In this episode of The Balls Of Steel Show, our host Sarthak Varshney gets in conversation with a distinguished individual Shubham Patil of Nuts Over Web. This story of an affable boy and a destiny of struggle only took him to the heights of success. In this conversation with Shubham, he gave The BOSS an enticing perspective of how a Phoneix rises from its ashes.
WHAT BUSINESS ARE YOU RUNNING BECAUSE OF WHICH WE CAN SAY THAT YOU HAVE GOT THE BALLS OF STEEL?
I am Shubham Patil, managing director of Nuts over Web and we are a Public Relations agency. We are into Marketing and Public Relations and have been working for almost 3 years now. We curate custom-tailored plans for our clients, where brand authenticity is at the core.
LET’S DIVE DEEPER INTO OUR CONVERSATION SHUBHAM, WHAT HAS YOUR JOURNEY BEEN LIKE TILL NOW FROM THE POINT YOU STARTED?
My journey has been from riches to rags to riches. I come from a good background as my dad was a local politician at the time when I was growing up. I had the privilege of everything when I was growing up. But five or six years back when my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer, things changed. This was the time when I broke down emotionally as well as financially. Then I decided that I had to go out and get the money for the family since I was the breadwinner now.
So I decided to shift to Pune from Kolhapur. I started my business by selling 7A quality shoes. After four months of getting into this business, I realize that this was my thing and I want to dive deeper into it. However, after a while, the person who used to supply me the shoes stopped completely. So the business completely collapsed.
So I decided to find a job so as to get a monthly income. I started as a telecaller which was the job my CEO thought I was good at. As time passed, the company introduced me to a wide spectrum of Marketing and Public Relations. I left the job after one year and joined another UK based firm. I was working here for ten months and fortunately, this too was a Marketing and Public Relations company.
This is how I started ‘Nuts Over Web’. I sat with my friends and I said that I wanted to start something of my own. One of my friends told me to go ahead with it. After 25 days of having this conversation, we put the idea on paper. This was the beginning of the execution of our plan. I would say it was a privilege that the same friend who gave me a go-ahead, was one of the first employees of the company as well.
SO MOVING AHEAD IN THE CONVERSATION SHUBHAM WHAT WAS YOUR EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND LIKE?
I’m a half Engineer and a full Bachelor of Business Administration graduate. I did my engineering for three years and that is when I chose to back out of it. I have never been the guy for whom a degree mattered.
WHERE CAN WE TRACE BACK YOUR BUSINESS INSTINCT FROM?
The initial instincts were to earn the bread and butter for the house. My dreams nowhere collided with being an entrepreneur when I was a child. I was of the mindset, as time passes I will find something thing to do. I believed that the right things would fall into place.
PLEASE TELL US THROUGH THIS CONVERSATION SHUBHAM WHAT WAS YOUR MINDSET WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED OFF WITH YOUR BUSINESS?
It was around 18 when I decided to move out and start getting things done. I had a friend who was running a successful business on Instagram. I went to him and discussed that I wanted to do something of my own. He showed me his work and told me that I could get the shoes at the same price at which he got them, and if I were able to sell them, he’d give me more. This is how it all got started.
If opportunity knocks, my doors have always been open. If I used to find anything profitable, I would go for it. Around this time, my mindset was inclined towards getting profits.
DID YOU MAKE ANY KIND OF INVESTMENT FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
It started off with zero investment. The deal which we had was that I will have to sell the stock in a given time period and after giving him his share, whatever left -was mine. This was the early moulding that put me in the bracket of entrepreneurship.
SHUBHAM TELL US MORE THROUGH THIS CONVERSATION WHAT WAS YOUR MOTHER’S SUPPORT AT THIS TIME?
My mother has been really supportive of almost everything that I have done. She always says that if you believe in it and you think you can make it happen, then you should go for it.
WHAT WAS YOUR MINDSET WHEN YOU WERE TAKING A SWITCH FROM A JOB TO YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
The switch from having the freedom and then getting inside the corporate culture was easy for me. I wasn’t familiar with what the corporate culture actually looked like. And I didn’t know that it was going to take away my freedom.
I realized that my freedom was hampered. But I didn’t quit because there was no fallback plan. My first priority was to secure my home and then think about expanding.
HOW DID YOU MANAGE YOUR DEGREE SIMULTANEOUSLY WHILE RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS?
I had to inform my college authorities about my situation and they were very supportive of it. So, I used to concentrate on my work and just take a twenty-five-day break to study for exams. I have seen a lot of good people on my journey. The MD of the company for which I was working, was supportive enough to give me a twenty-five-day break to prepare for my exams.
SHUBHAM TELL US VIA OUR CONVERSATION WHAT WAS THE STRUGGLE LIKE WHEN YOU HAD TO SWITCH BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN YOUR JOB AND YOUR COLLEGE?
The transition was really hard initially. But what kept me going was that if I could come down to this life, why couldn’t I try to go back to the life I initially enjoyed?
If I could come down from riches to rags, then I could also make a way up to riches. My bad days were when we had tea for dinner. However, this is something that I can forget. This is because it is because of those situations that I have become the person I am today.
WHAT WAS YOUR MINDSET WHEN YOU HAD TO SWITCH BETWEEN YOUR JOBS? WHAT WAS YOUR WORK AT THE CREATIVE AGENCY LIKE?
I have always been the guy who has believed in making simpler goals. All I had in mind was that I have to sell the products. Moving to a job at the creative agency was like making a transition from a pond to a sea.
