This is not my story! This is my life, my journey so far! Only motive to share this, if I can do it, anyone can do it.
Nowadays, I am working from a one-room office in Bangalore, India, something I started in the year 2018, March. As of Feb 2021, I am able to make a little bit of profit, so that I can run a company of 7/8 people and a few freelancers. The company is TSInfo Technologies.com.
During the last 3/4 years I experienced a lot of things. Experienced a lot of things like:
- How does the IT industry work?
- How do people work in IT?
- How difficult or easy it to leave a decent-paying job?
- How to start a business from zero or very little investment?
- How to choose people to work with you?
You will never fail in life, you will get valuable experience in life. No failure it is just experience.
I am happy now, running something own, not working for anyone. And a few talented people working with me and supporting me to run the business.
- My Early Life… Education
- Early Job and Life…
- How I started Fewlines4Biju.com and lots of other web sites
- Best and the Worst Company I worked for
- This is how I started something my own…
- Meanwhile, our Business Partnership Broke
- Again All Alone
- Respect your employees
- Why I said NO to an investor
- How I became a Microsoft MVP
- Final Words
My Early Life… Education
Do I ever think I can even do a job? No, never! I never thought I can even get a job after doing MCA from a reputed college from Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
I was so bad at aptitude and reasoning, even afraid to attend the campus interviews. You know why? I was so dam sure I will not be able to clear the first round.
My intention was very clear, will do a professional course like .NET or Java, or SQL, and then will try a job in Pune or Delhi & NCR. Sometimes, I feel, choosing to go to these locations was really a very bad decision.
Got a very bad suggestion from various friends, seniors etc, that Bangalore is very costly and etc. etc.
During the 6th semester of MCA, I thought I will do .Net course and during that time, one top place for doing the course was Hyderabad. I joined a friend in Hyderabad and did the .NET course there. Dr. Ramalinga Prasad, one of the best teachers or trainers I have ever meet.
After completing the course, now time to go somewhere either Delhi NCR or Pune.
It is funny, how I came to MCA and the IT field.
To be very honest, I have no idea what exactly people do to get a job.
For me, it was like 10th -> +2 (12th) -> +3 (Graduation) and then I was clueless about what I will do because I did not want to do PG or lectureship. One of my seniors from my graduation, suggest that you can do MCA or MBA. Also, came to know MBA is on the marketing side, I thought it is not my cup of tea. So I choose MCA.
Due to financial problems in the family, I thought we will take coaching for one year so that I can get into a government college. Wasted one year but luckily got into a govt. college.
I was so bad at studies, if I remember it correctly, during BSC out of 8 papers 6 were back. Then I don’t even remember how I completed BSC in Physics.
Then how can no back in MCA? I cleared all the papers at first attempt only. All credit goes to one of my very dear friend, Prabin. He helped me during examples almost in all the papers. Not at all feeling shy to accept this, because I was really terrible at the studies.
Any how completed MCA in 2006 from CITE, Bhubaneswar (BPUT University).
Early Job and Life…
3 friends of mine were there in Pune and I decided to go to Pune rather anywhere else. I gave one interview at Pune with a good product based company for a .Net developer position.
Guess what, I got rejected. Not because of the technical issues, but because of my communication skill, I did well in all the technical 2 rounds. In fact, we were two for the last round, the other guy got selected. My English was so bad (inf act now also it is almost the same), the interviewer even asked me if I usually talk like this or this is the first interview, and that’s why I got so nervous.
And there my Pune time over.
Decided to go to Gurgaon for a very stupid reason.
You might have heard about lots of fake companies, who will promise you to give a job, but you have to pay a good amount of money to them. I got in that trap. I am blaming no one for that situation.
If I remember it correctly, we do not have money to give, my mother has to sell whatever gold she has to collect the money which I wasted in a bad decision.
This was the worst phase of my life, I never told anyone about this also. Those nearly 2 years of my life were like hell, I do not have even words to explain how I survived, with no money, no job, already wasted lakhs on money… Oh my god, I only know those times how I was staying at Gurgaon. Those time, I also experience, how people change according to the situation.
If any freshers reading this, do not get into that trap, no one can give you a job by taking money. Keep that money with you, prepare well for 3 months and you will get a job. I cannot promise you a high salary, but you can contact me, I will give you work, will make you a true professional, without taking money from you. That’s why very soon I am going to start a free training programming. Don’t worry there are a number of ways to earn good money in proper ways.
