Our story: A view from the future
The year was 2040. It was a cold December evening, when some old friends met for the Silver Jubilee celebrations of Faraway Ventures, to celebrate the day when they had started operations with their first resort, Faraway Renz. There was no moon in the sky, and stars shown bright. Even in that dark, you could see the outline of the majestic Himalayan ranges. They sat around a campfire, singing old Hindi movie songs.
‘So what has been the secret of your success?’ one of them asked Rishi. Well over the official retirement age of 60, Rishi really didn’t look that old, except that he had lost a lot of hair, well, almost all of it.
“Hmmm....” mumbled Rishi after a long pause,“that’s very difficult to answer”. Rishi looked towards his younger partner, Dipankar, but found that no help was coming forth. Dipankar looked as if he was still in his thirties, while the truth was that his daughter Tia was almost that old. Dipankar was normally a talkative person, but on this occasion he was quiet.
“Let’s see how Rishi answers this one”, thought Dipankar.
Left with no option, Rishi finally spoke,“We think we might have a secret, but we sincerely think that we don’t have success. At least not the way you conceptualize it. We just do what we want to do, and that is what we have done all these years.”
“Ah the 3-idiots funda, chase excellence and success is bound to follow”, quipped another friend.
“Not really,” now Dipankar couldn’t stay aloof,“we decided that we wouldn’t care about the success-is-bound-to-follow part. And while both of us do chase excellence, we do it not because it is a rule, but because we like doing things the right way.”
“The right way?”
“It has been our belief in doing things the right way that guided us. When we were laying the foundations of this business, we decided that one central principle that we will always follow will be that we will run a fair and truthful business. We will not cheat our customers, our employees or our vendors, not the regulatory bodies, and of course, not each other. The deep and honest relations that we have developed with all the stakeholders, has taken us places,” explained Dipankar.
“So how did all this start? Tell us from the beginning.”
“Rishi is the story teller, so he will tell”, quipped Dipankar. Rishi had been an acclaimed writer for many years now. His first book ‘The Bhuj Story: After the Quake’ had been published way back in 2005. The books after that were still to come though.
“Hey, that’s my line,” said Nidhi Tewari from someplace far away, and rushed to join the group. Nidhi was a developmental activist who was entrepreneurial in her social ventures. Rishi on the other hand wanted to be socially minded in his entrepreneurial ventures. The two had met at Bhuj, while volunteering their efforts in disaster rehabilitation after the terrible Gujarat earthquake of 2001. That was the story that Nidhi was referring to.
“Yes, I am the story teller, but you are the publisher. So you have to first approve my story.” Said Rishi and continued. He started narrating how chance had brought Dipankar and him together while working as business consultants at IBM, how they had separated after moving on to different organizations, how both of them had come on the same boat after individually quitting the corporate world, how their search of what-do-we-really-want-to-do had brought them together and how in their explorations they had hit upon the idea of a partnership for running a resort in Uttarakhand hills.
Dipankar smiled at that. When he had started Readomania in 2014, he had had no idea that it could grow as big as it had. Of course, it had taken lot of hard work and immense support from his wife Sangeeta. By the time Faraway Ventures had happened Readomania was already getting established as a brand name: they had published 12 titles in the first year of operations. And the journey after that had shown that first year was even lesser than the proverbial tip of the iceberg.“I will approve the story,” he said,“but I can do that only after you give me the manuscript.”
Nidhi couldn’t help but give a big smile. It brought her memories of the initial days when Faraway Ventures had been set up. All three of them Rishi, Dipankar and herself, had common values, and that is what made them a good team. But they also had complimentary skills and often differing interests too, which lead to frequent disagreements and long debates, and that is what made them a great team! Broadly while Rishi looked at internal operations, Dipankar was customer focussed, and Nidhi was the anchor for social and environmental spirit. But all of them were responsible for everything and disagreements were not infrequent. Especially, Dipankar and Rishi were used to verbal sparring, and it was hard to say, who enjoyed it more.
“I have already shown you samples. You need to pay me an advance to get the full story”, Rishi continued, the game. He was suddenly reminded of an old incident when he and a few friends were trekking in the nearby forests. Chinmay, his 6 year old son was running ahead as usual. There was some discussion on who had maximum stamina.“I don’t think I can compete with you,” said one of them,“even the sample from your factory is unbeatable.”
“Well then let it go, we don’t need you to tell the story”, replied Dipankar.
“No, but we want to listen to it,” said the friend who had asked for it earlier.
“Then you can go to our website and read the section on ‘About us’,” answered Dipankar. And all of them burst into laughter.
“Look, here comes the moon,” exclaimed Nidhi. Everybody except Dipankar looked to the eastern hills from where the moon was just rising. Dipankar looked toward the dining area, from where Sangeeta was walking towards the group.“My moon is there,” he smiled.
Rishi Mohan Sanwal, was born and brought up in Uttarakhand. After his engineering from IIT Bombay and MBA from IIM Ahmedabad, he worked as a business consultant for 12 years, first at IBM and then at Accenture. Besides, hosting guests at Faraway Renz, he teaches Operations at IIMs. He occasionally dreams about writing his next book.
Dipankar Mukherjee is a self confessed workaholic. After his MBA from IIT Madras he went on to overwork at IBM and E&Y as a business consultant. He currently divides his time between Faraway Ventures, Readomania and his paternal business. A true Bengali, Dipankar loves literature, Rasogullas and Himalayas.
Nidhi Tewari is a leadership and democracy expert, she is the Managing Trustee of Democracy Connect, and in that capacity works with the elected representatives. After her graduation from Institute of Rural Management at Anand, she quit her campus job-offer and went on to work for disaster rehabilitation at Bhuj for many years.
Sangeeta Mukherjee, a media sales professional, is a Marketing grad & an MBA, and has worked with organizations like Times Group and India Today TV.
However, a Benarasi at heart, that too a Bengali, she is also an amateur painter and loves her canvas more than anything else. She is also a UN Volunteer, working with Ann Foundation on children's education.