by Suman Gupta
From industry stalwarts to genX, The ITCH Summit witnessed the celebration of passion, determination, and obsession to overcome failure and settle for nothing less but the ultimate dream
Mumbai, February 2018: What is the ‘Itch’ that drives one to work every day? What is the ‘Itch’ which keeps them glued even through their darkest hours? What is the ‘Itch’ that makes one do the unbelievable? The keynote speakers at the first ‘Itch Summit’, hosted by the Prahlad Kakar School of Branding and Entrepreneurship (PKSBE) shared invaluable insights into their success stories while highlighting their failures proudly!
Filmmaker, Chairman and Founder, PKSBE, Prahlad Kakar, stated, “We have designed the summit to narrate the failure stories of successful entrepreneurs and how they overcame failures to attain their calling. The take away for the audience from the summit – there are many kinds of successes and not all of them involves money, but all success when achieved on their own, requires passion, commitment, and very high ethical standard. The speakers, present at the summit, represent this ethos to the fullest and our school takes great pride in hosting the first Itch Summit.”
Pratish Nair, MD and Founder of PKSBE and Curator of the ITCH Summit said, “This year marks the first anniversary of the Prahlad Kakar School of Branding and Entrepreneurship. We wanted to create an event that would give us an opportunity to awaken the minds, analyze our contributions to life and derive more meaning out of it. We wanted to create a unique summit where both thinkers and doers share the space because both are equally important for the betterment of society. The summit was dedicated to all who has an itch to do things differently. The Itch Summit presented an array of interactive sessions with subject matter experts, wherein each speaker being different than the other to ensure exhaustive knowledge dissemination at the summit.”
The summit commenced with Pratish Nair, addressing and welcoming the enthusiastic entrepreneurs and the audience with a sneak peek into what lay ahead for the action-packed two days. What followed next was a fabulous array of eminent achievers, who shared their most difficult and the toughest moments which played a crucial role in achieving success!
Speaking at the summit, Director and Screenwriter, Shyam Benegal, narrated how the ‘itch’ to tell stories led him to pursue his dreams in the world of cinema. He fell in love with cinema at a tender age and that became his calling. “Express what is within you”, was his advice to the audience at the summit.
Lt. Gen. Patankar, a real-life hero with extraordinary contributions to the country has served Indian Army for four decades. When times got worse in Kashmir with civilians losing their lives in the mayhem of infiltration, he and his army faced contempt and disgust. Lt. Gen. Patankar wanted to win over the hearts and minds of the civilians what he called as ‘WHAM’. This ‘itch’ was a seed that sprouted into a project called Sangam, meaning confluence of streams, ideas, and thought processes. Using the platform of Sangam, the children of Kashmir got an opportunity to travel to other parts of the country to witness the culture and interact with other children. The program had an immense response and left a positive impact on the young ones. With this success, children from all parts of the country were then invited to spend few days with the children in Kashmir. He was called a madman by his friends, they had doubts and asked what if someone gets hurt or kidnapped, to which he said, “Tab ki tab sochenge”. A wave of patriotic pride wiped the audience as he concluded his speech to receive a standing ovation.
Growing up in the culturally rich state of Rajasthan, Adman Piyush Pandey took inspiration from the heritage and roots of this royal state. He advised the youth to value their roots and see India in all its beauty. The audience had the opportunity to view some of his best work in the span of 20 years of his advertising career.
Indian social activist and economist Chetna Gala Sinha’s ‘itch’ was to empower women in the rural villages of Maharashtra and aimed at educating these women about their rights. She was amazed at the zeal of the women who were keen learners and were as eager to bring a change in their life. With the enthusiasm of the village women and their need, they became the first all-women bank, first to open a business school for women and the first to start an all-women radio show. Chetna Gala Sinha expressed, “Never underestimate a person who is uneducated”. She had to unlearn what she had learned and started looking at problems from the perspective of the village women who are brave and smart. She says she learned one important lesson from the women, “Our courage is our capital”.
Author, Devdutt Pattanaik discussed his passion to read mythology and how he was drawn to the Indian epics and folklore from a very young age. When he realized that there was no consumable mythological content, his ‘itch’ for knowledge made him spend weekends writing content about mythology. He acted on his calling by selling ideas and spreading the knowledge from the vast treasure clove of mythological stories. He further shared how he looked the stories and tried implementing them to address various social as well as management issues.
Film Maker, Founder, and Executive Chairman — Mukta Arts Ltd. and Founder and Chairman, Whistling Woods International, Subhash Ghai had the ‘itch’ be an actor. However, when nothing worked in the favour of his acting career, he evolved into becoming a director. Having no background in the film industry his struggle was real, hard, which he surpassed with flying colours to become the ‘showman of the millennium’.
