35, with a wife and 2 kids and then start a company. 

9. Improvise and move along with the times. Nokia started as a rubber product company. Apple now makes phones. And Microsoft, err, they’ll probably be getting into home appliances soon.

10. Print your business card with a dummy company name and CEO written below. Distribute this among all your friends. After 6 months you better start your company or you’ll be the laughingstock of the entire town. Michael Dell did this when he was 16. One of you reading this must be probably working for him.

Varun Agarwal's decision to "not think" and bust myths about unconventional career choices has helped him create a niche for himself in the big bad world of entrepreneurs. He is now a household name and revered by aspiring entrepreneurs all over the country.

It wasn't until he failed at engineering that he experienced his eureka moment of success. Engineering was not what intrigued him and failing at it just made him realise that he no longer had to prove anything to anyone. He had been running the wrong race this whole time. He had to find his race and so he picked up his Handycam and started shooting movies like he always wanted to.

This is how his first company came into being-Last Minute Films.

With the Big Bang that was YouTube, Varun started uploading his videos online only to get noticed and bombarded with professional offers. However, on consulting with his mom and Anu Aunty (contributed immensely to Varun's success) about taking up a job as a director at a production company in Mumbai, he was forced to "think". Dizzy with all that thinking he went back to completing his final year of engineering with a knot in his stomach.

Done with his ordeal and determined to direct, Varun went back to Mumbai hoping that the production company still had a job for him. And surprisingly they did. That's how he got a chance to direct A.R. Rahman and Preity Zinta. Not only was this quite a feather in Varun's cap, it also proved to be a stepping stone towards entrepreneurship.

It was Mr Rahman's words of wisdom that made him come back to Bangalore and start a venture of his own.

When do we truly believe that anything is possible? When we lose all inhibition. And getting drunk is one way of doing just that.And so he got hammered in a bar one day and voila, stumbled upon his grand business plan.

His idea of a moneyspinner was to start a company that made merchandise for schools and colleges. And what better place to start than at his own school fair? He had an incredible sale of 2500 hoodies on the first day itself and that's when he knew he was onto something.

Words about this spread like wildfire and soon other schools and colleges started demanding their own hoodies. Varun realised he had to come up with a solid plan if he had to do this for the entire country.

‘It is moments like these when everything becomes real when you have to put every penny you earned into something you believe in.’ - Varun Agarwal, How I Braved Anu Aunty & Co-Founded A Million Dollar Company.

And that's how Alma Mater happened, an online store for school and college merchandise. This stroke of genius however brought with it more trouble than he could ever imagine. His parents were worried that he was up to no good at all and his mother started losing sleep over whether he would get dowry or not. His friends, on the other hand, were puzzled.Instead of focusing on securing a regular job like them he was putting everything at stake to chase a dream that neither of them was brave enough to have. And Anu Aunty, well, she called him a t-shirt salesman. So all was not well in Varunville and it was time to "think" again.

Reflecting back on that moment of failure in engineering he realised that nothing life-threateningly bad had happened to him back then.And nothing bad would happen now, at least nothing that he couldn't bounce back from.Infused with this new-found optimism he decided to give this a shot but experienced true success only after a year had gone by when at the same bar, a kid wearing a hoodie from Alma Mater walked past him.This is when he realised the enormity of all that he had achieved.

Coming to this Anu Aunty character, who is your quintessential next door neighbour that just can't seem to keep her nose out of your business. Varun always went around secretly shaming her in front of his friends because she was this incredibly nasty women who was always hating on him, making snarky remarks about him and trying to convince his parents that their son would never make it big in life unlike her son who was in this MNC. And then one fine day a friend of his suggested that he should just write a book about it. And so he did.

"How I Braved Anu Aunty And Co-founded A Million Dollar Company" not only went on to become a best-selling book but also proved to be Alma Mater's greatest marketing asset. Never in his wildest dreams had Varun imagined that Anu Aunty of all people would become the brand ambassador of his company.To top it all off he was getting paid for marketing his own company!! For a bootstrapper, life couldn't get better than this.

He later went on to start his third company, Reticular-a social media marketing company. And opened a pizza joint, because why not? He has given countless talks all over the country in esteemed colleges to inspire budding entrepreneurs. Always in tune with the latest trends, he constantly innovates Alma Mater by introducing new features. He is currently writing a sequel to his book which should be out in August. So be sure to grab a copy before they run out because you know you know you don't want to miss any more of Varun Agarwal after reading this.

Varun Agarwal, a first-generation entrepreneur is an inspiration for all those with 'Anu Aunty' in their lives. Come to Renaissance '17 and hear many such inspiring journeys to kick off your career.