FOUR YEARS OF ASHWAMEDH GROUP
During my days of MBA (2008-2010), I and my friend Jitesh Bhilare and Rahul Mahadik used to sit on the bench on the hill top of Kharghar close to Vipassana centre. While studying in B.V.I.M.S.R. Belapur it was our regular practice to drive to that hilly region in Jitesh’s spacious Tata Estate car and sit there watching the greenery in the valley down and discuss our future plans. While Rahul used to talk a lot about his dreams of owning a sports car, a luxurious apartment in the heart of Mumbai and a lovely beautiful girlfriend, I and Jitesh used to discuss ‘Entrepreneurship’ and ‘Self-Employment’ frequently. In the mid of final year of MBA a blurred picture of ‘ASHWAMEDH GROUP’ started taking shape in my mind. It was my over-ambitious thought to start a ‘Conglomerate type’ of Organization which will work in the fields of Media, Education and Social Sector simultaneously which I discussed with Jitesh but hailing from Hospitality field Jitesh was interested more in Hotel and Restaurant kinds of Businesses. We started working on researching for his plan first. We discussed many concepts like franchisee of some food chain, fast-food centre, tent-type tourist accommodation etc. To understand the business plans of these businesses we also visited MSME in Andheri and read and xeroxed many business plans. But as the campus interviews of colleges started we decided to focus on studies and stopped our ‘entrepreneurship-related meetings’. Days passed and one by one we all three friends started working with some organizations. Rahul was happy with what he was doing but I and Jitesh kept meeting on regular intervals to motivate each-other for the ‘self-employment risk’.
I was too quick to realize that I am not born to do 9-5 kind of Job and won’t be able to work for others for longer time; I decided to quit my Job as a Marketing Manager of NIIT Vasai and pursue my dream of entrepreneurship. I left my job in July 2010 and in the same month decided to start an Organization which will work for Children. Being a co-founder of coaching classes in Santacruz from year 2004-2008 small business was not new for me, but still I was anxious about ‘how to go about new venture’. I neither had money in my pocket nor a business plan in my mind. So I decided to adopt a ‘EVOLUTION’ strategy. Whole human race is product of Evolution so why can't I allow to let my Organization evolve the way it wants to get evolved? I wanted to start a ‘Social Enterprise’ and so without team it was not possible at all. In the months of June and July 2010, I approached many friends and discussed my plan with them.
In inception, this was the teams I formed
Ashwamedh Kalamanch: Rakesh Dudwadkar, Ajay Kadam and Anant Chavan
Ashwamedh Foundation: Jitesh Bhilare, Rahul Mahadik
Ashwamedh Sports Club: Jitendra Patel, Rajendra Balsara and Abdul Hakim Ansari
We all invested some capital amount to start our work and this way Ashwamedh Group was formed. We celebrated its inception on 1stAugust 2010 after we got permission from my School ‘Samarth Vidyalaya, Vidyanagari, Santacruz’ for ‘All Mumbai level Drawing Competition’ our very first event. And this is how 1stAugust was decided as ‘FOUNDATION DAY’ of Ashwamedh Group.
‘Ashwamedh Kalamanch’s Drawing Competition’ (AKDC-10) was major event as 650 students participated in the drawing competition from all parts of Mumbai and Thane. We raised money through this event and donated it all to our School and thanked them for giving us most needed opportunity to start from somewhere. After the success of AKDC-10, in a meeting at Five Gardens, Jitesh and Rahul started forcing me to register the Organization asap. But I convinced them that we must first complete at least one year of our operations and test our seriousness towards the start-up. Days past but no other event was carried out by team and so one fine day when Rakesh approached me with a plan to participate in Maharashtra level Drama Competition, I agreed with him. We rented a practice hall, hired a director and started rehearsing for ekankika (skit) ‘Lakh Lakh Chanderi’. Our drama got good response from the audience and Rakesh got appreciated by certificate for his acting in the competition. And that’s where we focussed more and more on production under the banner of ‘Ashwamedh Kalamanch’. Events, Dramas, Shortfilms, Webserial etc. occupied first two years of ‘Ashwamedh Kalamanch’. In two years we made around 40 videos and reached around 5,00,000 viewers through social media. 10 webisodes of Hasya-Jatra web-serial are still viewed by YouTube Channel Viewers. We produced many low-budget short-films. Out of which ‘Save Birds’ was screened in ‘Yashwantrao Chavan Auditorium’ in ‘Vasundhara Film Festival’ on the following day of world environment day in 2011 and then in ‘Script International Shortfilm festival in Kochi’ organized by Lions club. Our Shortfilm ‘Nakoshi’ won first prize of ‘Vasai Mahotsav’ in 2012 and ‘Wrong Turn’ became most viral video of Ashwamedh Kalamanch. To monetize our efforts we relied on Google Adsense and Fund-raising from Actors, Membership fees etc. but nothing worked to the expected level and Production costs kept escalating with every new short film.
