At BrilliantRead Media, it is always our endeavour to bring to our community some of the finest stories from the entrepreneurship world. As part of this, we invited a passionate entrepreneur – Samarth Bajaj for an exclusive interview with us. Samarth is an Entrepreneur, Leader, Design Expert, Consultant and Mentor. He is the Co-Founder and CEO at The Designers Class. Let’s learn more about his inspiring journey, his background and his advice for our growing community!
Excerpts from our exclusive interview with Samarth:
Talk us through your background and your journey as an entrepreneur, please;
I was born and brought up in Hyderabad in a business family, where I did my schooling up until the 12th grade. I’ve been fortunate enough to have held several leadership positions throughout my schooling years. It really helps lay a solid foundation for me to grow from.
I credit a lot of my personality development to the school I attended in my 11th & 12th – HPS. I then went on to complete my BBA from the Marshall school of business at USC, which gave me a significant amount of global exposure and opened my mind up to possibilities that I found enthralling.
Soon after graduating I returned to India and began working in my family-owned businesses which were involved in Films, Real Estate and Jewellery. However, I was also very keen to build something of my own and make my own mark and identity as an entrepreneur. Thankfully my family has always been extremely supportive of all my endeavours.”
At the age of 25, I then branched out and started my own boutique residential real estate business. This was the first time I got to execute my vision in its complete entirety and proved to be a massive confidence booster for me personally.
At the age of 30, I then went on to co-found India’s first official Bollywood-based indoor entertainment centre – ‘House of Stars’, inside Imagica in Mumbai. We have licensed partners such as Dharma films, ARKA, Fox films, Zee music, Mukta Arts and the like. This was an ambitious project, which gave me a fair amount of personal satisfaction and really appealed to the entrepreneur in me.”
A few years later, at the age of 32, I then set out on the path to building ‘The Designer’s Class’ – a first-of-its-kind, holistic e-learning platform offering courses in various verticals of design, taught by the best in the industry.
I’d like to believe that this is just the beginning for me. Entrepreneurship really gets my wheels churning and currently, my world is consumed by TDC. We have very exciting plans for the company that we hope to introduce to the world soon.
What attracts you towards entrepreneurship instead of a corporate career?
Having grown up in a business family, entrepreneurship is the only way of life that I’ve been exposed to. Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way either. It’s not easy being an entrepreneur, regardless of what level you’re at. You’re the captain of the ship at any given point in time and that comes with a substantial amount of responsibility, dedication, sacrifice and stress.
However, ideas change the world and an entrepreneur is the facilitator of ideas. They have the gumption to do what it takes, to make that idea come to life and make it realize its entire potential.
I believe that the foremost factor that drives entrepreneurs is the capability to have a positive impact, be it on certain societies or civilisation as a whole. Problem identification problem solving is what fuels an entrepreneur, all other facets and ancillary benefits.”
Entrepreneurship is one of the few paths in the modern world that lauds being the jack of trades because you’ve got to be multiple-faceted to be an entrepreneur. I’ve always been the jack of all trades, I’ve always been driven by facilitating positive change and getting people together to share the same vision and work towards the same goals, hence entrepreneurship for me has always been an extremely natural fit.
‘The Designers Class’ is such a unique name; talk us through more about it, please. Our audience would also love to know what kind of problem you are solving?
The necessity of design is becoming more and more apparent to the world. The design actually encompasses our lives, it’s applicable to the clothes we wear, the spaces we live and work from, the products we use and consume, to the way we present ourselves our ideas and the way we communicate. Design is in everything we touch, feel, hear, say and consume.
Today companies like Apple and Tesla have grown by leaps and bounds based on design and innovation predominantly. However, design education has been stuck in a time warp. The traditional design education offerings are outdated, not easily accessible, extremely unaffordable to a large segment of society and have very poor infrastructure.”
I’ve always personally been very passionate about design from a very young age. I’ve been researching the field of design education for over a decade now, but couldn’t identify a solution that could be applicable on a mass scale. Now, technology has evolved and users have gotten used to the concept of digital education, creating an environment which design education can benefit from as well.
