How did you end up as a CEO? What was your route to this position?
Well, I never imagined myself in this ‘CEO’ position, but it was something that was destined to happen. I began my entrepreneurial journey when I was 18 years old, as an engineering student looking to solve a problem. Artistic-Lane.com, my first startup, was incubated from a College Cubicle in 2018, and it was a great start for my career.
To be honest, I began as a novice who had no idea what the role of CEO entailed, made many mistakes, and won awards such as the Young Entrepreneur 2020 Award by IAF India and my startup, Artistic Lane, was included in the India 500 Startups 2020. By the end of 2018, I had expanded my team, reached new heights, and created an online platform for artists to sell their work. But I failed, and my cash flow was harmed as a result of COVID, minimum sales I admit that everything I earned was lost in a matter of two years. Fast forward to April 2021, and we are no longer a startup. Sounds demotivating, right? I was in a terrible mental state. My mother, who played an important role during that period of my life, was my guiding angel in my story and helped me return. “It’s not the end,” she said. “You are a CEO, and you always will be. Never give up, and fight the phase!”
Her words made me think and pivot from the Arts & Crafts industry to the Ed-Tech industry with Industry Inspire Talks in August 2020. Believe me, we were up and running in a matter of months, did the proper research on the problems our idea was about to solve, put those successful plans out there, and started working on the next unicorn idea, we built this Industry Ready platform that blew off as soon as it was deployed, as the platform was unique, helped millions of students, and had never been created in this century!
This concept of Industry Inspire Talks began as a YouTube channel with only episodes and events hosted by me, but after realising the true potential of this platform in the ed-tech market, we decided to launch it as a business at the end of 2020. The role of CEO was never easy; I was the one who came up with the idea and had to do everything on my own, with no help.
I had a lot of difficulties, but that didn’t stop me because I always remembered my previous failure, which gave me the strength to not fail this time. From the year 2020, when it all began in a beautiful 1 BHK apt in Mumbai (Previous HQ) alongside my CTO & my college senior i.e Danish Shaikh, to a team of 15 skilled individuals who believed in us, remotely working towards building this next-gen industry platform, I believe we have come a long way as a startup.
Our headquarters are now in Manchester, United Kingdom, which is a source of pride and joy for everyone who worked so hard on this. We now have everything we need in terms of revenue, reputation, and returning users, but it was all possible because of one decision I made to address issues such as the skill gap crisis, career planning, unemployment, and industry readiness, all of which were growing rapidly through our one-stop solution for students and an OTT platform for corporates and entrepreneurs. As a CEO, I’m now responsible for managing startup operations.
This may include delegating and directing agendas, driving profitability, managing the company’s organizational structure, creating strategies to increase brand value, and communicating with the board. The path to the CEO title was one of those life-changing experiences that I will never forget. I did what was best for my community by continuing to serve as the CEO/Founder of Industry Inspire Talks; this role is not for everyone; it is only for those who think differently, a leader like me who leads by example.
Why are you the right person to be the CEO of your company?
This next-generation platform would not exist today if I had chosen Education over Entrepreneurship back then. Everyone thinks about getting their dream tech job, focusing on academics or being left behind, building their CV to get shortlisted and being targeted towards building a successful career for themselves as an engineering student. In my case, things were different because I was chasing my passion rather than people’s expectations.
When I presented this idea to our CTO in 2020, it was just a sketch on a piece of paper, with no website and no business at all. I.I.T Organization was established solely because I faced similar problems as other students around the world. As a student, it was difficult for me to adapt to industry standards because of what was taught in schools/colleges; poor education in India stifled the innovation process; herd culture restricted my thought process, and corporate life was only a few years away. Rather than working under someone, I decided to use my time working towards bringing this idea to reality in the forthcoming years.
During my first few years as CEO, started from my own home (Previous HQ), I was in charge of giving directions, developing plans with the product teams for launching new services on the platform, recruiting talent to be army in this mission, collaborating with industry leaders, managing social media pages, and getting involved in things like graphic design and video editing. On the other hand, I had to live the student life, which included attending classes, completing coursework, and taking exams like any other student; honestly, I enjoyed multitasking daily. During running the startup with my team, I learnt everything from scratch, acquired all of the skills required to be a CEO in the first place, and learned the ins and outs of my business/industry.
The platform resembles my thought process or you can call it my brainchild, which aims to solve some of the modern-age problems faced by students all over the world, and it operates on the 5IE model that I developed. This brand belongs to me because it was one of my concepts, theories, and efforts to bring this industry-ready platform, and I’m the creator of this unique platform that connects industry with academia, making people future-ready! As a Founder/Creator, I’ve dedicated years of my life to seeing this startup succeed in the past, so I believe I’m the right person to lead Industry Inspire Talks Organization.
What gets you up in the morning?