In 2012, we finally decided to register our Organization. There was no point in registering ‘Ashwamedh Kalamanch’ as there wasn't any proper ‘inflow model’ for the same. Hence we went ahead to register ‘Ashwamedh Foundation’ sighting support from the art-lovers and trustee-fees of interested ‘trustees’; Around 45-50 people worked with us during Ashwamedh Kalamanch days, but apart from regular 8 of us 4 more showed interest in becoming part of foundation. After the Diwali of 2012 we started registration process of Ashwamedh Foundation. Our Lawyer took around 6 months to register our Organization and finally we got registered as Charitable Society on 29th January 2013. Meanwhile I resigned from Ashwamedh Kalamanch by appointing new Director to run the Kalamanch, and started focussing on learning about NGO sector. I knew that completely Art-devoted Foundation won’t be feasible option to form a trust, so we included Education and Environment to our core areas of work in Foundation. I wanted to lay proper foundation for Ashwamedh Foundation but also wanted Artists of Ashwamedh Kalamanch to take responsibility to run Ashwamedh Kalamanch as we had already invested our two crucial years and done so much work in art-field. But it was my grave mistake to think like that.
The day I left the ‘leadership position’ of Ashwamedh Kalamanch, it started sinking and so I had to merge it with ‘Indifame Media’, a media company which I formed on 3rd Birthday of Ashwamedh Group. On the same day, I also launched the Logo for ‘Ashwamedh’s Knowledge Centre’ and decided to start a study centre under Knowledge centre. In this way 1stAugust has seen birth of 3 Organizations under ‘Ashwamedh Group’.
1st August 2010 : Ashwamedh Kalamanch & Ashwamedh Group (Main)
1st August 2011 : Ashwamedh Foundation
1st August 2012: Indifame Media
1st August 2013: Ashwamedh’s Knowledge Centre and merged Ashwamedh Kalamanch completely into Indifame Media
We inaugurated our first centre of Ashwamedh’s Knowledge Centre in Santacruz in Vakola Masjid Area in Diwali of 2013 but had to close it down in just 2 months as the premises went into SRA scheme of Government.
Ashwamedh Foundation is the only registered Organization out of the 3 (Indifame Media, Ashwamedh Foundation and Ashwamedh’s Knowledge Centre) and it’s obvious that we are focussing more on it due to legal compliances of the same. But the underline principle remains the same. More than social work, we are into NGO management and looking forward to build a good team of Social workers and assure the growth of Ashwamedh Foundation. We have got our Society Registration Certificate and Trust Registration Certificate, and planning to apply for 80 G certificate after FY 2014-2015. You can visit our website to have a look at our work so far. We have successfully completed AUDIT for the 15 Months of our work period and have Auditor’s Reports for the FY 2012-2013 and FY 2013-2014. First quarter of FY 2014-2015 was little sloppy but I am sure that we will shift our gears soon.
These four years of ‘Ashwamedh Group’ taught me many important lessons of entrepreneurship and life. I have understood that without ‘consistency’, no organization can survive. I have learned that most important asset of any organization is ‘the people’ associated with it. I have accepted it that ‘nothing is easy, one must work hard and make things happen rather than waiting for things to change’. I have recognized it that ‘you can neither change minds of people who are stuck in 9-5 routine nor you can instil love for entrepreneurship in others’. Running your own Organization is not a ‘piece of Cake’, hence those who are doing it successfully are true heroes in my eyes. As far as future plans of Ashwamedh Group are concerned, I will keep them sharing with you all time to time. Keep visiting
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Thank you all for all your love and support.
I have read it somewhere that writing your goals increases your success rate to 48% but discussing your plans with your friends can give you success rate of whopping 76%. So I will be as transparent as possible when it comes to sharing ‘Ashwamedh Group’s Journey and Future’ with you. Your feedbacks are welcome. Keep visiting my Blog ‘World of Deepbaazigar’.