President, Whistling Woods International, Meghna Ghai Puri shared the dreams and vision of her father and quoted him saying, “If I ever make it big in the film industry, I will give it back by opening a school for people like me”. Meghna Ghai Puri spoke about her close bond with her father and her journey at Whistling Woods International. The firm belief of her father in her is what made her stronger and take on any difficulties that came her way.
Managing Director, Mukta Arts and Head, Academics, WWI Rahul Puri’s message was to grab your niche, to take on any opportunity and adapt to it and become masters at it. His thirst is to inspire the next generation, he advised the young aspirants that the longer you walk the path, the more paths open up for you. His core belief lies in having passion, imagination, doing hard work, discipline and support from his family and friends. He accentuated the fact that even the greatest multi-tasker cannot do everything on their own.
Promoter, Chairman, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Thyrocare, Dr. A. Velumani is a true inspiration to many who are in the corporate world, aiming to become entrepreneurs. His ‘itch’ was simple and aimed at achieving business volumes. Nothing stopped him from selling Thyroid tester for 100 rupees when it was being sold for 500 rupees in the market. He concluded by stating “Frugality helps”.
Nobody understands persistence better than the mountaineer Jamling Tenzing Norgay. The key takeaway from Jamling’s session was, “sometimes you’re extremely close to the goal but you need to turn back and start over again until the time is right! It is important to climb to the top but it is even more important to get back to the base alive.”
Falguni Nayar, the Founder and CEO of Nykaa.com graced the stage with her insightful presentation on the statistics of the growing business of the cosmetics e-commerce platform. She identified the unorganized cosmetic and beauty market and grabbed the opportunity to provide women with multiple brands and variety under one virtual roof. From an investment banker to an entrepreneur, her journey has been nothing less but inspiring.
Patricia Narayan, Director, Sandeepha Chain of Restaurants shared her eventful journey of life. The constant struggle was her companion for long until she achieved success. Her rags to riches story from selling food items from a cart to owning a chain of restaurants inspired the audience. She faced a huge setback in her picture perfect and successful life when she lost her daughter in a road accident. The sight of the corpse of her daughter brought to the hospital in a boot of a car and authorities denying respect to the victims of a road accident, led her to start ambulance service to help the victims, both alive and dead by taking them to the nearest hospital with dignity and respect.
With an entrepreneurial ‘itch’, Managing Director of Ambience Public is Advertising Pvt. Ltd., and an eminent figure in the advertising world, Ashok Kurien started with odd jobs trying to make money. Coming from a middle-class family, he explored various routes to earn money. The key take away from his speech is to drive his employees so that they can find the directions themselves. His mantra is to explore and reach the final goal.
Prahlad Kakkar is the man donning multiple feathers in his hat. He believes in overcoming fear and moving on. He says, “There wasn’t a single day I worked because each day I had a blast!” He believes in reinventing himself every new project that comes his way and firmly believes in ‘God lies in details’. He elaborated the law of Murphy- If anything has to go wrong, it will go wrong, saying one has to be prepared and anticipate Murphy. He realized his greatest calling is to teach young people about Murphy. The motto of PKSBE is ‘Beyond Fear’, the students are made to undergo the most stressful situations. PKSBE breaks from the traditional system of examination and teaching and is the first radical school of its own kind.
During the era when photography was looked down upon and never considered a serious career, Photographer, Dabboo Ratnani had the ‘itch’ to find truth through this art form. He found the passion in photography early in life and decided to pursue ‘filmy photography’. He concluded by saying, “I was in competition with myself, I wanted to outdo what I had done.” It’s the fear of failure that keeps us from taking risks.
Photographer and Film Producer, Atul Kasbekar quit engineering and realized he had an inkling towards photography and went ahead to study in Brooks Institute of Photography. He decided to the risk it further and began various ventures like celebrity management and producing movies other than doing photography. He mentioned the shift in the dynamics of video consumption and he emphasized on creating relatable content.
Waking up every day, going out there and hustling are the words Former Model and Bollywood Actor Dino Morea lives by, whose ‘itch’ is to go beyond good looks. He stressed the importance of sports and how it has helped him in donning the role of an entrepreneur. He had it tough during the initial modeling days and wondered if he was on the right path. He shared how people judge and talk behind one’s back, however, one should not stop but keep moving towards their ultimate goal, “If you live life on your own terms, the only one paying your bills is you, not anyone else”, were his motivating words.
