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.Β “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,Β 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 πŸ˜‰ 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:Β 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 πŸ™‚

263 Replies to “Flat, marriage and family – 3 reasons why young Indians don’t turn entrepreneurs!”

  1. Hi Abhinav,

    Absolutely spot on !! Although I live in Pakistan but I can relate to absolutely every single line you have written. Marriage, loans and family pressure of “playing it safe” just sucks a person into a rut. Wishing you a lot of success in your endeavors and looking forward to reading more stuff from you.

  2. i believe nothing can stop a passionate person in achieving his or her dreams…and beauty lies in managing all the 3 aspects (as mentioned by you) yet following your passion/ dream rather than taking these as road blocks…and if one take these things as a block then i believe that person may not be capable of doing it at the first instance… facing and conquering all sort of challenges and managing personal professional life and yet follow and achieve your dreams takes courage rather than only one thing…

  3. This is one of the well written blog, but with immature conclusions.

    The friends/family/aunts/uncles cannot be a reason for ones failure in life or failing to startup. A person who wants to startup will do so without wasting time to think “why I did not turn an entrepreneur”, only to blame on others”. In fact whatever you have written is the crucial difference between “entrepreneurs” and “normal ones” and not reasons for a person not becoming an entrepreneur.

  4. I love what you wrote. I know you put like a disclaimer at the start but I think it was unnecessary. What you say is true and you don’t need to be apologetic for your honesty. On a regular basis I meet people who suffer from the same stuff. I feel that the things you mentioned in this blog amount to what I would like to term – Dream Crushers. So often as Indians we start our careers following a Society Induced Dream Career. A few years into this, suddenly boredom strikes or worse still you see others following their dreams and you wake up. The only problem is that by then you have already fallen prey to the trap that prevents you from doing anything beyond your 9 to 5 – 5 days a week. Hats off to this insight you shared.

    The amazing thing is that most people who read your blog will agree with you but will have no strength to do anything about it. If anyone reads this here is my 50 paise advice…Live your dream…YOUR Dream not someone else’s. What’s the worst that will happen…you Fail. So what? At least you will not bore your grand children sitting in your OWN house saying – I could have become many things in life, but I didn’t.

    1. Absolutely right on that part! The fear of failing is what stops most of the people.

      As far as the disclaimer is concerned, if you will read some comments here, you will know that was necessary πŸ™‚

  5. Unless your parents and/or relatives are funding you, you needn’t worry. But if they are…that’s another story. The truth is we let others choose about what we do in life. Breaking this barrier can set you free. Hint” I’m working on it too πŸ˜‰

  6. haha…that video was a treat to watch…thanks for depicting such an awesome reality πŸ˜›

    Its darn tough here to be an entrepreneur its not like a US culture where starting something on your own is normal and people don’t treat you differently.

    Sometimes, i wish i was born in silicon valley, hell yeah i would have 2-3 startups already

  7. SIMPLY AWESOME!! & SO ******* TRUE πŸ™
    we Indians have worst huddles in this… (@Abhinav specially felt you with the peer pressure)

  8. Spot on !! Am currently working on my start up after a two year stint in a multilateral organization……. You’ve just penned my thoughts !! It hard being an entrepreneur but am enjoying this every second, much more than the last two years of my life !! Life is just awesome being an entrepreneur !!

    -Sahil

  9. Hey Abhinav,

    Very nice article and like most of the people out here, I can relate with it too. Its been a year since I am doing my own business and I still struggle with the above issues, specially the marriage πŸ™‚

  10. 3 breakups coz of this flat thing….99 pc of gals think safer side..
    Alas!!!! I need a woman like Mrs. Sudha Murthy to share my vision ….
    btw…u just read my mind!!!

  11. After 171 responses to your blogpost (so far), I dont think I need to emphasize the fact that your blog totally resonates with a huge chunk of young Indian population. Why it resembles a bit more with me is because I’m also heading quickly towards the dreaded 30-years number and still unmarried, so facing the pressure from the ‘Family’ angle already to finish the ‘Family’ task. And just like you, I’m also a part of a Startup, okay not founded one, but I’m working as a Product Manager here so have pretty much the insight to how a Startup literally squeezes all your juice as an Entrepreneur. But contrary to the common belief, this is propelled my aspirations to become an Entrepreneur (have listed more than 15 ideas already) and escape the rat-race of getting a Consultant job after passing out from a B-School -> Get H1B, go to US and print Dollars -> Get married with an aagyakaari good-looking wife (preferably working as an HR or teacher) -> Reproduce and ensure your kids also follow the cycle. I might need the ‘escape velocity of Jupiter’ to do that, but I will definitely achieve it one day! Good luck on your pursuit..hope to cross ways with you someday.

    – Vatsal

  12. hmm.. Everyone has their own thinking.. Haven’t you seen Sudha Murthy and narayan murthy?
    All u need to marry is a right person.. applies to girl as well.. I also want to be a entrepreneur.. but yes I got married, nice husband and daughter.. may be goal was postponed for some time but if you really want to u can.. πŸ™‚ .. I think u probably donno the fun to be with family

  13. ” These relatives are probably the ones whose kids would have done β€œnothing” 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.”

    What do you mean by A league institution? Whatever that is, do not generalize. How can you say that they are absolutely good for nothing?

    Since you wrote about B schools, did you read this “http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2010-12-26/ahmedabad/28214261_1_samir-barua-iim-entrepreneurs” ?

  14. 27 is not a bare age for marriage.. If you want to be entrepreneur start very early when you can take risk.. before marriage. Preferably drop out of college or after college or side by side do it.. don’t go after job. Don’t go after multinationals.. join startup.. do your work learn and start ur own startup. Best bet.. be in joint family.