During that time, I was thinking to come out all of this things and will have to start searching a new job in .NET field.
God always has a plan, you just keep doing your part.
Here comes another friend, Netrananda from my college. Here referred me to Rapidsoft Technologies and I started my professional journey from there. Thanks, Supriya ma’am the founder and director of Rapidsoft Technologies for helping me personally and professionally every time I was in need during those 3 years.
The company I join when there were I guess 4/5 people and when I left the company was nearly 100 people. Now if I am not wrong there were more than 250 employees working there. A true entrepreneur Supriya ma’am.
When I started, my salary was Rs 3000 and the smile on my face after getting my salary, can not explain the happiness. Till now, I never have that smile on my face even if I am earning a decent amount now.
I remember I took a shirt from that salary.
I got to learn a lot of things in .Net. Got some good projects to work on, got a chance to work with a few good people like Rohit, Shipraji, Navneet sir, Geeta, Narendra sir, forgive me if I miss some name. Overall it was a good 3 years time I spent.
Trust me on this, if you will do good work, some or the other way, good things, good people will come in your way.
How I started Fewlines4Biju.com and lots of other web sites
I was staying in Gurgaon and nearby a few of my friends were staying, But me, Ashok and Elena, we were very close and share good weekend even weekdays discussing and chit-chatting.
There I meet a very dear friend and elder brother Durga Prasan Samantray. He was working in HCL in SharePoint. I came to know about SharePoint from him.
That time I experienced Self-study. I read 3 books in SharePoint in a month with the job and started learning SharePoint by myself with the job.
From that time to till now, I am in SharePoint, never changed to any other technologies.
If you want to learn something, learn by yourself, that is the best training you can get…
But how the web site idea came to my mind?
Rohit, my friend from the first company has a web site, http://www.rohit-sharma.com/. I asked him about web sites, blog and all.
I don’t know how much I understand, but I decided to create a web site. I do not have any idea on any blog platform or anything, for me is to use .Net for developing a web site. Since I was working in Asp.Net and creating web sites and also, it was not difficult for me.
The whole night I worked and all most completed the coding part so that I can write a post and save it, it will save in sql server and display the details on a page.
Always good to have people like Shipraji and Rohit in your friend list. I asked Shipraji to design a page and she was kind enough and spend sometime outside the office hours to gave me a design and I implemented in the web site.
With the help of Rohit, I hosted the web site Fewlines4Biju.com and the web site got live.
I think it was the year 2008 when I started and was started writing about a few personal posts and then I shared a lot of tutorials on SharePoint. Whatever I was learning, was just keep on posting. And within a few months, the site got very popular, people started knowing me as a SharePoint professional.
I never knew those web site things will be a full time business for me that time, even I did not knew, people can earn money from a web site.
Best and the Worst Company I worked for
With due respect to everyone I am just sharing my experience here. No company is bad or good, something might be good for me but for others that might be very bad and the vice versa. My point is to just share my experience here. Here, I am going to tell two big company names. If you are working any of those, do not take the other way, it is just I had a good or bad time.
The best company I worked for is HP (Hewlett Packard).
Mind blowing collogues, managers, working culture. Everything fall in place for me in HP. I worked 2 years are a contractor at HP from KPIT and then 2 years directly with HP, and never felt any difference.
I remember, was in tears when I was coming out. Could not able to say bye properly. Naveen, Kathir, Aloy, Suresh, Mohana, Saktivel, Kathirvel, etc etc, super people. I am still in touch with them.
Could not able to realize when the 4 years went by. The mindset of people was different in HP. They really appreciate you if you work properly.
Overall these 4 years were my best time.
Here they value People over work.
The worst company I worked for was TCS (Tata Consultancy Services).
Yes, for me, TCS was the worst company I worked for. I left HP to join TCS and it was like a hell and heaven difference.
Nothing worked for me here. Not only in one project or account I worked on here, worked in 4 accounts in TCS and the working culture of every project was the same. The mindset of people was the same.
Lot of people say TCS is like a government company, do not understand why people tell like that.
The security guard will decide if you dressed properly or not. And it will be a nightmare in case you forget your ID card.
I remember, one fresher from the RMG team called me at 11:00 AM and we reached 11:10 AM and guess her response. Come tomorrow, I told you to come and meet me at 11 AM. I said WTF really???