My desire to help others through my startups drives me to get out of bed every day. When I help others by creating platforms that can ensure their future/career security, I feel a sense of accomplishment, and it’s a very rewarding experience. Also, many people helped me as I grew up to ensure my safety and success, so it’s important to me that I do the same for others.
The ability to extend this kindness to others inspired me to pursue a career in entrepreneurship by leveraging technology to fuel innovation, which would later result in a revolution in the education sector. Many students have directly stated in the past few months that the platform has been helpful in their careers, meeting all of their industry needs.
This objective to increase youth employability, end the skill gap globally and prepare them for their future careers is something I live and breathe every day. This field allows me to combine my skill set with what is important to me as a person. The opportunity to help millions of students like my own motivates me to do my duties & build internet platforms for the student community to rely on for all their industry-specific needs.
Who helped you get to where you are today?
There are three types of people who have helped me along my journey from Engineer to Serial Entrepreneur. First and foremost is my family, specifically my mumsy, who has always had my back since I was a child. She taught me the rules of life, painted a picture of the world outside when I was young, and sacrificed herself for my career, this character of hers always motivated me to give her a good life, to do something that makes her proud, to gain a reputation in society that gives her a sense of happiness and satisfaction.
Her solutions to my problems were not technically correct, but they did point me in the right direction for cracking and knocking down any problems that arose. She always supported my passion while ignoring her expectations of me; she left me like a free bird after 10th grade, giving me the freedom to pursue a career I am passionate about, which was beautiful to witness.
Whatever I am today, I would devote everything to my mother, my entire life to her, which is why she is first on this list. Second on the list are my Co-Founders, team members in Industry Inspire Talks, and other ventures who are my backbone and are working hard to achieve our startup goals for the fiscal years; without them, I am nothing!
The third category includes some of my closest friends; unfortunately, we all live on opposite sides of the world, but they were my early supporters who always encouraged me to dream big and follow through on my decisions. Some of them have seen my dark times, offered to emotionally support me, and been there when I needed them the most; I thank God for bringing us together. They all had a significant impact on my life and career. All of these categories played a vital role to get me where I’m today!
What is the best or worst business advice you have received and from whom?
“Do what you Love!”
Although it may seem like a nice notion, I received this advice from a Study Abroad YouTube creator, it’s hard to believe in reality. Just because you love doing something doesn’t mean that others will find it helpful or necessary. And if no one buys what you’re selling, then doing what you love won’t get you anywhere. “Invest In Yourself” – One of the best pieces of advice I ever received from my mumsy, This meant continuing my education and learning new things to stay ahead of the competition. Not only did this advice help me professionally, but it also helped me grow as a person. Learn. Share. Grow.
If you could go back in time to when you were a teenager, what life advice would you give yourself?
If this could happen, I would advise my younger self the following: – Believe in yourself, You are born to make a dent in this universe! – Patience and Persistence ultimately pay off. But they usually do so very slowly. – Don’t let anyone ever tell you your dreams are out of reach. Only YOU know your full potential, Just go get what you like, and manifest your dreams! – Life is called a “rat race,” but remember that it’s a marathon and not a sprint. – Celebrate your wins & learn from your losses – Karma is circular: What goes around comes around. Put out into the Universe the positive energy you seek in return.
What are the most important values you demonstrate as a leader?
In our lives, values serve as guiding principles. Leadership takes place in the context of core values. Leaders inspire and enable others to make a positive difference in their own lives while also contributing to the greater good. As the competencies of leadership are activated – learned, developed, and practised – within the set of core values, values inform the application of leadership qualities. Delegation, Integrity, Communication, Self-Awareness, Gratitude, Learning Agility, Influence, Empathy, Courage, and finally Respect are the most important values I demonstrated as a leader. These core values have enabled me to take command of my lifeboat and steer it in the direction of my dreams.
How can a leader fail?
Everyone fails, but leaders, such as myself, fail when they make mistakes that drag them down. According to my knowledge and experience, there are three major reasons for a leader’s failure. The first reason is that they may be lacking in self-leadership abilities. I was completely lost when I first started out. I was unsure of what I wanted to do with my life.
I was adrift, making bad decisions and looking for guidance. I called a friend in tears one particularly difficult day, venting about my uninspiring job and the shambles I was making of my life. Self-leadership entails taking responsibility for everything you do, every decision you make, every word you say, and the quality of every relationship you have.
It is about recognising your own and your team’s strengths and weaknesses and utilising them to propel yourself, your team, and the company forward. The second reason is that success can sometimes turn your confidence into arrogance, which can lead to failure. When leaders are promoted or hired, they frequently want to demonstrate their worth. And the pressure is real, because leaders must deliver results. Unfortunately, many people respond to this pressure by making rash decisions, failing to ask probing questions, and underestimating their impact on the organisation. They lose sight of the fact that they are there to help others.
