2011: Year of dreams

It looks like yesterday when I was woken up in the middle of the night by a nightmare!

Jobless, directionless and confused. Having given up a good job and nothing working out in life, I cursed myself left, right and center.

I quickly realized that it was just a nightmare. I still had my job. I still had a salary coming in every month. And the appraisals and a possible good hike just around the corner.

I sat at my desk at 2.30am in the night and really wondered if I should resign from my job without any idea about what next to do in life.  Should I hang on for a while? Should I take it easy? Should I wait until I figure things out?

I couldn’t come to a conclusion. I slept.

Come morning, come light.. I thought, “heck, let me just do it”. Also, my wife was very supportive about it. That really helped!

I resigned from my job. The day was January 4th.

And then, began the story!

January:

  • resigned from job
  • ecstatic
  • confusion
  • more confusion
  • sleepless nights, nightmares

February

  • confusion++
  • www.etltraining.com – backup option if all else fails
  • Tappers – short for travellers and photographers. Name comes to mind while driving. Note it down in diary.
  • Blog about renting out equipment

March

  • Mar 11 – last day at work. Scared, emotional and nostalgic
  • First rental execution
  • Confusions continue

April

  • Shit Scared of having nothing to do in life. Decide to setup a separate rental site and call it Tappers.
  • Tappers.com site is taken by someone else. Tappers.in becomes unavailable too, someone has registered it just a few days ago.
  • I decide to go with Tapprs.com :). A separate rental site is rolled out using WordPress.
  • Then, I travel for 10 days to in-laws place.
  • Rental requests slowly increase. Nothing great, however.

May

  • A trip to Sikkim, Sundarbans & Neora valley. Good trip, but spend most of the time thinking about what next to do in life.
  • etltraining.com has reasonable response and I get quite a few training requests. However, I seem to lazy to even reply to the emails.
  • Drifting and floating aimlessly in life
  • Wife encourages me often and urges me not to give up yet

June

  • Fear of life catches up and I try to improve Tapprs.com as a final bid to at least do something in life
  • Requests for rental slowly increases
  • I start buying items for renting, a far cry from renting owned items only

July

  • A good opportunity with an analytics startup. However, they want me as a full time employee. I am interested only in freelancing. Give it up.
  • Revenue has improved over last month for Tapprs
  • Confusions continue
  • Sister questions me if I was fired from my job
  • Someone makes fun of Tapprs.com ridiculing that I rent out equipment sitting at home. Deeply hurt.
  • Salary days are the most painful. No job, no inflow. Rental income is far too low. Infact, wasn’t even as much as the amount spent on the budget lens last month.

August

  • Another tech opportunity given up. Would have gobbled it up under usual circumstances. I don’t quite understand how I was able to say no to those, but I did.
  • I tell wifey that am planning to close Tapprs.com. She says she will run it if I do. Ashamed, I continue running it.
  • Really wondering if I should close it.
  • But then, have nothing else to do in life. Keep it going, I tell myself.

September

  • Things change a bit. Revenues have increased. Many people now know that I run Tapprs.com. And that I have nothing else to do in life.
  • A few more items added.
  • Still, I think Tapprs is not my main idea. I need to figure out something. Soon!

October

  • Start looking at the US lens rental market
  • Notice Lensrentals.com grew from a 50k USD company into a 6million $ venture in 5 years flat
  • Wait, there are more. There’s borrowlenses.com, lensprotogo.com, rentglass.com, etc
  • Maybe this can be figured out
  • Inspired by Lensrentals.com and borrowlenses.com that grew phenomenally in 4-5 years flat.
  • Decide to make Tapprs.com a purely photography equipment rental venture. Remove travel items.

November

  • Start pestering the CEO of a large US rental company. No response.
  • Tried again. No response.
  • Again. Wohoo… he is kind enough to share with me a few lessons and data.
  • Confident. I mean, fearful, yet confident.
  • Tapprs goes through many changes.
  • Friends are very supportive in helping with stuff.

December

  • Heck, this is my life. I want to push things faster. What am I waiting for?
  • First lens damage. A Rs 63,000 Nikon 300 f/4 is broken into 2 pieces. Customer very honest. A blessing in disguise that helps identify a lot of loopholes.
  • Decide to make Tapprs a Private Ltd company.
  • Tapprs Ventures India Pvt Ltd
  • Add inventory like a madman
  • Revenue has improved… quite a bit!
  • Tapprs goes to Chennai via courier delivery! Yuppie!!!
  • Then… this, I have to keep under wraps for a few months now.