Talking about sex has been a taboo in India, ironically from a country that centuries ago studied it as science. Founder Director of Heart To Heart Counselling Centre and Dean of the Institute of Human Technology (India) Dr. Rajan Bhonsle had an ‘itch’ to impart sex education and change this mindset. He started imparting sex education to prostitutes, eunuchs, celebrities, senior citizens and also the men in uniform. He has been ridiculed and insulted, accused of teaching dirty things, however, he didn’t give up. He deals with hatred by giving a copy of his book with a hope to change their perception of him and sex on the whole.
Akkai Padmashali, Transgender Social Activist voiced the indignity that is faced by their community at large. She narrated her journey and her struggle for acceptance even from her biological parents. Her fight has led her to stand tall and raise her voice against the plight of transgenders, which were merely into begging or prostitution. She retorted, “We are proper, but the society is improper”. Her ‘itch’ to highlight what is right continues to prevail, without offending and affecting others in society.
As stutterer, Chef Rahul Akerkar would be hesitant to partake in conversations even when he had something interesting to say. Determined to succeed, he stepped out of his comfort zone and started taking risks. His mantra is to simplify things and go to the core of the problem to resolve the same!
Actor and Director, Bharat Dabholkar entertained the audience with his easy humor and subtly gave out the most important message – ‘having fun while at work’. He emphasized that one must know their target audience as an entrepreneur and act accordingly. His ‘itch’ to be different could not have been better defined than his hilarious rickshaw story which he chose to buy over a bike.
Laxmi Agarwal an acid attack survivor showcased her strong, courageous personality who refuses to accept the ‘victim mentality’. She shared some heart-stirring words and left the audience in awe at her determination to lead her fight every day! She added, “Nor was I a victim before, nor am I a victim now, now will I be in future”. Her determination and will power gave hope to one and all present at the summit.
Govind Rai, Co-Founder, Insomniacs’ ‘itch’ was to answer that one question- What’s the need of the hour? He took inspiration from a real-life situation and thought how it could have been done differently. He retorted, “When you are wired to think that way, you start exploring and discovering solutions.”. He addressed his ‘itch’ by starting a digital marketing company catering to real estate when the concept was still at a nascent stage in India. He further stated, “Disruption is equal to growth”. To stay ahead of the curve, you need to have that one USP to make things happen.
Entrepreneur & Academician, Kaustubh Dhargalkar’s itch is to diseducate students and brings a change in the education system. The books that are being taught are far away from the reality, the application outdated. He says that students need to have hands-on experience about what they are learning and it does not have to be confined to the classrooms. He says, “We need to move to a system which makes students explore the present and dream about the future”.
Founder, The Bohri Kitchen, Munaf Kapadia thought hard before quitting his job at Google and pursuing his vision to take Bohri food to the world! Something that started as a cooking hobby for his mother turned into a grand business idea. He invited people to his home and offered them the sumptuous Bohri thali at a cost, the word quickly spread about the delicious food and the experience. As the Chief Eating Officer, he moved ahead with this dream and soon got featured in Forbes under 30.
Indian Television Producer Rajiv Lakshman shared the fascinating story about his journey to Roadies. Rajiv and his twin brother Raghu never gave up and kept pushing the limits even with minuscule income. The ‘itch’ to dare opened the roads for them and there was no turning back. Their hard work paid off and he gives one advice to all the aspirants, “Everybody gets a shot if you earn it”.
Actor and Assistant Director, Rumaan Kidwai got a culture shock when he stepped into the real world after completing his boarding school. His first experience of working in radio was thoroughly educative. He got the opportunity to work on Aamir Raza Husain’s play as an actor and he grabbed on the chance for the experience. He then moved on to the field of direction, he says, “the more you put yourself out there, the more opportunities will come your way.’
Director and Scriptwriter, Advait Chandan made it big with the movie Secret to Superstar. While drafting his script, he constantly improvised the script basis the feedback received from his friends and peers. He says, “My under confidence and anxiety helped me”. At the 17th draft, he finally started having faith in it. His self-doubt kept him in check and said: “it’s okay to be anxious and it’s okay to be afraid.”
Founder and CEO, WatConsult Rajiv Dhingra had an itch to start his own enterprise but was discouraged by his very own father, sister and even his two best friends. He wasn’t the kind to back down and kick-started his venture Wat Consult, due to the recession the flourishing business was affected and had to shut down becoming the solo entrepreneur. Rajiv was told to take up a job instead, he refused and remained persistent. He had foresightedness into the market and was awaiting when the right time will come for the boom in the social media industry. The hay days were not behind and his business started progressing once again which he then sold to Dentsu for 200 crore rupees.