And the way, there senior management treat professional was horrible. The people who are at onsite, my god, they usually thought, they are the people who are running TCS, else it would have been closed from long back.
Any way, do not want to go in detail, every second was torturing there at TCS.
One thing TCS did with me was it gave me energy to leave and start something own. I thought nothing worst will happen than this even if I will leave my job and try something to do myself.
This is how I started something my own…
Bijay, I think your 8 hours are not completing, a manager told me! The whole night I thought about it and then send the resignation the next day. And my entrepreneurship journey started…
While working in the first company, always I wanted to do something own. It was there from the beginning, to work for myself, not for another company.
But I never got the courage to start it or you can say never got the courage to leave the job.
In an interview, I meet Bhawana Rathore, who was working with IBM then. Later she joined TCS and we worked on the same project. Her husband is from Odisha and I even had a good friendship with him.
Bhawana encouraged me a lot, a lot… She had strong belief that I can do it.
After some days, I tried to convince her, that we both can start. She was very much dedicated and passionate about work-related things. And I was 200% sure, if we both try hard then we can make a profitable business a couple of years.
In fact we had a lot of discussions how we can start, what will be the plan, etc. etc. while working in TCS.
We were at the client side from TCS, one day I went for a tea and for some reason I got a bit late (I could not remember properly, but may I was talking with a friend), then the manager came and said, Bijay, I think your 8 hours are not completing. It was just a heartbreaking statement for me. I remember in TCS, Bhawana and Me went to office contineously for 12 weekends, its almost, 3 months without even a day break.
While working for any company, I never cheat meaning, never thought I have this much salary, I should not work this much. I love SharePoint so much that never thought of compromising anything for SharePoint.
Already had a discussion with Bhawana regarding this. The whole night I was thinking about it and the next morning, I search for a resignation format and put down the paper. I think it was Dec 2017.
So, our corporate journey ends there. Yes, Ours!
March 2018, I was free from the corporate world after serving 3 months of notice period.
The intention was very clear we will work together and will never come back to job life.
Bhawana went on maternity leave and I went to start a so-called startup with no idea what exactly needs to be done. So the plan was, I will keep trying my best, and then hopefully till her maternity leave over, we will have something profits, and then once she starts working, we were sure, we will make progress well.
I told my family, brother being in IT understand well and also told him to reduce the house loan amount to half so that he can only pay whatever he was paying. Do not want to put any additional burden on him. Everyone was like what, why u are leaving a job (salary was coming around 1 lakhs in INR). But I knew what I am doing.
EnjoySharePoint.com was giving me around 10K that time (from Google Adsense) and already I was taking a few trainings, so I thought I will be able to manage at least 50K with full time. The other web site SPGuides.com was not giving that much money.
The idea was to focus on the below things:
- Web site
- Trainings Classroom and Corporate
These are the things, I thought I will focus on. That time I did not want to disturb much to Bhawana, so it was mostly my decision. We usually discuss these things but kind of I was confident I can work on this.
Theory and practical are two different things. Theoretically, you might think a lot of things, but when you will try to implement, it will be completely different.
The first thought that came is to my mind is to hire a few freshers and the idea was to give them training and start working on projects. Company TSInfo Technologies (OPC) Pvt. Ltd, I already registered in the year 2016. Hired 4 people at the beginning and started giving them the training.
Lesson-1: Practically I felt why companies asked for experienced resources for projects. You will think, hire fresher, give training and then project work, no it will not work that way.
I realized, not possible to deliver project with the professionals I have. Not that they are bad or something, but I do understand, they need to do practice, it is not easy for them to work like an experienced guy.
Meanwhile, EnjoySharePoint.com crashed just after one month or so after I left my job. GoDaddy said I need to take a dedicated server for this and that would cost me more than whatever I was earning. I remember still I went for this. I took a dedicated server and hosted the site.
And I engage them to write a few articles for the site.
Mean while I got busy in taking some trainings, corporate trainings. It was more frustrating, because of timings, and number of people in the training batch.
By that time, nearly one year gone and all my savings were over. I borrowed from my friends whatever I can.
Even Bhawana also helped me financially during those times. Without asking her, she transferred me and I manage to give the salary. Those are the times when the income was like zero.
Lesson-2: Whatever the business idea, just have some savings or a source of income. Some money should come for living.
