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

[Update 6: The most important one] The article was published on Feb 13, 2013. On Nov 26, 2014 I got married and I am still an entrepreneur. Maybe a year later I would write how it has been 🙂

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

  • Completely agree with the post.

    Even if i am able to make as much as moolah as my other friends working in MNCs being and entrepreneur.
    A girls family prefer a guy working in infosys and TCS rather just stating they are much more stable .

  • Dear all.
    Especially all those who are telling abhinav ” that he thinks too much of himself” or that living with a job is equally good as being an entrepreneur ” – u guys just dont get what he is trying to say…
    1. unless u try ur hand at being an entrepreneur – or working on ur idea and not being paid on a monthly basis, for the time and energy spent on that idea , until it clicks is a BIG thing… job goers will never understand that life….am still not saying sitting in a 9 to 6 job is inferior, But am categorically stating that its way different from being an entrepreneur….what matters in abhinavs words – what u guys shud take home from him is ” Compromising on something that ALL around u has, to achieve something unique, is a great feeling”…compromise made to get a life that ALL ofthem have and miss out on creating that unique thing is like the 2 sides of coin..”… u have to understand that it is BIG CHOICE, like someone rightly said…
    anyway hats off abhinav…. great words with decent insight…

  • Hi Abhinav article is great. Continue writing and inspire our youngsters. Some where some how this ideas should start.
    All the best to our youngsters who will think in your lines and act. But our parents are so concerned not only about the youngsters their marriage and their kids too. So the parents should change their attitude.
    Regrds

  • This is basically what I know will happen to me in the coming future. I was hoping to get married early but to someone who understands my hopes. I’m 16 and planning to change the app world one day. (:

  • It is a nice article and points out to some real reason why many young people in India do not get into start ups. One of the important reasons which I think you missed was that the Indian universities do not encourage start sups and the start up culture itself is missing.

    I also do not agree with everything in this article. Not every entrepreneur is as smart as he thinks. Many successful entrepreneur do need programmers and architects who may be smarter in what they do than the founder. Many of the smartest techies and geeks love doing only technical stuff and do not want to get into management and legal and sales. They love technology. Their motivation in what they do is technology and not money. For some others the motivation might be different like taking a month off every year to travel to something else.

    The world needs such people as well to design rockets to launch satellites, conduct research to develop new medicines to fight new diseases, to increase crop yield to solve world hunger, to develop clean energy alternatives to solve global warming, and so on. Some of these problems require a lot of funding to solve which can only come from governments or large enterprises. Start ups have their place in every industry, but so do specialists. The world needs a lot more things than apps to run.

    • Agree, I was talking about one should do what one loves, either building spaceships or startups or selling tea, whatever it be. But do that, instead of doing what everyone does because the society thinks so.

  • Hi,

    I agree with all the points you’ve mentioned. Its all about balancing things. As you’ve mentioned and its reality that all these sorts of dreams, enthu are more in Indian middle class nowadays, as we know the kind of jobs we are doing. I believe startups can be driven in a planned way, but you need to invest a bit more time n money. Its good not quit job until the feasibility check of your startup is done, Getting revenues Atleast through which your startup can sustain. Nowadays you get people lookin out for jobs and its not at all tough to find one for initial steps. Plan and focus at preliminary stages. Invest time and money based on the progress you are achieving and have a target date within which you need to make it else no risk get back to your regular track. . .getting onto highway is a bit tough but manageable if there is proper planning and investments for right things at right time, Multi tasking is a must.

    And the blog is really good and it really interests people who have failed in the past and it gives confidence to try once again. . .agree with family stuff, and pressures experienced by so called relatives. . .great blogging, thumps up. . .

  • Great and well said… Those who understood and agree with this article are already on their way to success. But entrepreneurship does not come automatically. Training your thoughts and subconscious mind is necessary.

