As a seasoned entrepreneur with 30 years of business experience, I have been fortunate to achieve great success in my career. When I think about giving back to the community, money is easy, but giving my time and knowledge is even better. Ten years ago, I started an annual entrepreneurship programme as a way to support start-ups and struggling businesses. I called it RedPill because, in the film, The Matrix, you choose that colour if you want to move to a different level in your life.
The year-long programme, now under the Red Knights Academy, is free for promising entrepreneurs and taught by me and other successful businesspeople. Students learn skills that will guide them towards success — how to do sales and marketing, write a business plan, fundraise, deal with legal issues, and so on. Their idea is tested on a Shark Tank-like panel after the programme.
I firmly believe personalised attention is important in mentorship. I don’t leave my students after they graduate — I become their unpaid employee. My goal is to make as many millionaires as possible, so I hand-hold them.
I have given them the tools, but they can call me if they need further help. I guide them when they don’t perform. If they face legal challenges, my in-house lawyers will assist them. In return, I only ask that they help other budding entrepreneur when they succeed.
I have mentored over 200 students from all walks of life over the years. I had a mother and son who wanted to make tea from another person’s product when I stopped them. “What can you do?” I asked. It turned out that she specialised in making Indian masala for chicken, mutton, and fish.
Today she’s the owner of Red Spice. I facetiously suggested the name in class because our programme was called RedPill. The company now manufactures Aaja Premium Masalas and exports the spices globally.
I believe there is an abundance of knowledge in the world. When you give more, you get more. In providing solutions for my students’ business hurdles, I also learn in the process — of love, resilience, and the dark side of human nature. It’s a never-ending learning journey.