I was working like more than 15 hours daily continuously but no money was coming.
Though I rarely go to temple but I have very strong faith on GOD.
I meet Sumit Bansal from TrumpExcel.com. It was life-changing for me. I have never met such a humble and helpful person in my life. He is a very successful person in the website world, you can say in the blogging world. He is an Excel MVP and I am in a SharePoint MVP, we meet in an MVP event. We were in touch.
But during this time, we talked a lot and he guided me a lot.
After taking a dedicated server also, the website crashed again. This time Sumit guided me to move to WordPress, rather than having the self-hosting, if I remember correctly, we have skype calls and he explained everything.
There were more than 3000 blog posts or articles were there apart from posts on Jobs and Forums and a few .Net articles. And there was no tool to migrate this. Manually we need to copy and paste and insert images, etc. I calculated if I will engage everyone including me, it will take more than 4 months. So I decided to move the SharePoint articles and then the .Net tutorials and not to add the forum and job posts.
So I took the WordPress hosting and set up the site and everyone involved in migrating the content including my brother after his office hours.
This was another very tough time for me, there was no money coming, and at the same time, I had to give salary hike also. That time Bhawana helped me again financially and mentally. I think took 1 lakh from her to manage things.
During this time I got one client but the volume of work was very less, that was not at all enough for running a company.
Lesson-3: Companies want to work with startups, because they want to save money by paying you less.
One day, I close the laptop, went to the terrace, and thought about what exactly I am doing. Decided to focus on a few important things, not on all the things. Like I cannot do project work, classroom training, corporate training, website work all these. I have to focus on one or two things with the aim that, it might be profitable.
After discussing with Sumit and then with Bhawana, I decided to stop the live training and will spend time creating a course. It took me around 6 months to create the complete SharePoint training course. There are lots of video platforms are available, you have to give something different to compete with them. I was very confident about the SharePoint developer training course that I have created after spending 6 months.
Very less Sale but somehow I was able to manage one or two course sales in the first month itself. And it gave me hope that this training course idea will work for me. It is still running, but it was not enough to run a company.
Lesson-4: Just focus on a few things (probably just in one thing) when you are starting, if you will try to do everything alone, there is a chance it might not work as you expect.
Meanwhile, our Business Partnership Broke
This the worst thing that happened! Between me and Bhawana, things did not work well, we had discussions, arguments, disagreements, and slowly things went beyond a limit.
When you will start a business and when you are not getting success things will start falling.
May be due to the failures, handling lots of things alone, etc. etc., I could not able to give that respect to Bhawana as a business partner. At the same time, I was also expecting, she will support me. But somehow, it did not work well.
So we part ways!
Now, she started her own, running and growing a few blogs her alone:
And I am sure, she will be very much successful very soon.
I miss those things, because I was dam sure, we could have taken the business to a different level by this time if we would have been work together.
And I am really thankful to her, for her help mentally, financially, every time I was needed the most… She has done a lot…
Lesson-5: Do not leave someone when someone trusted you completely. Time will change everything… As a team, you can grow more, than individually. Always find one reason to stay together not to leave.
Again All Alone
Doing alone is really difficult. I am trying my best to take things forward.
Nowadays, I am focusing on very little things, few clients are there, a few websites are there and then the training course and a few other things.
Business is profitable now from last few months, I am able to pay salaries on time (Usually pay on the last working day).
Sumit is the mentor for me and lot of time we are having calls, and I am trying to learn things from him.
Now, the Office looks like below:
Lesson-6: For me, there is nothing called failure, everything is just experience. Success takes time.
I don’t know if I feel myself as an entrepreneur or not, but happy that I am not doing job, not working for anyone, work for myself and whatever I like to do. Few people are working with me and we as a team trying to grow.
Respect your employees
A lot of people gave me various suggestions, how I should choose people. Few said do not hire freshers, hire only experienced professionals, do not hire girls employees, etc etc.
A few people also said, if they are not working, give them notice period or fire them and hire new people.
I disagree with all these things…
If you took someone, spend some time with them, they will be fruitful for you. They will work, it takes some time and this may also take a little more time sometimes.
I always look for attitude and If that is missing, then I will gracefully tell them to look for other things.
As a startup, you also need your limitations, like you will not have a proper office, you might not pay as per the market standard. A lot of things are there.
