Flat, marriage and family – 3 reasons why young Indians don’t turn entrepreneurs!

If you are from India, have been a part of a regular middle class family and have even thought of starting something of your own, am sure you’d associate with the headline itself! Everything that I’ve mentioned below is based on true incidents. I don’t intend to hurt anyone here, still if you did, sorry about it! Getting to the point, straightaway!

Marriage:

About an year back one of my very close friends told me about a product idea. I liked the idea and told him I could work with him on that if he’s willing to seriously build it. His answer was – “yaar abhi job nahi chhod sakta, 6 mahine mein shaadi hai” [Dude, I can't quit job right now, getting married in 6 months]. Okay, get married but why do you want give up on an idea you believe in? Your girl will understand, won’t she?

Guess what? Obviously, he never build it and few months back I saw someone (very famous in the startup community) roll exactly that product out and is quite close to getting funded too! Yeah, my friend’s “happily married”, barely at 27!

Update [Oct 19, 2013]: This guy who went ahead and is building this product recently got funded $150,000 and got featured on Techcrunch too!

I know an entrepreneur who literally fights (or used to at some point) with his wife everyday just because she wants another kid and he doesn’t. His company has just come out of startup mode and is heading towards being an SME. “I have a 4 yr old kid and having another one now would take me 4 years back! I have been slowly planning the financials but this would mean I start planning all over again, save even more and take even fewer risks!” is what he said!

Indian entrepreneurs' struggle

Indian entrepreneurs’ struggle

One of my ex girlfriend had started talking about marriage barely when we had graduated. I never denied marrying her but I used to tell her lets first achieve something, I want to do a few things in life, be a successful entrepreneur and all this might take a little time, there’s no point in getting married quickly and then allocating funds to expenses that could have been avoided at that age, but no, she wouldn’t listen! Of course, she’s happily married and I, having failed 2 startups in the past, am still building another startup! (I hope this post reaches you, lady!)

Oh! And that concept of getting your kids married at the right age => guys before 30 and gals by 26-27 max! I’ve always stressed, there’s nothing called such as a “right age” – why not just get married when you are ready – 25 or 32 – how does it matter? I hope you’re not thinking about that old shit about retiring and then marrying your kids before that <- That actually is the root problem!

Family:
Sorry to say, but the uncles and the aunts in our (normal middle class) families are the worst. They will keep asking your salary, some of them every single f***ing month. These relatives are probably the ones whose kids would have done “nothing” in their lives, graduated from some (worthless) A league institution in India and landed a fat paying job. And believe me these are absolutely good for nothing folks. If you are a startup guy, you already know that, don’t you ;) They would join a company through campus placement and would be too scared/complacent/useless that they would spend their entire life within that single organization – without even doing something innovative! These uncles would be happy to show the entire family that the ad in TOI today was done by their kid while all that ad would have is a bollywood diva holding a soap bar in her hand. THATS IT!?! That’s all you learnt in your fancy B School?

What’s the big deal in it? If I pay TOI that much, they will even publish a horse shit pic, they just want money! But no, these are the ones who are valued in your family! Whatever they say are Golden Diamond words. What’s worse is you are always compared to these dumb folks whenever you go to a family gathering. And most, all of them would look at you as if you are the piece of shit lying on the roadside.

To share another case, one such highly respected family member told me to look for a career in animation, back in 2007-08. Recently, I met him at another family gathering a few months back and he said “tum animation me kuch kyu nahi try karte?” [Why don't you try something in animation?] I was like…dude? You are still the same! Your thoughts are still stuck where they were 4-5 years back! By the way, this member is probably the highest respected person in my family and heads delivery at a multi billion (yes Billion) dollar enterprise and travels abroad every week. Yeah, (sadly) that’s what puts the stamp on his authority! Am quite sure even Steve Jobs or Bill Gates would have spent more time with their families at his age (and still earned much more if that’s what you want to hear).

More problems we face with family/neighbours in this book.