  • Had it been a general article, it would have been well appreciated, but it is the words of a male chauvenist, who in all his examples knows only male entrepreneurs who were pulled down by the 3 (flat, family and marriage)…..people who talk only one side of the story, and find excuses for their inertia in their surrounding would have anyways never taken the risks…..and that is why they dont even take the risks in their personal life…..if as an individual u cant convince the family or the so called hinderance, then how in gods name will you run a business wherein every single second you have to make ppl believe in your idea…from VC, employees, customers etc…..DONT FIND EXCUSES FOR YOUR INERTIA. How many of the indian women are running their small scale businesses from home/offices…woukd have appreciated if it was a perspective of Inida as a whole…not gender biased….Had it been called the DILEMMAS and PRIORITIES of an entrepreneur, it would have gone down well

  • Dude!! If only there was some way I could pass this on to my parents and aunts! I’ll send you their email addresses, can you please email them the link to this page?

    But seriously, the problem with the aunts, uncles and parents for gen-x, probably for gen-y as well, is that if I tell them about all this that you’ve talked about in your post, forget about encouragement, I won’t even get heard..

  • To sum up the whole problem in 1 word “Mindset”.
    It needs to change, look at people’s comments. sad.
    Abhinav, Kudos for writing this.

  • Seems like a cartload of excuses. These reasons perhaps serve as a good platter of excuses to dole out for a (usually) risk-averse, conservative, comfort-seeking Indian male but end of the day people don’t start because they didn’t want to do it that badly to begin with.

  • I’m going through this phase of life and I swear every word written by you is true. It’s hard time but it’s worth of life being Entrepreneur.

    Hope you do well in your life. All d best.
    Thanks for post!

    Cheers
    Devendra

  • Hi Abhinav,

    Good one. Very true thoughts.
    Reality beautifully articulated and expressed.
    Very nice.
    Keep it up.

  • I cant accept everything what u said. Everybody cant be an Entrepreneur.Some of the Entrepreneurs, suceeded after their marriage. Ur inherent deep passion leads where u want to step in. Family support is must to achieve ur vision.But if we are in push of our own will, we will be successful. No matter where we came from, what our relative and family says.

  • Hit the fucking nail on the fucking head. Very well written. I thought it was just me, I’m glad there’s at least one more person who resonates the same issue.
    All the best for your startup. Sharing this post.

  • I am enterpreneur myself and I started pretty late – basically after the company i worked for closed down. I loved my old job and have no regrets for what I was doing earlier and I love what I do right now too. I came across your article and I have a perspective that I wanted to share humbly :

    1) Girlfriends and Marriage – Guys are usually commitment phobic and it is quite normal. At the same time, girls usually like some security in a relationship. There are some outliers but thats how it works mostly. If you want a girlfriend as a stress buster without much emotional or long term commitment, it is fine but it is also somewhat shallow. When you do not have much money but a girl still wants to spend her life with you, it is a wonderful thing. When you have too much money and a girl wants to spend her life with you, you may wonder if she loves you or the money. Its a tricky situation.

    2) Flat : Just like starting a startup, building or buying a house can give immense gratification. Doing both together maybe difficult but people buy houses, especially their first one because it is one of the pleasures of life, like love, like children, like having sisters, like drinking with friends…its not about profit or loss, it is one of those things

    3) Family : Indian families have those Uncles and Aunties pestering you for ever – believe me it has nothing to do with enterpreneurship ; they ask unmarried single women why they aren’t married yet, they ask childless couples why they dont have a child etc and I am sure it is much more painful for them. The last thing we probably want to add to this list is an enterpreneur Uncle who starts telling young people who have just got jobs that they are dumb.

    The key reasons enterpreneurship (if considered different from businessmen) in India is probably still nascent us because of much bigger issues – governance issues, electricity, integrity – e.g Venture Capital investments to a large scale is illegal – FDI in ecommerce(inventory model) is still not allowed for example,

  • Thanks for writing dude. You nailed it. I wish you best of luck and don’t forget to write the story of expressions of your relations once you have become successfull.

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