At 32, Bengaluru-based entrepreneur Vikram Ahuja quite seems to have cracked the code — two start-ups and having represented the country at the Asian Open Salsa Championships ’07 as a professional dancer aside, the enthusiast is up for more. In a candid tete-a-tete, the biz-whiz-cum-filmmaker tells us what keeps him ticking — from his recent travel venture for the intrepid traveller bitten by wanderlust to how he loves to dabble between many roles.
"I’m obsessed with building stories. Everything I’ve even ventured into was solely because I was really passionate about it. In 2011, I travelled with a bunch of strangers to something called Burning Man, a music and arts festival which happens in the desert near Las Vegas. The event brings together people from all walks of life — artists, entrepreneurs, musicians etc. I was amazed at how quickly a bunch of strangers can become close companions based on a few powerful shared experiences which brings people together in a much stronger manner when people are travelling than in our day-to-day life. Returning from Burning Man with lifelong friends and memories that stayed for so long convinced me that travel is a lot more than just visiting a destination; it’s more about the people you experience those places and events with. That’s probably how Byond started," shares Vikram, speaking about how the idea grew.
Vouching by how nothing beats risk-taking, he adds, "Our first successful experiment was when we decided to plan the India to Bangkok road trip. Being the first-ever expedition of it’s kind, we ran a very focused campaign to target road-trippers and we received an incredible response with over 200 enquiries per day!"
Driven by the desire to don many hats, Vikram tells us how he believes in compartmentalising. "Many a times, I’ve been asked to choose what I love most between filmmaking, dancing and start-up. To be honest, I think there are plenty of similarities between the three. Filmmaking requires the same hustle and approach as it would take for a start-up, to take an idea, execute it, identify and build the right audience for your product (in this case, films). So in that aspect, I definitely identify with being an entrepreneur the most. That said, I probably think as a filmmaker, most of the times, as I try to build narratives for everything I do!"
On days when he’d like to switch the work mode off, this is what Vikram does: "While most people think a start-up guy’s life isn’t easy, I think it’s all about striking the right balance. As somebody who’s always been passionate about sharing beautiful experiences, I make sure I indulge in varied activities like socialising, conducting art fairs, and performing arts. I’m also quite a foodie, so catching up on local cuisines and learning about varied cultures from the localities from different parts of the world are also some of my interests."
Unfazed by the massive mushrooming of start-ups, Vikram adds, "I intend to give people the opportunity to tell a tale through their travel expeditions. I also wish to work with kids as storytellers and setting up travel communities. Also, planning a fun experiment to combine these two passions of mine, by building a mini webseries around ‘Life in a start-up’, inspired by real life events that happen everyday."