Everything was so new and there were several things that I had to explore. I was quite overwhelmed for the first two months. The transition was fun for me.
WHAT WAS THE IDEA BEHIND STARTING YOUR OWN COMPANY? HOW IS YOUR COMPANY DIFFERENT FROM THE ONE YOU HAVE WORKED FOR?
I was very good at talking to people and convincing them to buy stuff. ‘Nuts Over Web’ started as a digital marketing agency and expanded to PR. Every creative agency has its own credibility. What I learned from other agencies was how to sell the products.
WHAT WAS YOUR MINDSET WHILE SHIFTING FROM A SECURED JOB TO STARTING YOUR OWN BUSINESS FROM SCRATCH?
It took me 30 days to make this happen. I had to sit down to calculate and finish the paperwork. In the first 15 days, I got all the calculations done. However, the calculations showed that I should not go ahead with this plan. But in the next 15 days, I compiled a file and decided that I have to get this done.
MOVING AHEAD IN THIS CONVERSATION SHUBHAM WHAT WAS THE INITIAL INVESTMENT LIKE?
It was more of like a bootstrap. I landed having my first client before I had my first office. So that project funded the beginning of the company. One of my friends introduced me to his friend who wanted a company website. He wasn’t happy with the agency and it was also charging him a lot. So I offered to make his website at half the price that his agency was charging.
I prepared a proposal and went to Gujrat, where that guy travelled from. I told him how serious I was about this project. The feeling of having the first transaction was like watching your baby stand on his feet for the first time in the world. To get the first client, transaction, and then our own office, it felt great.
HOW DID YOU CONVINCE YOUR FRIEND TO LEAVE HER JOB AND JOIN YOU?
There is a barrier between an employee who is at a lower position and the one who is at an executive position. I have always believed that any employee working under me should have direct access to the MD.
This is the core value on which I function because I have faced a lot of issues with this. That is something that pulled her here. I told her that if you work for me, whatever questions or ideas you have, you just have to knock on my door.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO STABILISE YOUR BUSINESS IN TERMS OF CASH LIQUIDITY?
For the first quarter, things were nice; I had good plans with good people working. After 2 quarters, there came a time of crisis which I feel that every start-up comes across.
Once when we ran low on cash, people were coming and going and we couldn’t satisfy the clients. It took me a year to stabilize the business.
WHAT ARE THE CURRENT STRUGGLES THAT YOU ARE FACING?
We were looking for a new office in Mumbai before the pandemic. So the current struggle is expansion. I think it’s it plays to our privilege that a lot of people have switched from on-ground marketing to digital marketing.
When we just started, there came a time when we were running very low on cash. I had 2 options, either I could pay out the salary or I could give out the rents.
So I called a team meeting and I explained the scenario. I told them to decide about our plan of action. So all of these guys told me that we could pay the rent first and the salaries could be skipped for the next month. By god’s grace, the coming months were better. When the employees treat the company as a family, things become easier.
IN YOUR JOURNEY THAT YOU’VE SHARED WITH US IN THIS CONVERSATION SHUBHAM, WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST FAILURE THAT HAS SHAPED YOU?
There was a client for which I was dying to work for. So, everything was in the final stage. Since that company had a big name, we decided to work first, and then we’d ask for the payment. When the work was completed, they mailed us that the payment would take some time.
After two months, I mailed them asking for our payment and the reply shocked me. They said that the work was not up to the mark. And that is why the payment was withheld. This incident hit me where it hurts the most because there were a lot of people who were working for this. I let this incident go because I was relatively new in this business but this incident taught me a lot of things.
My mother and my friends were my support system during such times.
HOW DO YOU MANAGE THE FEAR OF GOING BACK TO RAGS?
When you see the very bottom of where you could hit, you lose fear. I lost fear about going back to those days because I thought that nothing could be worse than what has already passed.
HOW DO YOU MANAGE YOUR MONEY, SHUBHAM?
This is something which I learned quite late. When the business started growing and the money started coming, I didn’t know to manage the money to keep the cash flowing. After some time, a friend of mine who is a CA guided me. He shared that there are people who make a lot of money but they are not saving and investing. This is where they are going wrong. Then it hit me that he was talking about me. So, now I have got my investment on track.
SHUBHAM PLEASE TELL US THAT ARE YOU A MONEY MINDED PERSON?
I was, as of now I am not. I was a person who valued money a lot. But when I look at myself today, I feel it’s more about profound relations and building a good life.
DO YOU HAVE ANY BIGGER THAN LIFE GOAL, SHUBHAM?
As of now, there isn’t such a goal. I just want to expand the company. In the end, it’s all about finding what you feel is right, and for me, that is growing my company.
We run a non-profitable organization which goes by the name Ashayeen. When dad was fighting cancer, the assets were enough to cover those expenses. A lot of people don’t have that; they go through agony plus mental stress. That is why we began with this organization where we treat these patients.
TOWARDS THE END OF OUR CONVERSATION SHUBHAM SHARE WITH US THAT ONE STORY THAT YOU CAN NEVER FORGET
I bought my first car, it meant the world to me. I remember I went down to the bank to ask for a loan After I had finalized everything with the bank, I realized that I didn’t actually need to take a loan. This was something that made me really happy at that time.
A truly enlightening journey, Shubham has taught us that one’s circumstances are one’s biggest teacher. This conversation with Shubham has also once again highlighted the stream of opportunities that comes our way and we sometimes in our gullibility ignore them. For more such insightful stories, listen to The Balls Of Steel Show and expand your Dhandho Ni Soch.