I never said anyone to go, always ask them about their thoughts and discuss with them the problems and try to fix them. Do not want people to leave the organization or leave me.
Lesson-7: You will get a few people who will trust you, who will be there with you in the journey. Do not betray them.
Why I said NO to an investor
Once someone from Kormangala, Bangalore called me and asked me, we have an established startup and we have products in SharePoint, can we have met once? Our founder wants to meet you, can we meet once?
I saw his interview in YourStory.com and read about his investments, I guess by that time he already invested in 15+ startups.
We then decided to meet on a Friday weekend at his office.
I went to his office address, it was a superb office, a startup where you will see lots of facilities rather just the Office tables, chairs and a cafeteria. Overall it was an impressive Office. We just talked for a few minutes and then he said, let’s go and meet our founder.
He took me a near by PUB, just 250/300 meters from their Office. He was there with a few other colleagues of them.
I was thinking, what we were suppose to discuss something important and that why I am here and we are meeting in a PUB?
He: He came, say hello, how are you? Have a drink.
Me: I am good, thanks How are you? I am sorry, I do not drink.
He: Oh really??? Then we could have meet some other place, I thought you might be drinking.
Me: It’s OK, I am fine with it, I will just take a soft drinks.
He: I came to know you want to start your own business?
Me: Yes, I want to do something in SharePoint.
Then he said others to execuse us and he talked with me personally.
He: I am giving you two offers. Leave TCS, join us with the same salary. He did not even ask me my salary.
The other option is you answer me 3 questions and I will invest in your startup.
Q-1: What problem you are solving in SharePoint
Q-2: For whom you are making the product
Q-3: How you going to make this product?
We have money in our bank account, we can invest.
Me: Oh that’s so nice of you and that’s really great. I am sure I can not join you, because I do not want to do job.
He: No worries, take your time, think about it and I will the other guy to share my number with you. You can call in my personal number.
Excuse me, I will just get another drinks.
One thing was running in my mind, no, it is not that I should say yes to the fundings. To be very honest, I did not know much about fundings at that time.
I was thinking how come he is so smart, talks so decently, you will become a fan of the entrepreneurship style, etc, etc. He maintained so well, was talking with his employees like very close school friends.
It was not the money he was having, that’s not making him smart. It was his quick thoughts, positive mindset, positive thinking all those things. I got impressed, never saw any investor closely and talk nicely.
He was keep asking me to take something, etc, etc. I was just saying its OK and just trying to observe how he is living the life.
I did not know, what he was drinking, Sorry I do not drink, so no idea. But definitly, some professional drinks not hard core drinks.
After sometime I left, he asked me to write a review about his product which I did after a few days.
While coming, I was not thinking about his offers or funding and all these things. I was just thinking about what he must have been done for starting up his startups, how he is maintaining his life now, how he doing now only what he likes to do, etc, etc.
I was very clear in my mind; I do not want to work for anyone, want to do what I like to do and what my mind is saying. I did not know much on the funding side, but I was sure, if someone gives me money, then he will surely tell me what to do, I can not do what I want to do. So there was no second thought at all.
I just felt good, that someone is thinking, I can put money and this guy can make profitable and that gave me a lot of confidence.
So, I never thought about funding, want to bootstrapping my onw startup.
How I became a Microsoft MVP
Lot of people asks me how to become a Microsoft MVP? What certification I need to do?
Let me tell you this is not a certification and this is an award that Microsoft gives to exceptional contributors to the community. I usually write a lot of tutorials, and articles in SharePoint.
First time I received the award from Microsoft in the year 2014 and till now, every year they are renewing it.
This means this is not one-time stuff, every year if you will keep on contributing then Microsoft will renew it.
Overall this is a very prestigious award to have. In the SharePoint category, you will find single-digit MVPs all over India.
If you have the passion to write articles, reply in forums, give free webinars, YouTube videos, etc. and Microsoft team will follow you. One day you will receive the award.
7 years already…. and wish it will continue…
I do not feel, I have done anything much, but whatever I have achieved in a few years. If I can do it, anyone can do it.
Passion, dedication, discipline matters a lot. Try hard, give all your effort, if not today, tomorrow, day after tomorrow, or even after a few years, success will come. And that feeling will be the best.
Lesson-8: Always set target or goal for yourself. It helps a lot.
Beyond this, there are a lot of things that I experienced and difficult for me to write in words. No failure, it is just experience.