How I dropped out of college & still sat for placements

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How I dropped out of college & still sat for placements

This is for all the dreamers out there: Dreams do come true.

There will be times when nothing seems to be going right. There will be times when everything you dreamed of comes crashing down. There will be times when ever your closest friends turn their backs on you. There will be times when no one trusts your decisions. But even then, trust yourself. You are bigger than who you think you are.

My journey started when I was in Class VII. We had a computer club in school, and my teacher, Ms. Seema Sinha, showed everyone some short movies created by Pixar. When it ended, she told the entire class:

“We would be creating something like this by the end of the year”

I was captivated, and my dream to reach that level of perfection started.

Soon I started getting myself involved in all kinds of graphics and video works my school could offer me. From designing certificates for sports meets, to designing flyers and posters for competitions, to creating introductory movies for conferences, I was pushing myself to reach that level of perfection I dreamed of.

Working on an introductory movie for ‘Lead On’ when I was in school

Learning green screen and it’s usage with Sushant Ghai

On the last day of Class XII Board exams, my father asked me which college I wanted to go to. I told him that I wanted to start making movies and didn’t want to go to college. However, things didn’t go as I planned and I ended up at NIFT, Bangalore.

Life at NIFT took me by surprise. In a class of 35, only 5 were boys. A complete reversal of the regular engineering scene. It was all fun till my assignments started. I had opted to go for Fashion Communication, a stream which according to the prospectus would teach me Graphic Design, Photography, Print Design and a lot more. But I was stuck making purses out of macrame, cubes out of thermocol, sketching 100s of drawings in unreasonable deadlines, making paintings, building life size models which would take days to make. That was a huge setback to what I thought I would be doing, Pixar was a dream which was being crumpled by every second. I hoped the coming year would be better than the first.

Yes, I painted when I was in college

It wasn’t. Graphic Design meant sketching. Sleeplessly working for 5 days on a logo design got me 4/20, where most of the my classmates aced it with atleast a 14/20. Turned out I didn’t take approvals, so none of my work mattered. Not only was the college not teaching me anything new, it was demotivating me every passing second. I went to my faculty and told them, “I know most of the things you are teaching me, I have been doing this since Class VIII, can you please teach me something new?” to which the answer was that

“We can’t change the curriculum for a single student”

That’s when I understood, that NIFT was definitely not for me. My friends and faculty told me not to drop out, but against the odds, I decided to drop out.

The first two months after dropping out was horrible. I had no plan set in place.

I started hunting for work, which paid me in “exposure”, “recognition” and “better projects in the future”

My friends would keep telling me to join back college, but I was certain, anything but college. I would make flyers, get them printed, go to newspaper delivery guys early in the morning to get those distributed. I went to parties as a photographer. Travelled to different cities to work as a cinematographer. I got approached to make visual effects for movies. But nothing seemed to work in my favour. Soon, I asked my dad to stop sending me money. And that’s when I hit rock bottom. I had no cash left, I had no work. For weeks I survived on nothing but a packet of chips.

Briefly after I dropped out, working on a music video for a friend.

My work as the cinematographer for a short movie, for Save Temples International Film Festival which made it to top 40 as decided by the jury of the film festival

Being broke helps you think more clearly. Helps you prioritise. I got up once more, made a list of companies looking out for graphic designers and went to all of them one after the other. That worked, and I soon landed my first job. At Rs. 15,000 a month, I could work from home as a graphic designer. I did some good work, put it up online, and soon got called to work for Mindtree, a fortune 500 company. I was damn excited, but bad luck still followed me. My previous company didn’t pay me. And the new company wouldn’t pay until the end of the month. My new office was located at one end of the city, and I would travel 50km everyday back and forth. Soon, I moved on from that company and landed myself at TaxiForSure. Around the same time I met Ronak, my co-founder. He was an ambitious fellow who had a startup to his name when he was in college, and was working as a Sales Executive in Bangalore. Our wavelengths matched and we both started freelancing together, getting more clients under our belt and co-founded, Red Baton Creative Marketing Solutions Pvt Ltd.

Very soon had big names like BigBasket and NH7 weekender on our list of clients. We both left our jobs and took this on full-time. Troubles came and went, there were times we had no money to pay the rent and were locked inside our office. There were times when we relied on client meetings for free meals. But a year down the line, and having grown from a team of 2 people, two wooden planks, and four steel chairs, we are now a 12 member team working out of a corporate address working towards making it big.

Our first office, 2 wooden planks and 4 steel chairs

Our second office, briefly before Ronak and I quit our jobs

Third office, building a team with the best people

This march when the financial year ended, we had clocked $100K in revenue in just an year of operation, and just in time we got our name on the list of companies sitting for placements in NIFT Bangalore.

At one of our shoots earlier this year for

And, that’s how I went from dropping out of college and still was able to sit for placements. Just a minor difference, I get to sit on the other side of the table hiring my batchmates.

To all those dreamers out there, just believe in yourself. Things might seem like they are not going right, but trust yourself, your dreams are going to come true.

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