‘I Failed Engineering, Nothing Bad Happened’: Co-Founder Of A Million-Dollar Company

Posted by Nitya Sriram in Entrepreneurship, Inspiration, Video
December 17, 2016


In India, over 1.5 million engineers graduate into the job market every year. And each year, the pressure is high on lakhs of these aspiring candidates to crack the IITs. Children – sometimes by will, other times by force – go to special coaching lessons to crack these exams from when they are as young as 14 years old.

Many of us have been told, time and again, “Beta engineering ya MBBS kar lo, naam aur paise kamao, aur uske baad jo mann lage kar lena (Do engineering or MBBS now, make a name for yourself and earn good money, and then you can do whatever you want to).”  In a country where competition for jobs is cut-throat, making engineers, doctors, CAs or MBA graduates out of children is seen as a sure-shot and easy ticket to job security and enjoying financial comfort throughout one’s life.

But entrepreneur Varun Agarwal’s hard-hitting story reveals everything that is wrong with this status quo. Today, Agarwal is the co-founder of a million-dollar company, Alma Mater, that sells customised merchandise, and author of “How I Braved Anu Aunty and Co-Founded A Million Dollar Company”. But his life wasn’t always this rosy.

Like lakhs of other students in India, Agarwal, during his education, went through a period of emotional upheaval, because he wasn’t allowed to do what he really wanted. Put through four long years of engineering, he highlights what is commonplace but never spoken of among children forced into professions they don’t have an interest in – the emotional toll it takes upon them, and the extent of depression and anxiety it induces, something which has even driven many students to suicide in India.

As someone who was lucky enough to learn from his failure during engineering, Agarwal, through his story, inspires us to fight the status quo, and do what we believe in and truly enjoy. “Don’t think,” he says, referring to not thinking about what the society forces down our throats. Instead, he says it is ourselves and our happiness that we eventually have to work towards, because ultimately, doing what we want to do is what will truly make us successful.


This post is a part of a tech and entrepreneurship series by Youth Ki Awaaz, in collaboration with INK. This series aims to highlight unheard stories of individuals who had the courage to follow their dreams, and their journeys of success and failure. Watch more videos from INK here, and if you want to share the story of an inspiring entrepreneur, submit here.

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