Reproduced from ‘I did it’ Vol 2 by Times of India.
It was one of the most awaited times of the day, when the electric bulb lit up, for didn’t, for more than two hours in the day. It was a luxury to own a radio those days and useless to have a television set, thanks to the no electric supply. Growing up in Sitamarhi, one of the remotest places in Bihar near the Indo-Nepal border, was anything but easy in the 1980s. But Vishal Vivek learnt to grow up happy, like his seven
sisters, making do with what their engineer father could afford. They had to study either in the daylight or under lanterns when darkness crept in to the small home.
They found joys in the small things of life. In fact, reading was the young boy’s favourite hobby
from the time he was 8. But he would read anything other than his course books – Ramayana, Mahabharata, Gita, Puraan, Nehru, Prem Chandra and Rabindra Nath Tagore, to name a few.
To instill serious discipline in the young lad, Il-year-old Vishal was packed off to a hostel in Banka district of Bihar.
At 15, when he returned home after his Class X boards, his happy world came crashing down. His father was suffering from Alzheimer’s and had been bedridden for a year. With his father unwell and no male member in the family, Vishal had to leave the hostel and stay with his family. “In Bihar, even a young male is considered more capable than old females, sad but true,” says Vishal, now sitting in his office of SEO Corporation, a six-year-old company he co-founded and scaled up organically.
Meanwhile, Vishal enrolled himself in Class XI and married off one of his sisters a year later. Kolkata being the closest city, he left home to find a job there. His teacher’s empty flat helped him with free accommodation. He began giving tuitions and enrolled for BSc in Physics from IGNOU (Indira Gandhi National Open University).with a membership he had managed through someone at Indian Statistical Institute, Vishal began reading again, and the hopes of his childhood dream of becoming a scientist was
rekindled. His father’s worsening condition, however, made him rush back home. It was only after marrying off his second sister that he decided to move to Delhi. He took a small room on rent and started preparing for CAT, MAT and XAT exams. The results were encouraging as he had scored 99+ percentile in verbal ability (English).
His CAT scores in English got him a job as a content writer. With his first salary, Vishal bought a phone and a second-hand computer. Interestingly, the first job gave him more than he could see immediately.
Vishal quit the job after two months as the meagre salary couldn’t help pay his rent and meet other expenses. However, he didn’t lose touch with a few friends he had made there, one of them being his current business partner at SEO Corporation. With no place to stay, a friend Nagendra Singh invited Vishal to move in with him. Today, Nagendra Singh is a director in SO Corporation. Challenges, feels Vishal, are an essential part of life. “Tough times have not ended. I still have some great days
and some horrible ones. Earlier they were for survival, now they are for my growth – personal, professional and spiritual,” he says philosophically.
SO Corporation interestingly happened only with 78,000 a month, the salary he had been making. He got a friend with basic IT knowledge to design a website and Vishal began writing and promoting it. The year was 2011 and Vishal read about search engine optimization and slowly began promoting it. In March, the young man got his first client on LinkedIn. A month later, his father passed away. Vishal’s first salary was unfortunately used to travel home to attend his father’s funeral. Emotionally drained, Vishal immersed himself deeper in work, sometimes working for 36 hours at a stretch. The more he read, the more he wanted to try things out. He read about digital marketing and began implementing it. And though the next client came after nine months, Vishal had learnt the art of patience and tenacity.
For entrepreneurship, he says, is like a roller coaster ride with lots of ups and downs, and he was not the one to give up. Clients slowly started coming in. In three years, SEO Corporation almost touched the revenue of one crore. Interestingly, not a single rupee was spent on marketing. Vishal, like his name, has large dreams for India. “We are currently working on few products, which if successful, could become the next Google or Uber of India. I want to see India as we see Silicon Valley today.
I tell aspiring entrepreneurs, “Once you decide your goal, start early, keep learning, be around people better than you, and never ever give up,” he says, the soft face and softer smile not showing an inch of the fire burning inside.
This book was published by Times on India in 2018. Hemp Foundation started business in 2020 during lockdown and in just 2 years It has made a big impact in Hemp industry. Read more about our team at https://hempfoundation.net/about-us/
Vishal has written hundreds of articles on sustainability and hemp on leading websites like Canna Tech Today, Greenentrepreneur,