  15. Dude !

    Great identification of gap in development of entreprenuer and societal bindings.
    I am a graduate from UK in entrepreneurship and biotechnology. Awesome work !!

  16. I went through your post and I found, it highly resembles the issue of every young Indian of our generation. Though I think the young India is mistaken. I agree with certain points of yours, but I still think it all bottles down upon the Indian mentality which we so frequently refer to. The point here is if you are asking for time to anyone else other than you, then you are treading on the wrong path. You want time, make it, you want your start up to work then make it work. Your girlfriends’ and family and friends have nothing to do with this. If you are walking like the way you have written the post, you are sure to get lost in the puzzles of life. If you are worrying about marrying the love of your life and having a successful career then you need to make it happen or else frankly you need to choose. You want to make it big then break free, because otherwise such a dreamy world is only in delusional fantasies. There’s one saying between med students, “if you want to become successful work hard very very hard give up your sleep and personal life, because everyone else too is just working hard.
    All the best with the vicious circle πŸ™‚

    Cheers,

  17. Ah! Such judgemental writing!

    This ass is another one of those who believe to be doing something great and look down upon others! I can bet on the fact that this ass will not succeed in any of his ventures. This ass is one of those who lately realize that some of those “good for nothing” folks have actually turned into entrepreneurs while the ass is still in deep shit and knows can’t get out of it!

  18. Reality of Middle class. We Indians can’t reach even 10% of thinking to what Americans think. Totally different .Example is Steve Jobs, Bill ,warren Buffet etc etc. Waren even today lives in same house which he build at his early age. V V True– marraige/Flat /Kids a big set back for those buddies who want to achieve something by start ups but are chained by the so called uncles, aunts and his own parents .

    A very good article .Keep it up.

  19. Very well written. BUT A young aspirant is to be blamed in part. Think about it. Say a young couple in love, if their family doesn’t agree for their marriage, they happily elope. The reason is they believe their choice of life partner is right (well time will tell if their decision is right). In same way when some young entrepreneur wants to achieve something and believe that he/she can do it, don’t give a damn to what they say. Well we probably shouldn’t elope from family, but just give a deaf ear, like u don’t give a damn to what they think. I think that works. AS SOME PPL ALREADY MENTIONED IF SOMEONE CAN DO THIS, kudos n congrats already or in advance.

  20. Holyshit, I thought I was the only one of a kind. Good to know there are others two. I have been dumped by girls because of me being an entrepreneur. My mom at one wanted me to take up an office because some dickhead fathers of girls couldn’t understand that a person can operate from home – they still believe Business can only be done in shops and offices. My parents never came in between me being on my own, but they wanted me to be stable to get married. Ditto for Uncles & Aunts – never missing a single opportunity to ridicule me because I don’t do a job. What I have realized is that girls mostly want husbands who have money and secured inflow of money in future, they don’t share the vision to be different and make a different.
    And yeah its easy for a girl to be entrepreneur because still a boy in India is expected to earn a living, what ever gender equality is there is pseudo.

  21. Abhinav, Very true & very hitting.
    but unfortunately though, very true, the 3 dimensions of existence.
    lets math is out! (am playing devil’s advocate here πŸ™‚ )
    suppose i start building the next google or whatever.
    1) The probability that i would make it large, is dependent on over 100 parameters, practically, only 35-40% are those, over whom i could exercise control.
    2) Add to this, that on the other side, i am running on two rigid tracks, time & resource (read money, et-al). This puts serious deviations to the already thinning probability of making it.
    3) In theory, 1 out of 100 get funded, but when in practice, i realise, its over 1 in 500 to 1200.
    4) Luck will take its toll, and either way, i believe it or not, its gonna take a role, whichever side.
    5) If i add all those parameters, the sum total of the probability of success is less than 0.005% . Plz detest this, for higher grade.

    NOOOOWWWW. when you look at the Flat, Family & Fiance (FFF) – BTW, Fiance, already starts sounding like Finance, so be prepared – fools, suddenly, on a maturity level on the sojourn, you realise, that there is toooooooo much betting on a thing. Investment bankers (read buffet & all) say, never put all your money in a basket. In short, hedge your risks. But in a startup mode, there is simply ZERO hedging. And that’s when the real problems begin.

    In a virtual case, if i fail, all these FFF’s would come back, & not even say that look, ‘I told you’, they would rip-of-the-carpet below, and rob you of your confidence & ability to do anything creative, that you would ever want to do in life (Assuming you were almost near to the final exit of your startup, and had to bear serious losses)..

    The point i am trying to make is reallly veryyyy simplleeeeeee !!!
    In my ego & run-up to the passion for the dream i hold, it would be prudent to hold on to the wisdom and ‘follow-the-rules’ laid out informally by the tradition ( Including FFF, friends, religious guru’s, et-al) , even science ( read Maslow ) , get to the basics (read, get a flat, get married, & bring your family, also make some money, donate, do socio, et-al) and then they are the guys, who would comeeeee foooooooooorward to say, “Dekho, kuch naya karne ka socho, baki sab to sahi chal raha hai” .

    In a startup life, its not about failing, its about ‘Not Giving Up’, and quite literally, not giving up every bit of wisdom.

    Hope i am not sounding too conservative, fearful & dejected. But if unfortunately, there has to be a parachute, if you do need to crash land in life. πŸ™‚ And that is common sense.

    Stay Blessed.

    1. @Aalok: If were to think of all these P&C’s in your life, probably you wouldn’t even wake up the next day πŸ˜›

      On a serious note, I get your point. But I’d die happy with the feeling, “at least I tried”

      Pretty good maths skills, by any chance you’re in the finance industry? πŸ˜‰

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