"Build Affordable Solutions to Solve a Real-World Problem" - Jithin Sunny

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1. Tell us about your journey. What inspired you to establish Blue Sail?

I come from an upper middle-class family and there is indirect pressure to perform well in life. I did my schooling at St. Francis School, Hongasandra, and believe that my schooling did play a major role in shaping my personality. I used to be shy and timid up to my grade 7 and that is when a new professor [Mr. Johnichan] joined the school.

It was in my grade 7 that I decided to participate in a debate competition which I believe was a major turning point in overcoming my stage fear. The school’s principal [Bro. Cleatus] was very supportive in sending the students to different competitions and that has helped me gain a lot of exposure. 

Although I did not win the debate, I slowly began to overcome stage fear and over a span of a year, I improved my speaking skills, body language and completely overcame stage fear.

The following year, I did participate in the same debate competition held at my school and we managed to come somewhere in the top 3 [as far as my memory is concerned]. After a couple of weeks, one of my teachers was absent and Johnichan sir came as the substitution teacher. 

I, being one among the tall boys in the class, used to sit in the back benches so that others could see the board properly. He then called me and asked me to pull a chair and sit next to him while the others were talking and making merry in the class. 

He started talking to me in a low voice and he spoke to me for about 30-40 minutes and that changed my life forever. I don’t know how to put the gist of the talk across, but I can tell you all that it was that day I decided I had to do more in life.

During my school days, I did try my hands in everything that interested me. I tried making short films for which my school did support me a lot, tried my hand in Cyber Security, Science Experiments, etc. The following year, I did win almost all the competitions held at my school including debates, essay writing, pick and speak, athletics etc. and Johny sir called my parents that evening telling them that he was happy with my improvement. 

I completed my grade 10 with a reasonably good percentage and was looking forward to killing time during summer break. My mother and sister left for Kerala during summer break while I stayed back with dad. 

As days passed by it became more difficult to spend time alone as dad used to go to his office and that is when dad asked me to take up some courses and he got me admitted to a computer center to learn web-development. It was a one-month course and I finished it in a week’s time. 

After that course I tried freelancing and tried building websites for commercials in and around the locality and I did make some good pocket money. I then thought of capitalizing my skills to make some more good pocket money and that’s how Blue Sail was born.

About a year and a half, we primarily focused on Web Design and Development and the following months we tried our hands at Education which we felt was necessary as most of the Indian Schools / Colleges do not focus on practical learning and skill development and that actually gave us a higher turnover than we expected. 

Today, Blue Sail primarily focuses on providing Hands-on Learning experience to thousands of students with the latest technologies and we have covered about 8k+ students in the last few years. I do have student mentors in my team and they were my ex-students because they love the way I teach things, in a practical manner. I have always loved teaching and meeting new people and that’s why I enjoy my profession.

2. What was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge I faced as a student entrepreneur was definitely raising the capital. Although I asked my dad about it, all he said to me was that he was not confident with me doing this and that I would value the hard-earned money that I make rather than using this money.

Before beginning Blue Sail, I used to work with different companies as a full-time employee during the day-time and as a part-time employee during the evenings. I began doing it from the age of 16. I firmly believed in my idea and kept working towards it. I believe every new entrepreneur must believe in themselves and their idea irrespective of the situation and that’s one quality everyone should have.

3. Did you consider failure at any point? What kept you going on?

Actually speaking, no! I did have some hard times in running the company with regards to the financial part but I never considered failure and to get out of the hard times is when I decided to participate in Hackathons.

One thing I love about Hackathons is that I get to network with some amazing people and make quick bucks. I have participated in over 20-23 Hackathons and have won around 19 of them and that was one way I used to sustain the company whenever we had hard times. I always believed in me and my idea and that kept me going further.

4. Do you have any regrets? What would you have done differently?

Personally speaking, I don’t think I have any regrets. Couple of things I wish I could have done differently were:

Take frequent breaks and go on some long trips:

Being an entrepreneur is no easy task. One fun thing about entrepreneurship is that you don’t have to work from Monday – Friday and from 9 am - 5 pm but you’ll have to work on all days and all the time. 

There were days I stayed up at the office all night and came back home early morning, not having proper food or sleep. Although I plan on taking a 1-2-day break in a month, there are months where I don’t get to do that also.

Not to take up an engineering career:

I don’t think I developed a new skill from the point of academics after taking up an engineering career in spite of doing it from a reputed university. It might be an issue with my perspective. I wish I could have saved that time to do something productive and focus on my business. But I did meet some amazing personalities and had some great opportunities for having studied at that university.

5. Tell us about one valuable lesson you learned that you feel everyone should know.

I don’t know if it sounds silly to few of you but let me tell you that “gratitude” is one key quality one should inculcate. I know that it’s not my talent alone or hard work that has made me what I am. It’s the prayers and blessings of teachers, parents and well-wishers that has helped me come up in life.
Be grateful to people who have helped you directly or indirectly and have prayed for your well-being. Stay connected to them, meet them / give them a call someday and that’ll definitely bring a smile on their face / would make their day. Your small act of reciprocating gratitude will definitely bring you abundant blessings. I am telling this out of my experience.

6. What is your advice to our young readers, some tips for someone aspiring to be an entrepreneur?

To all the young readers and aspiring entrepreneurs, one thing you all need to keep in mind is that if you have a business idea, network with potential people whom you think can guide you or help you, share your ideas with them [don’t worry! Nobody is going to steal your idea.

Finding an idea is easy but refining it and executing it is definitely not a cake walk], take their suggestions into consideration if you feel it makes sense. Nobody can judge an idea’s success rate at its initial stage because every idea is unique in its own way. It’s not the idea alone, but the way you execute it that defines the success.

Being a first-time entrepreneur, you might find it difficult to raise the capital. If you believe in yourself and your idea and if you are capable of raising the capital alone just go for it and take the path that is “one less travelled by” and it will definitely make a difference.

I would like to take some lines from one of Jack Ma’s interviews and I do agree with that. When you are in your teenage years, you have a lot of time and energy but no money. When you are in your 30s, you have money and energy but no time. When you are in your old age, you have money and time but no energy. Try to strike a balance among these three. 

Being young, take some risks and work on your ideas than working under someone. Make sufficient mistakes and learn from them. For the ones born in developing countries, you are really lucky! 

You are in a land with hundreds of problems. Try to solve the problems around you and capitalise that! Nobody wants cool and fancy solutions [ except the richest category people]. 

Build affordable solutions that can solve a real-world problem and not complicate it, target the larger market, and dream bigger.

A quick tip: In case if you are unable to raise capital or require mentoring, become a part of start-up accelerators or attend business idea competitions and you’ll be able to make it. Wishing all the young readers and aspiring entrepreneurs all the very best for your future endeavors.

- Jithin Sunny, Founder at Blue Sail

- Interviewed by Agatha Coutinho

"Build Affordable Solutions to Solve a Real-World Problem" - Jithin Sunny "Build Affordable Solutions to Solve a Real-World Problem" - Jithin Sunny Reviewed by Shilpy Sharan on June 24, 2020 Rating: 5

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