These leaders believe they know everything and have stopped listening. They either ignore what others say or, worse, criticise them when they disagree. They believe they are superior to the people who create value — their employees. Leaders will gain respect, trust, and credibility simply by listening, asking questions, and giving credit to the team. The third reason is that they tend to ignore the details because they believe they know everything about the business. Leaders are supposed to work on the business, not in it, correct? While this is partially correct, executing strategy is critical to running a successful business. Things can fall apart if a leader loses interest in the details.
When I stopped asking detailed questions during one of our most important product development efforts, I learned the hard way. I found out one month before the launch that we had skipped critical steps in our process and that the product was not ready. We paused the launch and went back to finish the missing steps, which caused the product launch to be delayed by six months and cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue.
Paying attention to details demonstrates that you are concerned with doing things correctly. It will be the driving force behind strategic decisions and will keep initiatives on track. Keeping an eye on details reduces the likelihood of making mistakes that undermine your credibility. These are the three most important causes that I personally have observed in leaders, and making these errors will lead to your failure at the end of the company cycle.
What does the next five years hold for you?
Since 2018, my life has seen a significant transformation as I’ve gone from feeling lost to realising my passion for management and entrepreneurship. I’ve learned a lot over the past few years about managing and operating businesses both here and abroad. In a nutshell, I was a student who made a lot of mistakes and had a failed startup, but these events didn’t change my perspective. Instead, I made a comeback as an entrepreneur in 2020 with my project, Industry Inspire Talks, which was a huge success for me and my team.
We recently made the decision to unite all four businesses into one organisation, the Bhagya Group, which was created in London (Feb 2022) and I.I.T Organisation was relocated to Manchester as our new headquarters. From now until January 2023, we have big plans to push our Official I.I.T – The Industry Ready App for Google Playstore and Appstore users, reach 100K+ downloads on both platforms, introduce new services catering to students, corporates, and entrepreneurs, and hopefully achieve our goal of making youth all over the world future-ready until 2025.
Along with this, I need to start working on the remaining Bhagya Group projects, which include DevIncept, CommunityX, and Grad Venture. These projects are influential and were created to serve the student communities across all regions, addressing various problems that students face. In the coming years, I am excited to establish these existing startups and turn them into successful businesses. In time, I want to live my dream of becoming a successful entrepreneur by the age of 30, to make it to the Forbes 30U30 list someday, to focus on creating a long-lasting impact through my startup ideas, to make students’ lives easier, and to guarantee them a secure career/future in the next five years.
Finally, I want to establish a reputable name and position for myself in society, make it to the news headlines someday, be healthy & wealthy, and hopefully make my parents proud of who I’m becoming, as well as earn the respect in society that every individual seeks in life. In the next five years, I aim to achieve at least a few of my goals, as I have a long list of dreams. I believe in breaking it down into smaller pieces, achieving it step by step, and creating a story that serves as an example for the younger generations who are here to change the world.
Mentorship is a big business in the west, do you have any experience with it?
We at Industry Inspire Talks are aware of the real significance of mentoring and the function that a mentor plays in one’s life and career. I have personally coached tens of thousands of students toward student entrepreneurship through the Startup Mentorship Initiative of the I.I.T. Organization back in my native India. Another illustration is the one-stop platform that DevIncept has developed for students to learn coding online by enrolling in one of our in-demand data science courses, working actively on project development, receiving peer help or mentorship, finishing the course, and receiving certification.
Since mentors are the ones that support students with their questions and guide them through the course, their role in this process is crucial. Being a mentor is a valuable opportunity for growth and learning as well as a means to give back. The best way to learn is to teach others. Likewise, when they mentor and support young talent, mentors develop their skills as communicators and leaders. In addition to this, I have given podcasts about my entrepreneurial experiences and lessons learned during this wonderful journey and have been invited to speak as a guest speaker by a number of educational institutions, including DBATU and SIES GST.
I am aware of the challenges associated with being a student entrepreneur, but because I have been there myself, I am willing to support students who want to manage their startups while also pursuing their academic goals, or at the very least, point them in the right direction as they prepare to launch their businesses in highly competitive markets. I am happy to share all of my knowledge with students who share my aspiration to become successful entrepreneurs. These are just a few situations in which I have served as a mentor for students, and I still do so on a regular basis. I try to give back to the community in many ways, and mentoring is one way I do that. It also helps me play a supporting role in students’ lives and future professions.
If people want to reach out to your or your business, what is the best way for them to go about doing that?
If you want to connect with me, You can send me a connection request on LinkedIn (Omkar Shinde), or follow me on Instagram, my username is omkars_official, apart from this you can reach me on my personal email i.e [email protected] For Industry Inspire Talks, Visit our website here: https://industryinspiretalks.com/ to know more about our mission and vision, and get to witness one of the best industry-ready platforms on the internet. If you aim to reach out to our business for collaborations, Our email is [email protected] On the other hand, You can simply search Industry Inspire Talks on Google, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube & you’ll find us at the top of your search results. To know more about Bhagya Group & rest of our startup projects, you can visit here: https://znap.link/bhagyagroup to find out more in detail.