Flat:

The other fantasy about middle class family people is owning a flat! I never get this point. I, really don’t! Why do they want your kid to buy a flat and then spend the rest of his life paying back the loan? Coming from middle class, we’ve never had loads of money to spend. So the way out always is to pay probably a 10th or even less initially and then take a loan for 60% for the next 15-20 years.

And is duly supported by our Financial system! Go and try to raise money for your startup and the same money for a home, you’ll know what I mean!

Once you have a loan on your head, that too a home loan, for not less than 40-50 Lacs, am sure you wouldn’t be willing to take a risk, would you? And that tension of repaying that loan! Anyways, there is very little probability that our kids would stay in that house for long. They’d go places, do stuff in life and make it big themselves! Actually this would connect with Rahul Dewan’s post where he talks how retired people should recede back to smaller towns and do great things. A brilliant thought by the way, go read that!

In another relationship, I told my girl that I don’t earn great right now and that I am trying to build a company and shared the vision. At first she appreciated my honesty but then within a few weeks she asked “Abhinav, hum ghar kab lenge?” [Abhinav, when will we buy a home?] That day itself I knew – she wasn’t the one! No wonder that relationship didn’t last long.(I am quite sure you’re reading this!)

I guess I’ve written, read ranted, too much already or else I won’t be allowed to enter my hometown the next time!

Update: I realized most people, even though agreed to this, say its inconclusive. I must add this: The point is that people who can bear all these pressures and can still build a company, are the ones whom we call SUCCESSFUL!

Update2: Somebody got so inspired that he made a short movie out of this. I got to know from the comments section.

Hi Abhinav

I was inspired by your blog to write and direct a short movie on the topic. It’s now released on YouTube. Thanks for watching and hope you like it!

Here it is:

Update 4 [Oct 23, 2013]: This article has led me to an interview in the prestigious The Week magazine. [Looks like they pulled down the online version of the article, was in their Sept issue]

Update 5: [Apr 19, 2014]: A small section of people thought this blog is sexist, my sincere apologies to you if you think so. However I do not agree with that point and here’s my reply to it: The Flat-Family-Marriage blog raises societal issues and is NOT sexist: Here’s Why

243 thoughts on “Flat, marriage and family – 3 reasons why young Indians don’t turn entrepreneurs!

  1. Dagny

    Abhinav, I would love to agree with this article except for the sexist premise it is built on :

    1) Youre assuming that all this applies only to guys ( obviously, which woman wants to work and be independent in today’s day and age right??)

    2) You’re assuming that the guy is financially responsible for all of these “burdens” of buying a house, supporting his family etc.

    3) The article relies on the assumption that guys, no matter how smart they are (having an enterprenuer-ish streak in them makes them smart for the scope of this comment) , they’re going to seek girlfriends and wives who are dumb (ie no such entrepreneurial ambitions of their own), not supportive of the guy’s ambitions ( you’re assuming they want a house and way you to pay for it ) and eager to get married “early”. Do you think it might be the guy’s issue that he’s seeking such a “homely” woman? If you value cuteness and docility over smarts in a woman, I can totally see this happening.

    So that is why I think this article is sexist and that overshadows the refreshingly un-Indian point of view it presents.

    For your reference, I’m 26, married, grew up in a middle class family, own a house that I bought with my own money, and very happy with where I am in my professional life. And of course female, if my writing didn’t give it away yet :)

    Reply
  2. saakshi

    A successful entrepreneur never nags about his challenges… he only faces to win… have u ever heard bill gates/ambanis say I wish our parents, society or gfs were more supportive… grow up… asking others to change mindsets will need generations… live n make frm the generation u r…

    Reply
    1. Bharat

      Maybe you forgot to read below point, though updated later by Abhinav:
      “The point is that people who can bear all these pressures and can still build a company, are the ones whom we call SUCCESSFUL!”

      (Not all girls are nagging about article like you are doing…)

      Reply
  3. vaibhav

    The answer to the question “what are the top 5 attitude problems preventing you from being a successful entrepreneur?” lies in that post somewhere.