An idea struck Shriyans Bhandari, Founder Greensole, when he realized that as an athlete he would discard a lot of running shoes and they would just be dumped. Shriyans and his friend now a co-founder, tore apart a pair of shoes and created slippers out of it. The key to ideas is curiosity and then finding solutions to those questions. Thus, began his venture into the creation of the brand Greensole. They commenced with participating in business plan competitions and winning a cash prize which was utilized for the business. They started tying up with corporates, and soon got forty corporates on board as part of CSR activities. They also tied up with a giant like Adidas for the donation of shoes which otherwise would have been burned. He says, “Sometimes things are easy but we just don’t try”.
Entrepreneur Timmy Mehta’s session was crisp and to the point. He mentioned, “Life is all about facing tough challenges, tumbling through obstacles, yet when one gets back up and keep forging ahead is what makes it more meaningful and worthwhile. You have to take things as they come, without giving up and most importantly without wasting time, which you cannot rewind.” Timmy Mehta ended the session with inspiring words for people present at the summit. He shared, ”This ‘itch’ to succeed is what will keep one going through the various struggles that head your way, converting a helpless situation into a win-win scenario”
Inspiration can come to anyone in any form and sometimes it can start young from the age group of 9 – 11, with a determination to do good deeds and to be different. Advika Nair’s Itch in life is to be different. She sparked a lot of questions among the audience with her confident narrative of the poem. She raised thought provoking questions about what is accepted blindly in the society. Her poem questioned the norms and challenged one to think differently. We also witnessed Aanya Puri and her friend Anamika who were saddened by the plight of stray cats and decided to help them through the Kool Katz initiative which was about raising funds to spread awareness and welfare by selling artwork of animals. They were soon approached by Taxi Fabrics to turn their vibrant paintings into fabrics to be used as linings in rickshaws and cabs.
The Itch Summit witnessed the launch of two start-ups by the students of PKSBE. While Raunaq Kakar launched Lawpreneurz, a first of its kind digital-global law platform, Abhimanyu Singh, and Deven Mahalley launched a platform dedicated to communal living space.
Excited about the launch of Lawpreneurz in the presence of Legal Luminary Anand Desai, Prahlad Kakar, Pratish Nair, Mitali Dutt Kakar, Founder and Director of Ad Film Making and Branding, PKSBE, Priya Menon, Founder and Director Marketing Communications and Outreach, Reah Cama Irani, Founder and Director of Operations, Raunak Kakar, Founder, said, “I am honoured to launch the platform Lawpreneurz in the presence of dignitaries, who have supported this idea and have helped me bring it alive. It is a platform, beneficial for one and all with an aim to resolve any queries and get benefited with the help of the existing legal system. Lawpreneurz is the one-stop solution for all the legal help that one can find in a simple and transparent manner.”
The launch of Zero Jhanjhat was done in the presence of Chetna Gala Sinha, Prahlad Kakar, Pratish Nair, Mitali Dutt Kakar, Founder and Director of Ad Film Making and Branding, PKSBE, Priya Menon, Founder and Director Marketing Communications and Outreach, Reah Cama Irani, Founder, and Director of Operations.
Speaking about the platform, Zero Jhanjhat, Abhimanyu Singh, Co-Founder, shared, “This day would go down in history as one of the most important days in our lives. We have addressed a challenge that every newcomer faces in a city- finding right accommodations!” Deven Mahalley, Co-Founder, said, “We have created a communal living space crafted to make ones living to experience worth the while. Designed to assure a lifestyle that is suited for one’s convenience, which offers comfortable living spaces amidst a curated community and like-minded people. With our utmost care, we try and cover all the necessities, starting from a premium accommodation, proper three-course meals, professional housekeeping, high-quality laundry services, unlimited Wi-Fi, transportation etc. A jhanjhat free life is all we promise!”
The event concluded with a stand-up comedy act titled Aisi Taisi Democracy by Varun Grover, Sanjay Rajoura, and Rahul Ram.
About PKSBE : The Prahlad Kakar school of Branding and Entrepreneurship is India’s first radical college, a one-of-its-kind institute which inculcates an extraordinary concept of education that goes by the tagline, ‘Beyond Fear’. This school of business is aimed at all those young dreamers who wanted to follow a dream but were too scared to even articulate them.One of the qualities that PKSBE wants to inculcate among its students is the risk-taking initiative. Owing to generic societal views – exploring opportunities to secure oneself in a job, the risk-taking factor, though inherent in most of the students is subdued. PKSBE thereby builds a conducive environment for the students to face and challenge their own fears and discover the entrepreneur in them.