Ideas without execution are worthless. Pickup something today. Dabble. And maybe it will turn into a full fledged venture.

That is the Tapprs story! (Well, the best is yet to start!)

It was not easy. Infact, at times, it was painful. However, things seem to have corrected themselves. One at a time, things seem to have fallen into place. The reason, I guess, is that I did something.

Something! As stupid as renting items from my blog.

Have a dream? My suggestion (not advice) to you is to start today! Pick something. Do something. Then iterate. Correct one thing at a time. Change one small thing at a time. Who knows, it could snowball into something interesting.

My 2011 was like a bollywood rollercoaster. Confusion, pain, joy, doubts, what not! However, it ended on a high note. All’s well that ends well. Dear 2011, I will remember you for the rest of my life!

Wish you all a fantastic 2012!

15 thoughts on “2011: Year of dreams

  1. Good for you! I enjoyed reading about your year starting up. And I had a lot of flashbacks while doing so. It’s a very scary thing and I almost closed twice in the first two years. Glad I didn’t, and glad to hear you’re hanging in there.

    Best regards,

    Roger Cicala
    Lensrentals.com

  2. Prem,

    Sailing on the same boat, I know your feelings and you have put it in a nice way which will not scare others who are planning to quit and do something of their own.

    Wish you all the best and success in 2012.

    Cheers
    Kesava

  3. What a year buddy? Wish you all the very best. Doing the right things by iterating and testing how the market responds. Time for another ride sometime soon 😉

  4. @Chethan, Sujit: Thanks guys!
    @kesava: 🙂 Looking forward to some awesome stuff from CWN in 2012. Have a great 2012!
    @sridhar: Thank you. Have a super 2012. Yup, we should go on a ride sometime soon :).

  5. @Roger: Am thrilled to bits to see your comment here!

    I owe it a lot to Lensrentals.com for the inspiration I got just by studying how you guys handle the business. You’ve set such high benchmarks for the lens rental industry!!

    I always try to remember your statement, “When everything goes well, every company is great. We are great when it doesn’t go well”. I kept telling myself that statement when a customer of mine broke a Nikkor 300mm f4 and really helped handle the situation much better.

    Thank you for commenting here. It sure was a very pleasant surprise!

  6. As always a beautiful flowing narration with a very good content!
    Loved reading through your blog and happy to see your venture slowly taking the wings.
    Entrepreneurship is a mix of confusion, dedication and gumption and you are showing all the classical signs that leads one to an interesting life.
    All the very best for your endeavors and I am sure you will see high ground pretty soon 🙂

  7. Prem,

    Leaving the comfort of a monthly salary is a hard thing as we are enslaved by it. Am absolutely sure you did the right thing here.

    Looking forward to see Tapprs blossoming in 2012.

    Best Wishes,
    Vijay

  8. Hey Prem!!!

    Thats really inspiring.
    Always found it interesting that you chasing your dream. Right from the day you told me about your plans and time you resigned.
    Enjoyed reading it. All the best to tapprs!!

  9. @Manasij: Thank you very much. Wish you a very happy 2012!

    @Ram: Thank you Ram! You’ve always been very supportive and thank you for that.

    @Vijay: Thanks Vijay! Wish you a happy 2012 too!

    @Dushyant: Hey, thank you very much.

  10. Hi Prem,

    The post and the rise of Tapprs is very inspiring. Happy to know that it is working out well for you.

    Not many people have the ability to get out of the comfort zone, dedicate themselves to pursue a passion of theirs, and make it work with their determination. You are one such.

    Happy 2012.

    Cheers.

  11. Hi Prem,

    My aggregator (pageflakes) was done for some time and just came back up – first thing I did was to read your post. Wonderful. Great that you are hanging in there. Best of luck and wish you a prosperous and fun filled 2012.

    – Prasanth

  12. Prem, I’ve been reading your blog for a while now (since the days you wrote about investments only). It takes a lot of guts and courage to do something like what u have done. I sincerely hope you all the best. Persistence will definitely test you and is usually a pre-requisite for success. Having rented out many a times (in US) I definitely feel this concept will work, it might just take a while for it to catch up in India. timely delivery and postal/courier infrastructure is vastly different in the two countries and probably the biggest bottleneck. Have u also considered online/classroom training/ guest photogs workshops as an offering along with rentals ?

    All the best. Cheers – abu

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