    Reply
  4. Sujan

    Great post! I am pretty much inspired now to make a business. Actually the scenario is pretty similar here in Bangladesh. Keep up the good work. and best of luck for Niswey.

    Reply
    1. Abhinav Post author

      Nitika: I wrote what I experienced. After this post, a few women entrepreneurs spoke to me about their challenges and they mentioned that the feeling or bottom line mentioned here is similar. In fact women face much more challenges than men do. Hats off to who succeed even after that!

      Reply
  5. Prabhat Mittal

    Very true, have felt it very closely. But I think, if it is planned from very starting some of the problems can be averted. like if marriage with a working girl who understands your future plans. But on the other side the problem is you can not plan every thing :).

    Reply
  6. Rajeev Nambyar

    People have different priorities in life…for some its marrying your loved one at the earliest, spending time with ones parents and wife and kids…and work to earn for the happy family….for some, the first priority, its making money and establish a business empire…then only comes everything else…Still they both find success in their own ways!! Anyways Good luck..God Bless :)

    Reply
  7. Atul

    Abhinav, Awesome article ! Sorry don’t have patience to go through all the posts. Did go through some of them and our Indian spirit is evident here – which is, we seem to make totally amazing assumptions and presumptions about the motive behind the article and author! I fully agree with you (coming from town in UP) that our ecosystem does not support taking risks. We who are part of middle class treat ‘secured jobs, own house etc etc ‘ as part of ‘arriving’ to say the least. I quit a “secured” job ( like there is security any where nowadays!) to start my own company last year and have not only two children, house on Loan but also Car on loan on top of that :). The biggest strength in all this has been my wife other wise this would not have been possible. Which is why I don’t agree with your portrayal of woman as spoilers of entrepreneurial dreams, but respect your right of opinion.It has been an amazing journey ( not that I have made millions by the way) both in terms of learning as well personal growth. We are a minority my friend and we are bound to get brick bats! But as I always say to budding entrepreneurs- Luv it, live it and sell it!!!

    Reply
    1. Abhinav Post author

      Thanks Atul for the support. I guess the negativity element this post carries makes you think that I portray women as spoilers. Its just that I have *so far* not found one. I am glad and happy for you that you have. May all of us find such lovely partners :)

      Reply
      1. Bhakti Bakale

        Very true… thanks for sharing this.. this might be one of the reasons of inspiration for me to move ahead with the thought… :)

        Reply
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  10. Anand

    Abinav, Happen to read your post and you have nailed it correctly. Well the point is the society always carry measuring meter and quickly judge you with certain parameters and announce the result.

    Looks like we can relate Entrepreneurship to arranged marriage in our country where others have huge influence for making decisions and setting weird conditions. Most of the start ups do not start at all unable to bear the pressure.

    There is nothing wrong in the failure of product but the problem is threatening when ideas are crushed…

    Reply
  11. SHUBHAM

    there is always a small difference between a dream and a innovation , a idea and a work , the difference is in observation , there are 2 different things one is ambition and other is relation , ambition make person go wild , independent and relation hold you on .. its up to you what you want and if mix both you will fail in both ..so next time move according to priory in spite of hunting new GF and blaming others for there jobs and non creativity search new ideas and implicate because again there is silver between thinking and implementing them .. so don’t blame your girl for this as females wants thing secure so this is in there tendency .. and every thing comes with age tag so think and implement before it’s too late
    i am just showing you the new dimension as for your failure there is whole world but for achievement it is just you .
    so stop acting like that stop blaming other because every person is different having different goals, ambition in life you cannot categories every one in a same category
    What do you think that doing job in Any fancy MNC tag is simple and easy , sorry dude we have struggle each and every day for ourself , for familly , for our survival and for FLAT i think people who are smart are go for it because till now i am not married and sell out my 3 flats they are quick money you just buy them and resell and earn bucks – property dealing as u know ,first flat i purchase on loan and then i start doing this and earning good

    i am not criticizing you but just wanting you to think in different direction because possibilities and ideas are every where

    Reply
  12. Anu

    The incredible sexism in this article made it very hard for me to agree with some of the valid issues that were brought up. Maybe you could broaden your very narrow mindset and consider that women do have dreams and aspirations beyond having another child? Many women would like to be entrepreneurs, but they need to overcome a huge amount of societal pressure to get married and settle down by as early as 20, pressure that is far more than that faced by their male counterparts.