This is what led to the birth of The Designer’s Class, which has been founded with one definitive motive – to democratize design education across by making it accessible, affordable, relevant and engaging for all design aspirants, regardless of age, geographical location or income brackets.
During this COVID-19 crisis, what are the measures you have undertaken to continue your business without disruption?
TDC was born in the thick of the pandemic, which did present us with a fair amount of difficulties, but also enabled us to build a robust structure that can deal with any challenge.
Certain challenges like working virtually were easy to deal with because it became the way for the world to function. We formulated strong measures and systems to ensure motivation and efficiency, even while working virtually as a company.
However, certain offline operations were essential, especially since we curate and shoot our own content. This was a challenge that was difficult to deal with, but we worked with leaner teams. Created a skeleton structure that enabled us to work within the bare minimum framework even during restrictions, to ensure production content on time.
How do you manage to keep going despite the challenges? What drives you?
The challenges drive me, to be honest. All of life is a process of becoming stronger by overcoming obstacles and challenges. In Buddhism, they actually teach to celebrate your obstacles, because they facilitate growth.”
As an entrepreneur, challenges have to excite you, because the minute you view a challenge negatively instead of positively, you lose the capacity to deal with it, thereby hindering your own progression.
Also, having conviction and undying faith in the potential of what you’ve set out to build, will automatically give you the strength and skills to overcome any challenge.
Who do you believe has been the biggest source of motivation in your daily life?
I’m a dreamer and my dreams of creating a positive shift in the world motivate me immensely. However cliched this might sound, I actually wake up very charged every morning because I’m eager to see my dreams turn into reality.
Our bodies will fade away into oblivion, but our legacies have the potential to be immortal, this thought is my source of motivation.”
What are some of the strategies that you believe have helped you grow as a person?
Some key learnings that have helped me grow are:-
1) Learn from failure, never fear it and never get disheartened by it. Failure teaches you more than success ever will.
2) Don’t take success too seriously, your choices are half chance.
3) Do what you love, but realize that even while doing what you love, there will be certain tasks that you don’t love that require doing, make sure you do them with the same amount of dedication.
4) Put in the work and be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nothing worth building was.
5) Grow together. Success is never achieved single-handedly, it’s always a team effort, so ensure that your team grows along with you.
6) There is no substitute for loyalty. Relationships are the real assets that you build.
7) Work towards making a positive impact and all other benefits will automatically follow.
In your opinion, what are the keys to success?
Keys to success according to me are:-
Perseverance, because good things take time.
Adaptability, because the only thing constant in this world is change.
A Strong Work Ethic, because unethical success will never last. It takes decades to build a reputation and minutes to destroy it. At the end of the day your reputation is your true legacy.
Authenticity, because it’s the only way to develop a unique solution to the world’s problems.
Positivity, because it’s the divine light that attracts people to you, and success is achieved only on the back of a strong team.
Conviction, because belief fuels dedication and loyalty.
Compassion, because not all benefit and success is monetary, some gains mean a lot more.
What advice would you give students and young professionals who want to have a successful career?
I think this generation of young people is rather exceptional. They are fearless, they are worldly, they are very intelligent and they are socially conscious. I interact with a fair amount of young adults in their early 20s and I’m very inspired by their ideas and thoughts.
However, if there was a piece of advice I’d give the young adults of today is to be patient with their ideas and desires. We live in a world of instant gratification, which I see as a huge problem.
Results are expected on an expedited basis and people either feel let down very quickly or give up too easily. Any idea that builds true value, is valuable because it’s causing a foundational change in the world. These changes, these revolutions, take time to bear fruit. Be patient and your ambitions will not elude you.
From a business perspective, I encourage young adults to gain some experience in sales. Sales help you build confidence, help you understand human beings and help you understand the foundation around which all businesses are built. All businesses are selling you something, be it a product, a service or an experience.”
I also strongly think that young adults need to study some facets of traditional Indian business methodology. The new world of entrepreneurship has seen an unrealistic focus on valuations driven by several unsustainable factors. India has had a thriving entrepreneurial landscape for centuries and a very efficient mode of functioning. Healthy control of expenses results in healthy bottom lines and sustainable businesses that have lasted for decades. This is an approach that needs to be learned by young adults. Build value, don’t chase valuation.