Three Years On: The Biggest Mistakes We've Made

Founder Varun Kapoor reminisces about a fateful trip to Japan that led to the birth of OODI Design three years ago.

Three Years On: The Biggest Mistakes We've Made

In 2013, I was on a 7-month journey across South East Asia. That trip was one part of a larger intention to circumnavigate the Earth without stepping onto an aeroplane.

In June of 2013, I found myself in Hokkaido, Japan. In the wake of the Fukushima accident of 2011, the Japanese Government had begun subsidizing renewable energy, which in turn created a booming solar industry. While in Hokkaido, and given my engineering background, I was fortunate to land my first unofficial "contract" helping design solar fields. The entire experience was fantastic, and instilled me with a whole-hearted confidence to start a company. I returned to India and founded OODI.

Armed with this one contract even before we had officially started, I thought I was set to follow in the clichéd footsteps of Steve Jobs and the like. The truth turned out to be as far as Hokkaido! We made a few serious mistakes, and got some things right, in getting to where we are now.

Here are some of the best and worst things that happened along the way. Most of the stories/lessons are fairly well known and documented, but here's my take on it and my personal learning on an experiential level.

Good: Getting To Travel

While doing a project for a Saudi client, I was able to travel to the KSA and Lebanon. I doubt I would have got a chance to visit such incredible and fascinating places if it weren't for starting up this business. As OODI grows, I’m hoping more such opportunities come my way.

Bad: Being Threatened With Legal Action

Nothing scared me more, and took up more mental energy than being threatened with legal action when a project went awry. Nothing since then has scared me more or made me question the business or my abilities. I am, in many ways, grateful for this experience because it raised the bar so high so early on. Funnily enough, difficult as that period way, it made me feel I could deal with anything else that comes my way, with ease.

Good: Making Friends With Employees

One of the greatest advantages of working at a start-up is that you get a chance to build close relationships to the people you work with. What better way to spend 40 hours a week than with close friends all working together towards a common goal? In fact, one of the achievements I'm most proud of is the camaraderie that we've developed in the office, which counts for a lot in my book.

Bad: Working With Friends

There is a flip side of working with those close to you. For instance, it becomes harder to tell people off for their errors. Moreover, working with and entering into a business relationship with friends can really take a toll on that friendship. I suppose it's fairly common knowledge, but I've now experienced it firsthand. Several times.

Good: OODI Design Is A Shared Interest On Tinder!

The title says it all. Maybe there’s a lot of ego involved here, but what could be better?

Bad: The Stress!

If you think running your own company means you can take off when you want, you're wrong. It means you've got to work harder than everyone and pick up the pieces every time someone else is missing. It means doing your job, and making sure everyone else does theirs. It means praying you get paid on time and ensuring you pay other people on time. It also takes a toll on your personal life because you’re always stretched for time. It's just a hell of a lot of stress!

It’s been a bumpy road at times, but we’ve had the highs to match the lows. All-in-all, we're excited about the future and hope that next year, we're even better than we are right now. We know we can be. We've got to be.

Read more about the travels here:

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