    The entire tone of your article is one that stereotypes women into the category of nagging annoyances that are hindering Indian men and their entrepreneurial dreams. I don’t know what women you’ve been dating but maybe you only seem to connect with very traditional women because you, yourself, have a very traditional mindset towards gender. I cannot see a motivated, driven young woman being attracted to someone like you, who doesn’t even acknowledge the possibility of female entrepreneurs in India, in an article titled “Reasons why young Indians don’t turn entrepreneurs”.

    I also found your use of phrases like “my girl”, “your girl” and “I hope my ex-girlfriend is reading this” demeaning and bitter.

    FYI there are a lot of female entrepreneurs in India. Some at a smaller scale, running beauty parlors, and many at a larger scale, starting NGOs etc.

    Reply
    1. Abhinav Post author

      Hi Anu,

      First of all sorry if you got offended. Secondly, thanks a ton for your comment. While I have received a lot of good feedback on the blog from women and men alike, some have written in to express concerns you have raised and your reply really pushed me to answer you. In fact honestly speaking, I got offended by you terming the article or me ‘sexist’. I wasn’t okay with it so I thought to reply to you. Since the reply was long, I converted it to a blog post itself. Here it goes:

      http://abhinavsahai.com/the-flat-family-marriage-blog-raises-societal-issues-and-is-not-sexist-heres-why/

      Reply
  13. Pingback: The Flat-Family-Marriage blog raises societal issues and is NOT sexist: Here’s Why | Journey called life!

  14. Akash Bhatnagar

    Hi Abhinav,

    Its a great article, which shows the True Face of Indian society.However these are just problems which any ambitious young person will face and we should also look for solutions; either to solve then or dodge them :)

    First of all, coming toward Family, I think as an Indian Boy (specifically) there are lot of responsibilities towards the parents. Most of them are in form of expectations from our Parents, because they really sacrificed their lives in order to make ours.So one should never discard them and try to please them.

    It is most difficult task to remain ambitious as well as being obedient to family and society. In my view, we should follow some innovative ideas in order to achieve all these things (after all they are not mutually exclusive). One way is to get a Life Partner who is equally as ambitious as you. There are several examples from all over the world, where Husband and Wife in collaboration create new innovative ideas, and startups (one of the example is [ ] )

    I think in order to be a successful entrepreneur , one should need make aware people of their innovative ideas which solve there real life problems at almost no cost.Luckily, today we have lot of Frameworks which simply escalate our thoughts at higher grounds.A good family always support your cause. So fasten up your belt and hire some hungry,innovative and energetic minded people who are ready for investment of money, knowledge and skills for new ideas.And with a small and focused effort, we may achieve what we want (although not fully but partially ;))

    Thanks for reading my weird comment :)

    Reply
  15. Pavel Naiya

    You forgot to put disclaimer properly:
    No Uncle, Aunty, GF or Animal was affected in this process of writing this article.

    By the way, like your article. read it on Rodinhood hope to see you successful with your new startup. and give it to the face of all the heater and non believer.

    Love to talk about a partnership regarding you. I am available after 2pm net this week. Let me know a suitable time to talk.

    Pavel
    pavel@ninjainfographic.com

    Reply
  16. Amit

    Hi Abhinav,

    Thanks for this wonderful post, You really pushed me to think what i am doing,I have some great ideas but i don’t why every time looking for support (from friends) , I know nobody come and join until you start by own.

    Reply
  17. Anon

    Those who crib about these things and get bowed down by family and marriage are not capable of running a startup anyway. It’s those who can fight out of these that are.

    Reply

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