Every week, we profile an interesting entrepreneur or a person who is up to something interesting in our DOERs section. This weeks DOER is Harsh Snehanshu, who earlier co founded a startup while studying at the Indian Institute of Technology (Delhi) and then went on to write a fictionalised account of the experience in his book: “Because Shit Happened: What Not to do in a Start-Up.” Through his book, he talks about conviction and having fun being an entrepreneur. After the startup, Harsh went on a long trip. He’s trucked in rural India, went to the villages of Kashmir, and heard so many stories of tribals, Tibetans in exile, Naxals and is now on a quest to become a better writer. He has already written four books!
Here’s more about him:
1. Give us a brief background of yours. How/What/When/Where.
I’m Harsh Snehanshu, the author of the recently released novel, “Because Shit Happened: What NOT to do in a start-up”, which happens to be my fourth book. I’m an IIT Delhi graduate and a former internet entrepreneur. My previous three books have been a humorous trilogy, tracing the comic life of a nerd.
2. What has been your family reaction to your books/entrepreneurship career?
My family has been quite supportive in all my endeavours. I hail from Patna, and though parents out there are not very progressive, I am fortunate that my parents are extremely foresighted, understanding and supportive when it comes to my unconventional dreams. Yes, it required me to throw some light on what I wanted to do and why I wanted to do that, but once they could see my passion, they were more or less convinced.
3. You have traveled a lot over the last few months. Share a few interesting anecdotes?
Yes, when I came out of entrepreneurship, after spending almost two years working 16 hours a day, I wanted to take a vacation. I started travelling and realized that it’s something I really like. I worked on a book concept around my travels, about how a young man who takes the path of road, finds out the true India. And one of the India’s prominent travel websites, IXIGO.com sponsored my trip.
I had plenty of interesting experiences – such as that of meeting aghori babas in Varanasi who wanted to induct me into their practice to that of hitchhiking on a truck in Orissa, where the first thing the truck wala said to me was “It’s not safe taking lifts from truck. Though we are nice people, not everyone is nice,” which amused me a lot. I lived with local people across India, went to the villages of Kashmir, interacted with people around, met Kashmiri Pundits, even went to Ladakh on an Enfield, witnessed India’s raw beauty and heard so many stories of tribals, Tibetans in exile, Naxals and more.
4. Some of the major learnings over the last few years? Of not taking up campus placements/doing random stuff?
I feel that campus placements are quite hyped. It makes you feel that there’s no life beyond campus placements. When I didn’t take that up, I realized I had so much time, so many people to meet and network with, so many interests to explore and I started pursuing them – learnt swimming, travelled, started composing songs, reading avidly and writing more prolifically. Though with my earlier books, I’m earning one third of what my batchmates are earning from their regular jobs, it’s more than sustainable for me. The new book only adds to that. The good thing is that I am extremely happy with my life as I’m pursuing exactly what I want to do. I know that I really want to do writing forever, so I’m never short of ideas/work – I mean to say that I have around 16 novel plots in mind and 10 travel books concepts right now in my head, which could easily fill my next 20 years at least.
5. Future plans?
Right now, after travel, I realized that I need to learn a lot more to become a better writer, to be able to see the world from many different perspectives – such as socio-economic, anthropological, political, historical etc, rather than just a storyteller’s perspective which I currently possess. I had heard about the Young India Fellowship programme and its courses seemed to be perfectly suited for me in my pursuit to become a better writer. Fortunately, I have been selected for this year’s programme and the following one year from June 2013-14, it would be an academic journey for me. After that, I would write and travel again, unless life opens up different avenues.
6. How is life shaping post books? A mn $$ bet ? :)
Money, though important, is a secondary thing for me. It’s the satisfaction of knowing that my work is being read and liked by people across India that’s fuelling my journey. My readers have been a great source of motivation for me in all my pursuits. We are like one small family. My fourth book is a brutally honest and heartfelt book, and yes, I have high hopes from it.