- Hi! My name is Devesh Rakhecha a Chartered Accountant and entrepreneur from Jodhpur, Rajasthan (India).
- For several years I worked in various finance roles while running several startups (failed) on the side!
- In 2018, I co-founded YearBook Canvas, a self-publishing memory and data company that offers yearbooks and memoirs in both digital and physical format.
- In early 2019, we raised our first seed fund (INR 2 crores) from prominent investors at a valuation of almost I million USD.
- This motivated me to help other entrepreneurs do the same and I also co-founded – Marwari Catalysts!
- Here is my story of How I started two successful startups, raised seed money and bounced back after dealing with 3 failed startups!
Chartered Accountant by an accidental choice!
Growing up, I loved numbers and finance but was always more interested in technology!
In fact, becoming a Chartered Accountant was not my plan…however my grandfather always wanted to see me as ‘Devesh Rakhecha, The Chartered Accountant’!
My family was emotionally connected with my career as they thought this would be the right choice for me. They were right on their part and moreover, at that time I was following ‘let’s go with the flow’ concept.
So, I chose this career path for the love of my family and vice- versa…a decision I never regretted!
I gave my best, with the support of my family and friends, passed the tough exams and became a Chartered Accountant in 2006.
Moving to a bigger city…only to quit and return to my hometown!
After completing my CA (2007), I decided to leave my hometown (Jodhpur) and move to Mumbai (the financial hub of India) for better opportunities!
I was immediately recruited by Morgan Stanley…and was all set to ace the corporate world, at least that is what I thought!
Over a period of time, my inner self longed to return to my hometown, Jodhpur!
I soon realised that I wanted to have a bigger and better life…but in my home town not in a big city away from family and friends!
Finally, after 5 long years in Mumbai, in 2012, I decided to shift back to my hometown (Jodhpur).
Quitting my well-paying job in an international bank to return to a smaller city with ‘no job in hand’ was by far one of the toughest decisions to make!
Luckily my wife supported and encouraged me to follow my heart!
Working full time and dealing with 3 failed startups
The best part of being a Chartered Accountant is ‘you never run short of job offers!’…and within a short span of time of returning home, I found another opportunity in Financial Planning and Analysis!
However, even after moving back to my hometown, I was not satisfied (contrary to what I had expected)…there was a constant void hitting my mind!
Somewhere inside of me, I wanted to be an entrepreneur…so while working for a full-time job, I launched my first startup!
I would start office early, and drive almost 25 km one way! Then get back home by say 7-8 pm and work on my startup!
After very hectic and tiring 9 months, and after draining my energy and burning my money, I wound up my business!
The same thing happened with my second startup!
In fact, my third venture was a unique business, but because of no startup eco-system in my hometown (Jodhpur), I gave up the business after burning some money!
So, in the 6 years (2012-2018), I changed 4 jobs and along with running 3 startups which failed miserably!
But here I learnt a big lesson ‘I realised that Entrepreneurship is like your child which should be driven with passion and 100% focus and it can never be part-time!’
(Of course, this is not true for everyone and every business, but most businesses need a lot of time and energy which cannot be given if working full time!)
Quitting my job (yet again) with no plan
“If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose.”
I was a certified CA with a stable job but I always felt something missing…as if Monday morning was making me tiresome, I was waiting for a Saturday evening and I wished Sundays would last forever!
I was certainly looking for something that would give me happiness inside out and that was being an ‘Entrepreneur’!
Most importantly, I wanted to put a full stop to my ‘let’s give it a go attitude’ and no longer wanted to make any accidental choices!
Finally, in mid-2018, with no business idea and no plans, I decided to take the leap of faith and quit my cushy 9 to 7 job as the Head of Finance!
All I knew was – ‘I was ready to do some soul searching and understand what I wanted to do most. And then give it my all.’
The idea of YearBook Canvas was born!
One fine evening, I was with my colleague in one of the famous coffee shops here in Jodhpur; The Book Cafe.
It struck upon me to start a venture that could preserve memories especially those of students at school, college, MBA etc.
And this time my attitude was different – It was not ‘let’s try this.’ It was ‘yes, let’s do this!’
That’s how Yearbook Canvas was born in 2018 and there has been no turning back!
Over a period of time, we raised funds and grew our venture greatly.
While raising seed funds for Yearbook Canvas, we realised the importance of startup eco-system which is lacking in almost all Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities of India.
A lot of startups in smaller cities with wonderful ideas and efficient startups fail, because of the lack of this eco-system.
We decided to create and strengthen the startup ecosystem and that’s how I co-founded “Marwari Catalysts” with Mr. Sushil Sharma (he is one of the finest entrepreneurs and mentors for guiding newbies and promoting startup ecosystem)!
Even though I am one of the founders of Marwari Catalysts, my major focus is always on scaling up Yearbook Canvas and making it the world’s No.1 Memory & Data company.
Timeline of starting and running Yearbook Canvas
- Qualifying as a Chartered Accountant and moving to Mumbai and working at Morgan Stanley.
- Life was good, but I wanted to get back to my hometown (Jodhpur).
- Quitting my job in Mumbai and moving back to my hometown and starting all over.
- In the span of 6 years, I worked in various roles which include MIS, Compliances, Technologies and Marketing, changed 4 jobs and also started 3 startups which failed miserably
- I had analyzed lots of startups..their success stories and their failures! I myself failed 3 startups before this, so I was able to figure out the optimal way to start a business.
- Quit my job to give 100% to discover what I wanted from life! I knew starting a business my passion but I needed a break to get more clarity.
- And after a few months, Yearbook Canvas’ was born.
- Initially, we started our operations from the co-working space, outsourced most of the activities except for the core business activities. This way we were able to focus on scaling up the business and raising funds as well.
- Within a short span of time, Yearbook Canvas has become India’s No.1 yearbook publishing company with the best of educational institutions as our clients!
- Initially, when we started it was difficult to ask for money…but within 6 months, we could raise our first seed funds for Yearbook Canvas at a valuation of USD 1 MN!
- The funds came in from a few prominent angel investors, who were from the same city as well as few investors from Hong Kong.
- One of the leading venture capital firms based at Pune (India) also participated in the same round.
Take the Leap of faith and build something great!
The world is full of opportunities, and the same will knock the doors of those who are willing to create something bigger than oneself.
Nobody is going to give it to you; you have to work for your dreams. There are no set formulas for success except for a positive attitude.
To win big, you have to take (calculated) risks. Be ruthlessly persistent and have a razor focus!
Also, I believe that life is a journey, not a destination so keep learning, keep falling, keep failing, keep enjoying, keep shining and above all keep smiling because failure teaches you more than success.
YearBook Canvas is a self-publishing memory and data company that offers Yearbooks and memoirs in both digital and physical format for schools, colleges, universities and companies.
The company claims it has so far published over one lakh yearbooks for more than 100 elite institutes like the IITs, IIMs, medical and law colleges, apart from some international institutions.
For corporate memory books, they are working for multiple MNC’s. You can find them at YearBookCanvas.com / +91-9549196000.
(Image edited by Ankit Lodhi)