A family of more than a dozen living in a mud house in a remote village, 50 km away from Allahabad, had been my reality growing up. We would huddle at one place on rainy nights as the house roof would leak, and water would seep through the walls and ceiling. We were farmers without almost any farms of our own and would work on others' farms on barter.
There was no school in the village, so mom opened a school 6 km away from home in a hut where a couple of us were the first students. She would tell us, 'Study to go out of this village and explore the world,' and we would cover 12 km a day on our feet to and from the school.
My first job was with Reliance as security, where I would work at a gate to check IDs. I earned Rs 8,800 a month which made my family spectacularly happy. My mom earned Rs 270 a month, and my dad had to borrow money to make ends meet. They had every reason to feel good about my first job, but mom had prepared me for something far better.
My Interest In Fitness
I was 12 when I moved away from my family and the village to study in a college. I started to tuition younger kids to help with my education.
I got my undergraduate degree in Economics, and throughout my time in college, I was part of the NCC (National Cadet Corps), where I realized my interest in sports. And all my farm work from the past came to aid my performance. I had good endurance and a particular liking for running.
At NCC, I imagined myself being an Army officer someday. But things didn't go as planned, and my lack of money forced me to seek a job. This is how I found myself checking IDs at the gates of Reliance. I couldn't bear it. I wanted to do so much more. This was when I recalled what my manager then, Col. Verma, had said to me: "When you don't like your work, do it so well that people think you're overqualified."
I was soon promoted to an office coordinator, where I supported the Col. in managing the security guard force and the managers. I worked on my written English and learnt the computer operating basics while working in security. Subsequently, I got selected to perform at Goldman Sachs as an analyst in 2007. But it also meant that I learned spoken English quickly and evolved as a corporate professional.
In 2014, I went on to do an MBA from Chicago Booth on a 100% scholarship from Goldman Sachs, where I was an Executive Director. Things were great, but soon something concerning happened that gave me a fret in my life. My father got diagnosed with blocked arteries, and I got diagnosed with a heart condition that led to surgery. Restoring my heart health without surgery and finding my fitness back helped me with a perspective.
As I studied more, I realized that lifestyle-led diseases are a more significant issue than poverty itself. This is how I decided to build something that will allow people to get fitter at heart rather than focusing on the aesthetics of big biceps and six-pack abs. This is how I made an endurance-first tech platform, Fitpage, that focuses on heart fitness and education. I want to change the way people live, eat and move, one step at a time.
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