More than talent, skills or resources, it is the willingness to keep pushing your limits which brings you face to face with success. This incredible story is about a 24-year-old who everyone thought was a good for nothing chap but the very same people today can’t stop obsessing over his success. His unconventional ideas have made him the CEO of a company which has been valued at Rs 11 crore despite a very short span of operation.
Meet charismatic Gaurav Rana who grew up in a tiny, nondescript village named Sonf in Haryana. The wealth of his father had exhausted by the time he was five years old and all that was left for him was daily struggle with poverty. His father had become an alcoholic and was suffering from mental trauma. Whatever little money came their way was from his grandfather who ran a grocery store. They managed to buy food but couldn’t afford LPG to cook it so Gaurav and his elder sister spent all day collecting wood and cow dung in and around the village. The kids would make cow dung cakes and pass them on to their mother who would then cook some food for them.
To divert his attention from the painful life Gaurav started painting. Well-off children came asking him to draw for them and would in-turn give him Rs 20. While he was in STD 8 he started going to a nearby salon and learnt the art of haircut and shaving. The owner let him handle a few customers everyday and give him some commission for his help. The situation at home was still as grim as ever and the only way out seemed to be in education. In STD 10 Gaurav scored 96.9% and took admission in a deemed university in Agra where his grades dropped consistently and he couldn’t even touch 60% by the time he passed out.
“I couldn’t appear for placement interviews because I scored abysmal 58%. I pleaded with my teachers and got a chance to appear in one interview.”
His low grades fetched him just one chance but he cracked it. He got a job with Eicher Motors for a monthly salary of Rs 15,000. But this good news was overshadowed by problems at home. His parents were burdened under a sum of Rs 2 lakh that they had borrowed from friends and relatives who wanted their money back.
“I had no money to go to Indore and join Eicher. There was no question of borrowing money as all our relatives had turned hostile. I was heartbroken to see how people change and decided to end our financial struggles somehow”, Gaurav recollects.
A friend’s mother helped him and he reached Eicher, Indore. He did night shifts there and worked as a dance teacher and event organizer in the day time. Gradually, he paid off all the credits his family has taken but had also realized that he couldn’t do job all his life. He was giving more and more time for organizing events which reflected poorly at his performance in his company. “People had tagged me useless, for them I was good for nothing”, he says.
However, the perception of people changed when he did an event with FTV and the news splashed all over the newspapers. To celebrate his success he went back to him home in Haryana where his mother worked as a local beautician. She had to attend a client that day and the person was coming in every few hours to remind her of the task. Gaurav saw a gap here and thought he could fill this up with technology.
He came back to Eicher and couldn’t stop thinking about his idea. At the company’s annual party he got to know that the VP’s wife has 25 years of experience in IT. Despite his friends warnings, he boldly approached the woman and pitched her the idea and asked if she would collaborate on this. To his utter surprise she agreed and became the initial investor for Calipso, a company that delivers beauty services wherever the customer is.
The idea was unique and has become a major hit in Indore. Calipso has tied up with OYO rooms and several beauty salons to reach out to their customers. The latest trend that Gaurav has introduced in the industry is setting up stalls at weddings. “Nobody even thought of doing this even when there was a clear need for it. Ladies now chat away while getting a pedicure at weddings while men get a touch-up down after sweating it out on the dance floor,” Gaurav says in his thick Hariyanvi accented Hindi.
On being asked about competing against other doorstep beauty servicing giants he says, “I don’t think there is any competition because no matter how much funded they are they can never take away my guts from me.”
Currently, Calipso is operating in Indore, Bhopal and Ujjain making its way to expand in metros next.
Today, Gaurav employs more than 25 people and Calipso is valued at over Rs 11 crore. At just 24, he has made his name in the start-up world and comes across as a charismatic young entrepreneur.
“My relatives who had stopped speaking with us are now cordial again. One should always remember that times keep changing and hardwork pays off, every single time”, he says.